One of the great joys of driving a 4×4 is the fact that you can go just about anywhere, and take on driving conditions that you wouldn’t be able to in any other sort of vehicle. However, as robust and durable as the modern 4WD is, you need to be prepared, and so travelling off-road or in the outback may require some additions to your vehicle, as well as some extra equipment to carry. You also need to exhibit a little caution and use some common sense!
One of the most common ways in which 4×4 drivers get themselves into trouble is when they are attempting to cross water. That’s why we’ve put together these top tips for kitting out your 4WD, plus some driving advice, to help you ensure you can get across creeks, rivers and fords safely.
1. Make sure your 4WD has a snorkel
A 4×4 snorkel is essential for attempting to cross water of any depth. Because it is positioned above the roof, water isn’t able to enter the air intake and then find its way into the engine — a scenario which could leave you stranded and in a potentially dangerous situation. Our Australian-made TJM Airtec snorkels for all makes and models of 4WD keeps the air intake safely out of reach, meaning you can cross water with far greater confidence.
Pictured: TJM Airtec Snorkel
2. Have a diff breather fitted
If there is any likelihood of your encountering water that you need to cross, it pays to have a diff breather fitted to your 4×4. When you’re driving for any length of time, the differential heats up, but if a hot diff is then submerged in cold water, a vacuum is produced which then draws water into it. However, if you have diff breather extension tubes fitted (which should be located high up in the engine), water is prevented from getting into the differential. They also have the additional advantage of helping to prevent dust getting into the diff ass well.
3. Always wear a bra!
A water bra is a cover that is fitted over the front of your 4WD and designed to keep water out of the engine bay. Even if you have a 4×4 snorkel fitted, a water crossing bra is an essential piece of kit to keep water out of the air intake. Generally made from nylon, PVC or tarpaulin, they can be fitted (temporarily) over the front grill so that water is kept out as you are moving through. Some water bras will have headlight recesses, and enable you to keep accessories like aerials in place; however, it is important that you remove the bra once you are through water, in order to maintain air flow and cooling.
4. Carry a recovery kit and spares
No matter how well prepared you are, there is always the possibility when you are driving in demanding conditions that something can go wrong. And while you may not always be able to prevent it, you can minimise the consequences if you are prepared and carrying a 4×4 recovery kit and spares with you. As a minimum requirement, we would always recommend that your 4WD recovery gear includes a recovery strap (or snatch strap, as it’s more commonly known), a high lift recovery jack, and a winch.
Pictured: TJM Large Recovery Kit
5. Always take care when crossing water
As tough as your 4WD may be, it’s not indestructible and so you do need to use some common sense and show some caution when crossing water. Some useful advice from our team of seasoned 4WD drivers includes:
- Make sure you know the 4WD manufacturer’s recommended maximum wading depth
- If possible, walk through the water before crossing to check its depth, and whether there are any rocks or sudden drops
- If the water is flowing too fast for you to stand up in, its probably too fast for you to drive through
- Plan out your entry and exit points in advance, as well as the path you’ll follow
- Give the vehicle a chance to cool down before attempting to cross
- Fit your water bra (if you have one) and have you recovery kit ready before you begin crossing (including attaching your snatch strap to a rated recovery point on the vehicle)
- Keep a window open, as an emergency means of escape
- Use low range and drive at a steady pace in first or second gear, without stopping if you can possibly avoid it
- If you are crossing water in a convoy, make sure the vehicle ahead is out before you start to cross
TJM Perth for all your 4×4 accessories
We are specialists in kitting out Australian 4WD vehicles of all types, so if you need a 4×4 snorkel, a recovery kit, or any other additional features to make your 4×4 driving safer and more enjoyable, call TJM Perth on (08) 6444 6632 or get in touch via email and we’ll be happy to help.