A Beginner’s Guide To Driving In Bulldust

Bulldust can be a challenge to drive through – and that’s no BS. Driving your 4×4 through the bush can catch you out and lead to loss of stability, declining visibility, and even breakdowns.

Bulldust – and we’re talking about fine particulate matter – can manifest as great big plumes of dust carrying on behind your vehicle. This is all fine when you’re on your own, gunning down the A87 from Darwin to Alice Springs, but can cause serious trouble when you’re in a convoy, trailing behind. Bulldust is not only near-microscopic clay-like dust particles (about the consistency of talcum powder), but rocks, debris and other nasties that can damage your 4×4 on the outside and inside.

Air intakes and air conditioning systems – the interior

If you aren’t careful, bulldust can clog up your air intakes and air conditioning systems – even if you have it set to recirculate, bulldust can seep in through the minute gaps between your window seals and the window itself, creating a fine layer of dust on your dash and interior. It can also seep through your air intake filters. If you do encounter bulldust, you should always give your filter a good shake after you clear it, or pack a few extra filters just in case. If your food or water is exposed as you encounter bulldust, make sure it’s stowed away to avoid a grainy lunch.

4x4 with bullbar driving in bulldust

Effects of bulldust – stability and traction control

Sometimes bulldust patches are just a few centimetres deep which gives your tyres something to grip. However, since bulldust is so fine, it mimics the effects of a liquid or bog. Wheels can lose traction underneath, causing you to fishtail or skid around as you regain control. Mind you, this is while your visibility plummets to only a few feet in front. This means you could hit a hard edge or vertical plane, which could cause a tyre puncture if you’re lucky, and suspension failure or a cracked rim if you aren’t careful. These are hard to repair out the Back ‘o Bourke, and cost an arm and a leg to fix even when you are in town.

4x4 speeding through bulldust

How to drive through bulldust

Bulldust can be quite hard to spot unless you have an eye out. Normal tyre tracks will look like imprints of tyres – bulldust prints are grooves in the ground that are indistinct around the edges, like a “V” shape. The common mistake is to speed up – this only worsens the problem. It’s best to turn on your lights to a low beam, and lower your tyre pressure for dirt running. This means a drop of about 10-15%. You should also use a high gear ratio, using the rev band between peak torque and maximum power. Sometimes bulldust “holes” will have debris in them, and you should stop and make a visual inspection before proceeding. If you ever are stuck, turn your hazards on to warn other vehicles and wait for clear visibility before attempting recovery.

4x4 skidding through bulldust

TJM Perth

We are a family owned private business that takes pride in providing quality service along with the best quality 4×4 accessories in Perth. We stock all TJM 4×4 accessories along with other top Australian 4wd accessories brands.

If you would like some help in getting the right gear for your 4wd, please feel free to contact us or visit 9 Pritchard St, O’Connor WA 6163 Australia.