SUV and 4WD
If you travel in the outback "off road" at some stage you are going to encounter sand dunes, clay pans, salt lakes and rocky creek beds. You are eventually going to become stuck or bogged and a complete vehicle recovery kit should be carried to assist in your recovery.
VEHICLE RECOVERY EQUIPMENT
• Long handled or short handled shovels, a pick and an axe. MUST HAVE.
• Winch, complete with cables, tree protector and snatch blocks, a hand winch is often suitable given that they are rarely used, however these are hard work when you need them.
• Chain, 6m x 30 mm [fitted with moused hook and adjusting claw or good shackles]
• Nylon rope, 25m x 3000 – 5000kg breaking load
• Wire rope, 5m x 12 mm with snap lock and hook at each end]
• Snatch strap, 8m min 5000kg working load, always buy one that exceeds your needs.
• High lift jack
• AIR bag Jack and protector, good in sand and mud.
When you feel the track has the potential to bog your SUV. It’s time for Prevention, this is when you need to spend 5 minutes to get off your butt You will need to get out of your SUV and walk the track. You can spend hours or even days getting SUV’s out of a bog or creek when you are really stuck.
Listed below are some generally accepted safe driving practises to make your trip both safer and more enjoyable, they include -
• When driving on water-logged roads it is better to keep to the centre and avoid soft edges. While the ride may be rougher the road surface is usually firmer.
• When crossing flooded creeks get out of your vehicle and test the depth and current before crossing. If the rain has stopped the water level quite often drops in a few hours, so in the interest of safety it may be better to wait a day and proceed safely.
• In the Northern states beware of crocs when crossing rivers and creeks “remember you are part of their food chain.”
• After driving through water do not stop the vehicle at once. Remember that everything under the bonnet will be wet and by running the engine it will have more chance to dry out. Brakes may be ineffective and can be dried out by driving a short distance with your foot on the brake pedal.
• Use the square-on approach to slopes. Go straight up and down hills and sand dunes. Remember that travelling across the face of a slope is dangerous as the vehicle can easily roll over.
HINTS ON OUTBACK IMPROVISATION
If a vehicle breakdown does occur or you encounter problems with your vehicle it may be possible to improvise parts and make the necessary repairs or adjustments.
Listed below are some suggested improvisations -
• Nuts, bolts and fixing brackets can often be replaced with wire.
• Soft rope or even nylon panty-hose can be tied in a circle to replace fan belts.
• A piece of thick canvas or vinyl can be used to make a sleeve for a blown tyre.
• A flat tyre can be filled with sand, clothing or vegetation.
• A hole in a petrol tank can be sealed by covering it with a piece of rag covered in condensed milk or a wad of chewing gum, or a bar of soap, you may also consider plugging the hole with a wooden plug carved from a stick.
• Mustard or pepper added to a radiator will stop minor leaks, bars stop leak for larger leaks. It is a good idea to always carry a packet of epoxy resin bonding agent in your tool kit for longer lasting repairs.
• Quick setting araldite can be used to effect a repair to a holed sump, even a coin araldite (glued) over a hole can be successful.
• When the battery is flat and the vehicle cannot be push-started a vehicle with manual transmission can be started by jacking up a rear wheel and manually rotating the wheel in a forward direction with the vehicle in top gear and the ignition switched on.
These are just ideas we and others have used to allow a SUV to limp back to a town or even a station (ranch), these locations generally have well provisioned workshops. Just be prepared to pay for the privilege.
We would love to hear your ideas and stories on how to fix your SUV in the outback and how you have recovered your SUV from a sticky situation.