The Outback is not the place to learn how to handle a 4WD and yet this is exactly where many tourists try to do so. Take essential spares – spark plugs, fuses, fuel filters, radiator hoses and a fan belt – plus a shovel, hi-lift jack and gloves, and one of the “how to” manuals easily found in bookshops. The following basic hints should help.

  • Know how to operate everything – including free-wheeling hubs (where present) and how to change a wheel – before you need it.
  • Always cross deep water and very muddy sections on foot first.
  • Don’t persevere if you’re stuck – wheel spin will only dig you further in – and reverse out. Momentum is key on slippery surfaces such as mud or sand – as long as you’re moving forward, however slowly, resist the temptation to change gear, and so lose traction.
  • Reducing tyre pressures down to 1 bar (15lb psi) dramatically increases traction in mud and sand, but causes tyre overheating, so keep speeds down. Carry a compressor or reinflate as soon as possible.
  • If stuck, clear all the wheels, create a shallow ramp (for all wheels), engage four-wheel drive, lower pressures if necessary, and drive or reverse out in low-range second.
  • Keep to tracks – avoid unnecessary damage to the environment.
  • On beaches observe other vehicles’ tracks and be aware of tidal patterns.
  • Consider a rented satellite phone for remote travel.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Australia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

Sun-soaked and healthy? Perhaps. A decent gateway to Western Australia? Definitely. But a cool place to spend a few days? Until recently Perth just couldn’t …

27 Apr 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
12 tips for backpacking Australia

12 tips for backpacking Australia

Backpacking Australia will almost certainly exceed your expectations. It’s not just that the places you’ll see will be more stunning than you had imagine…

09 Mar 2017 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month