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Cleaning Your 4WD After a Trip to the Beach

Properly cleaning your vehicle and gear should be an essential part of any off-road trip to the beach, says Dave Darmody from Australian Offroad Academy.

These tips have been provided by Australian Offroad Academy, the 4WD trainers trusted by Hema Maps.

We all enjoy getting our vehicles sandy in our quest to visit special places, but over the years I’ve learned some tricks to save time and money when it comes to the post-trip clean.

1. Open one door at a time on or around the beach. When we pull up for a swim, or arrive back at our campsite, I demand a little bit of patience from my passengers. Only allowing one person out at a time prevents the 4x4 becoming a wind tunnel, reducing the amount of salty, sandy air inside (and on the inside of the windscreen) that needs to be cleaned out later. This also ensures that the little bits of rubbish accrued inside the 4WD during the day don’t blow out before they can be collected and disposed of properly.

2. Windows up on the beach as often as possible. I’ve spent plenty of time in topless Suzukis and Jeeps (and even Defender 130s) on the beach and you just enjoy it. But as I’ve gotten older and as vehicles have become more complicated, it occurs to me that there really is no place inside the car for warm, moist, salty air.

3. Beach creeks are for crossing and swimming, not for under body washes. Not only is it an ineffective method of cleaning an area that needs a lot of attention, but many a four-wheel driver has found that the fast moving water of the running creek has eroded the sand from under the tyres and left them rapidly sinking. There are a few famous photos from Eli Creek of just that happening.

4. It’s a good idea to give your vehicle an under body wash before heading home, but it’s even more important to do an extended clean once you get there. After driving on the beach, what your under body needs is a good wash out with lots of water (not necessarily high pressure water) to dislodge any salt and sand in all of the nooks and crannies, otherwise rust will come calling sooner rather than later. These kinds of detailed cleans are also an excellent opportunity to have a look around under your 4x4 and get a better understanding of what’s there.

5. Check the state of all your gear upon returning home. Everything wears out, but you can extend the life of your camping or recovery gear by checking and tending to it before you pack it away again. Ensure it’s all dry and without any worrying damage, and if anything needs replacing, better to know about it and do it early, as opposed to finding out the day before or while you’re on the next trip.


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