There really is nothing like doing a bit of beach driving, is there? It’s so enjoyable, cruising down the beach, the salty wind blowing through the open windows, watching through the windscreen as the waves break. Here at 4WD Supacentre we reckon that all types of 4WDing are heaps of fun, but that nothing can beat beach-driving! In our opinion it’s the ultimate to spend a sunny afternoon. However, the one thing that can ruin 4×4 beach driving more than anything else, is getting bogged – especially when there’s the risk you could lose your 4WD to an incoming tide. Thankfully, beach driving isn’t that hard at all if you know a few basic rules and you stick to them.
The first thing you should always do when you’re about to drive on a soft sandy beach is lower your 4×4 tyre pressures for beach driving. This allows your tyres to spread out and keeps you up and on top of the sand, rather than sinking down into it. To do this, you can sit there with a small stick in your tyre valves and manually let air out, or you can do it the smart way with the use of the Kwiky Tyre Deflator or the Adventure Kings 3 in 1 tyre deflator. Both of these 4×4 tyre deflators are extremely accurate and built to quickly and easily allow you to lower your tyre pressures for driving on the beach.
So what is the correct tyre pressures for sand driving? That answer varies depending on what type of 4×4 you drive. If you drive a traditional full-sized 4×4 like a Nissan Patrol or a Toyota Landcruiser, then a good starting point for 4×4 sand driving tyre pressures is around 16psi. That seems very low, especially since you’re probably running about 35-40psi in your tyres on the road. But the trick here is to let your tyres right down so that they create a massive footprint on the sand, spreading out the weight of the vehicle. If you drive a medium-sized 4WD like a dual-cab ute, then we would still recommend lowering your tyre pressures to 16psi because surprisingly your ute will still weight around the same.
It’s vital however that if you do lower your tyre pressures, you have some sort of reliable way of pumping them back up at the end of your beach driving session. It’s okay to drive maybe a kilometer or two on the tarmac at 20km/h with your tyres at 16psi to get to a service station to reinflate them, but you will destroy your tyres really quickly if you drive any further or any faster while they’re deflated. A much better and safer option is to always carry your own portable air compressor like the Thumper air compressor or Thumper Max air compressor. These compact 12v air compressors pack away extremely small yet are incredibly powerful – more than enough to reinflate tyre after tyre after tyre. Keep one in the back of your 4×4 at all times because you never know when you’ll need to re-inflate your tyres back to road pressures and you can’t always rely on the servo being close, or the servo air compressor actually working when you get there! As well, it’s a great feeling when you can park wherever you want under a shady tree to use your portable air compressor instead of having to line up in the hot sun with the rest of the people.
16psi is a good rough starting point for beach driving but if the conditions are really soft then don’t be afraid to use your Kwiky tyre gauge and Kwiky tyre deflator or Adventure Kings 3 in 1 tyre deflator to lower your tyre pressures even more. When it’s really soft it’s completely okay to drop your tyre pressures down as low as 10psi to give you extra traction and ensure that you don’t sink down into the sand. However, you must be aware that at such low tyre pressures, your steering and braking will be severely compromised so you have to take things slow and keep your overall speeds right down. When you’re free of the soft spot, use your 12v air compressor to put a bit of air back into your tyres so you’re back up around 16psi.