Helpful tips for driving on the beach!
We have all at one time or another (well I know I have) felt like the world doesn’t exist when driving along the beach, admiring the beauty and power of this natural wonder. So to ensure you get this feeling and can enjoy your journey, below are some helpful tips to get you there
Do your homework before you go- Check out local council websites and popular 4WD magazines for information on which beaches permit the use of vehicles. If vehicles are permitted, you will usually be able to find clearly marked access routes and appropriate signage. If in doubt, contact the local tourist information centre. Use established access routes - not only are they a better option for your vehicle, but they also reduce unnecessary damage to dune ecosystems.
Check your clearance- If you've never taken your vehicle on the beach before, whip-out the measuring tape and check the level of clearance between the underside of the vehicle and the ground. Anything less than 180mm could mean that the vehicle will bottom-out when cresting even a slight rise in the sand. Ultimately, this translates to a loss of momentum and an increased likelihood of getting bogged.
Watch the Water- Tides are a governing force for all beachgoers, so make sure you're not driving during an incoming high tide. Always pack a tide chart for the relevant area and check it before you head out. Aim to start your journey on an outgoing high tide - the sand will be firm and you'll have ample time to reach your destination before the next high tide returns. Stay clear of the water's edge - one rogue wave is all it takes to lift or roll a vehicle.
Lower your tyre pressure- Most 4WD vehicles will have a road-driving tyre pressure between 32-38psi. Lowering your tyre pressure will help spread the tyre out, increasing the amount of surface area in contact with the sand. Start at 25psi. You shouldn't go any lower than 18psi. When you lower your tyre, it gives you a longer foot print - that's what gives you better traction on slippery surfaces. There are consequences of lowering tyre pressure, including a lag in steering and braking response so make sure to account for these changes while driving. Always remember to increase the tyre pressure before you drive back onto the bitumen, or you'll risk rolling the tyre completely off the wheel.
Last but not least- maintain momentum, be prepared with equipment in case you get bogged, be aware of the road rules, be considerate of other beachgoers and most importantly, make sure the only thing you leave behind are your tyre tracks!
Happy beach driving