Tips for Long Outback Drives
Playing it safe is the smartest option when it comes to remote area travel.
BEATING THE CORRUGATIONS
Corrugations can shake seven shades of you know what out of your 4WD if you’re not on the ball. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do, but more often than not a few little driving techniques can smooth out the ride. The first one is tyre pressures! Lower pressures allow the sidewalls to flex, helping your suspension by absorbing some of the bumps.
The second is to ride the cushion. Corrugations usually form in the most used part of the track, but there are often parts on either side of the track that are smoother, if you can find them.
The next thing is to find a speed that helps you get up on top of the corrugation. That basically means a speed fast enough to stop your wheels from falling into the ‘bump’ of the corrugation.
To keep plenty of control, whack it in 4WD. You’re unlikely to get bogged or anything, but shaking can cause tyres to lose contact with the ground. A loss of contact means a loss of control, but engaging 4WD can help maintain it if you are at a safe speed.
CATCHING PROBLEMS EARLY
When it comes to mechanical breakdowns, there are almost always early warning signs before it goes ka-boom! A rattle here or a tinging noise can be the beginning of the end if you don’t catch it in time. That’s why it’s important to pull over and check out any unfamiliar noises. If you suspect something is buggered, you’ll have to think on your feet when it comes to working out the next step. But here are a few things to be wary of.
One: chances are, the longer you drive a vehicle with a problem, the more damage you’ll end up doing.
Two: sometimes having very limited mechanical knowledge can actually be worse than having no knowledge at all. Reason being, you might assume you know what the problem is when it’s actually something completely different.
Three: if there’s another way to sort a problem that doesn’t involve a dodgy bush mechanic fix – use it! Nine times out of 10, if you can get phone reception, you can call a tow truck or roadside service when you’re out in outback NSW. So simply calling for help is usually the safest and smartest option.