Four wheel driving is one of Australia’s favourite pastimes. Every weekend, thousands of people across Brisbane load up their cars and head off the beaten track to explore everything our stunning country has to offer. But going off-road requires a bit of preparation and planning. While most 4WDs feature tough construction and hardy engines, breaking down on the trail can quickly turn into a major headache. Whether you’re planning your first camping trip or your next one, it’s always a good idea to know what you need to be doing in the event of a breakdown. To help out, we’re going to go over how to handle off-road engine troubles to ensure your weekend goes smoothly.
Get the Basics Right
The best defense is a good offence, so you need to get the basics right. Regularly maintaining your 4WD with high-quality components, carrying tools and bringing spare parts is a good starting point. But there are a few other things you should be doing:
Don’t go off-roading alone. Take a passenger with you at a minimum, but it’s best to go off-road with multiple cars and other people so you can help each other out of sticky situations.
Emergency medical supplies. Always carry a medical kit that includes emergency water supplies for extended breakdowns.
Know your emergency contacts. Know who to call and how to contact them if you break down. Put the number of an off-road towing service or 4WD recovery company in your phone, or know who to contact on the radio if you need help.
Invest in a satellite phone. For bigger trips and serious off-roading or overlanding, consider investing in a satellite phone.
Purchase off-road recovery cover. Some insurance companies and roadside assistance services offer packages aimed at 4WD enthusiasts. Just make sure your package offers coverage for the trails you’re hoping to tackle.
Carry Recovery Gear
Australia’s 4X4s are built tough. Chances are you’re unlikely to ever encounter a serious breakdown when you’re off the beaten track. The most likely problem is becoming stuck in deep mud, sand or other precarious spots.
Without the right gear, getting yourself unstuck can be almost impossible, and you’ll be forced to contact a towing company for help. You can avoid that outcome by carrying quality recovery gear and learning how to use it!
The basic 4WD recovery kit always includes:
A built-in winch system
Tow and snap straps
High lift jacks
Have a Go at Fixing the Issue
Depending on where you get stuck, having to call for help could mean waiting hours for help to arrive. Before your call for a tow truck, it’s worth investigating the problem and trying to fix it yourself. Check the common causes of breakdowns and see whether you can repair the issue:
Flat batteries. Flat starter batteries are a problem whether you’re on the road or trail. Portable battery packs and jumper cables can get you up and running again. It also pays to check your accessories with a multimeter before heading out to make sure none of them are draining power unnecessarily.
Electrical issues. A lot of your 4WDs electronics live in the hot engine bay and it makes them prone to failure. Always check for blown fuses or wiring malfunctions that could be causing your problem. The fix could be as simple as swapping out a fuse or replacing a faulty ground wire.
Punctured tyres and damaged wheels. Every off-road vehicle should be fitted with at least one spare wheel and tyre that’s fully inflated, but two spares are better. Don’t get caught out without a spare, an air compressor and a puncture repair kit.
Overheating. Overheating can be caused by overworking the engine during a hard section of trail. If you have sufficient coolant in the system and the engine is otherwise in good condition, you may be able to get away with letting the car cool down before you continue driving. However, overheating isn’t normal and can be a sign of more serious problems, so don’t continue driving the car if you’re unsure of the cause.
Remember, if you don’t know what’s wrong with your car or you aren’t in a safe spot to make repairs, it’s always better to call for help.
Need Off-Road Towing or 4WD Recovery? Contact Harvey’s Towing Today!
If you can’t recover or repair your own vehicle, it’s time to call for help. Harvey’s Towing offers off-road towing and recovery services throughout the Brisbane region. If you find yourself stuck or broken down off road, we can send a tow truck to meet you and help you get home safely. We also work with insurance companies throughout the Southeast to help cover as many 4WD owners as possible. Before you head out for your next adventure, make sure you add us to your contact list! Contact us on (07) 3297 0911 or get in touch online if you would like us to send a tow truck to meet you.