When you own both a four wheel drive and an off road caravan, it can be tempting to take the road less travelled and explore all that our wonderful country has to offer. If you have never driven across sand before, however, the first time can be a little daunting. By following these basic guidelines, you can ensure that your trek across Australia’s sandy landscape goes as smoothly as possible – and that your caravan doesn’t sink half way there.
Reduce your Tyre Pressure
Towing on sand can actually be made easier by releasing some air from your vehicle and caravan’s tyres. Decreasing the air pressure in your tyres when travelling off road will increase the surface area touching the ground. This displaces more of the sane, helping you to ‘float’ across it instead of sinking into it. There are varying opinions regarding how low you should go, but between 15 and 22 psi is generally an acceptable range.
Match up the wheel Tracks
In an ideal situation, your towing vehicle and caravan will have the same wheel track (left-right distance to the centre of the tyres). This will mean that the van is following in the same tracks as your vehicle. It makes towing easier, as the van is riding in sand that has already been compacted. We understand that this isn’t always possible, but it is something worth checking out before you head off the highway and venture into the desert.
Keep up a Consistent Pace
The final thing you should do is maintain a sufficient forward momentum. This will help you to ‘skim’ across the sand and, thereby, reduces your chances of becoming bogged. We aren’t saying that you should go as fast as possible (as you will quickly run into problems when you hit a ridge or hole). Once you’re moving, however, we recommend that you try to maintain a smooth and steady pace to avoid your off road caravans sinking.
How do I get Out of a Rut?
Even if you have followed all of our guidelines, there are times when you’ll still manage to become bogged. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to become the disaster that it appears:
- Don’t spin the wheels of your tow vehicle, as this will only dig you in further. Ease off the accelerator as soon as you realise you’re stuck.
- Drive back and forth as far as you can without slipping. After doing this a few times, the same may be compacted enough for you to move.
- If you are having difficulty stopping your wheels from spinning, pull gently on the handbrake to slow them.
- A snatch strap or recovery devices can be used if you have someone to help you out. Just make sure everyone stands well clear.
At the end of the day, towing in sand demands both skill and patience. It is unlikely that you will pick up the technique perfectly the first time around; it will take many hours of practice. When purchasing an off road caravan, it can also be a good idea to speak with the dealer about towing across sand – they may be able to offer some suggestions or advice that is specific to your particular model. They may also be able to show you a more appropriate caravan.