Driving on sand would be an intimating and nerve wracking experience for anyone who hasn’t done it before if they were just handed a car and said “go!” But here at Rainbow Beach 4X4 hire we pride ourselves on the extensive knowledge we provide each and every one of our customers to ensure their first time driving on Fraser Island goes as smoothly as if it was their 1000th time! When you hire a vehicle through us you get a complete beach driving tuition and demonstration but here are some quick tips to ensure you don’t end up on Fraser Island Towing’s Wall of Shame.
1 – Tides, tides, tides!
The very first thing to do before attempting to drive on any beach is to look up what the tides are doing that day! You want to be travelling on the beach at low tide and either getting locked in at destinations on high tide or headed inland during hightide. Beach driving is best at low tide for the following reasons:
- The vehicle is driving on nice hard sand which reduces the risk of accidents as the vehicle is easier to control
- Saves you money on fuel (the engine is working a lot less hard then it would be trying to get through soft sand at the top of the beach)
- It is the fastest way to travel along the beach
- Reduces the risk of saltwater contamination (salt water is a big NO NO for all vehicles!)
- Many areas of the beach are impassable during high tide and you physically have to wait for the tide to recede to get around them (ie: poyungan rocks)
- Breaking down on an incoming high tide can be disastrous! You don’t want your vehicle to fail while travelling up the beach on an incoming hightide – the ocean will physically destroy the car
Pictured above – beach driving around hook point at low tide
Pictured above – beach driving around hook point at high tide
2 – Deflate your tyres!
Normal tyres are inflated around 36 to 40 PSI – this is fine for road driving. However, when driving on sand you want to take air out of your tyres so that they have more surface area to grip the sand. Our hire cars tyres are set at 22 PSI – however anywhere between 18 to 22 PSI is fine. Just make sure if your tyres are deflated while driving on a bitumen road you maintain a safe speed of 80 km (any faster and the tyres can come off the rims as they are deflated!)
3 – Going through soft sand – don’t lose your momentum!
The number one cause of getting stuck in soft sand is simply going too slow or stopping. If you’re going through a “cutting” – which is the sand you have to go through between inland to get out onto the beach we have the following tips
- Shift into a lower gear (this allows your revs to get higher)
- Pick an established track! (Someone else has done the hard work for you – you can simply follow their treads)
- Get a bit of momentum through the track and don’t slow down or stop! (Stopping in soft sand is a sure way to get stuck)
- Once through the soft sand, switch back into a normal gear for driving.
Pictured above – vehicle getting stuck through a cutting of very soft sand
4 – Mind your speed!
While the nice hard sand at the bottom of the beach is almost like driving on a normal highway – the hazards you face certainly are not. Washouts, creek crossings, soft sand, rogue waves, dingos, birds and even children playing are all potential dangers that you can face. The faster you travel on the beach the harder it is to react to these risks safely. Slamming the brakes or harsh turning of the steering wheel can cause the vehicle to roll over, so it is always better to go slow and safe and give yourself enough time to react.
Pictured above – an example what happens when you drive too fast – a rolled vehicle on the beach.
5 – Avoid salt water!
Last on the list but definitely the most important is the avoidance of salt water. Despite all the photos and videos, you might have seen online of vehicles driving through waves and the ocean, salt water is extremely bad for vehicles and should be avoided to the best of your ability. If you follow the tides, deflate your tyres and mind your speed you should never find yourself splashing through a wave!
And there you have it our top 5 tips for driving on the beach! Doesn’t matter if you’re a first timer or been to Fraser Island dozens of times, the rules remain the same.
If you have any more questions about beach driving please don’t hesitate to ask us! We’re always happy to share our knowledge.
Rainbow Beach 4×4 Hire
Make sure you contact us directly for special pricing and rates and to receive a competitive quote!
07 5486 8300