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Ed's Handy Hints

Swags on roof racks

Always carry your swags on the roof racks so that the ends face the sides. This way, if it rains, the water will not seep inside the swag under wind pressure. Use a ratchet to quickly and effectively mount them to a basket-style roof rack

Carrying fuel in jerry cans

The safest is way to carry fuel in an approved jerry can is inside the station wagon behind the cargo barrier. Use a ratchet tie down (webbing strap) to tension the can up against the cargo barrier. This stops them moving and rattling on rough roads and is there is a leaking cap you will soon smell it. It also aids stability as the heavy weight of the fuel is carried low and directly above the rear axle and suspension.

Make more room in your 4WD station wagon (A must for that outback adventure!)

Most cargo barriers can be fitted in the forward position (behind the front seats) is there are only two people on the trip. Also, remove the rear seats, which will give you lots more room for carrying tool boxes, fridges, recovery gear, etc. This will give you plenty of room, particularly if a roof rack is fitted, for all your gear and save you the hassle and expense of towing a trailer.

Daily vehicle check while on a trip

It is important to check your 4WD every morning before leaving camp. The obvious items are to check oil and water levels and tyre air pressure, as well as a physical inspection of the underneath of your vehicle, including the suspension, for any signs of damage. If you have Polyairs, check them daily and adjust when necessary. We run up to 45 psi in most 4WDs without any dramas. Tyres can lose pressure overnight from slow leaks and hidden hazards such as sticks or rock damage. A quick spanner check of suspension nuts and bolts is also advisable in heavy 4WD conditions. We always recommend carrying a spare set of new or used shocks for emergency use on long trips.

Cargo barriers as clothes hangers!

Some outlets sell a bracket that sandwiches the cargo barrier and is effectively a clothes hook. With the barrier in the forward position, there is normally enough room behind the front seats to fit the 'clothes hook' and hang up your better clothes on coat hangers. Also, your wet towels can be carried on these coat hangers and will dry in no time at all. A must when doing those long outback 4WD trips is having a well-earned shower at the end of a long day.

Roof rack placement for 4WD Station Wagons

All basket style roof racks should be position as close to the rear as possible. This has a two-fold benefit:

  • The load is carried over the rear axle, eliminating detrimental effects on steering and vehicle stability.
  • It means air passing up over the windscreen and roof areas flows better, minimising noise and aiding fuel economy and performance.

When loading basket roof racks, place the heaviest items towards the rear of the rack. Poly airs will aid the vehicle stability with fully laden roof racks.

Polyairs

We recommend this product for 4WD owners doing outback trips. Coil springs are not suitable for offering both a comfortable ride and good load carrying abilities. The compromise is the air-adjustable Polyair product. They are a must for 4WDs fitted with rear coil springs. Polyairs aid load carrying, stability and steering. They are economically priced and very durable. Most vehicles can use up to 45 psi in them without dramas. Polyairs are available in different lengths to suit 4WDs with raised height coil springs.

Replacement or auxiliary tanks.

In general, it is much better to fit a larger capacity replacement fuel tank than an auxiliary tank. We've seen too many examples of ill-advised customers who have fitted 'the wrong tank' to their 4WD. With fuel injected and diesels being the norm these days, this is an important factor as auxiliary tanks for these vehicles require a fuel transfer system, ie: pump, gravity, etc. Consult us before you decide which tank to buy. It could save you a lot of time and frustration.

Better 4WD seating

It makes sense to improve your 4WD seats by replacing them with orthopaedically designed, Australian made, aftermarket products. Every time I go bush in my Landcruiser, which is fitted with excellent after-market seats, I wonder how many other 4WD owners put up with the standard units. Quality seats, such as Stratos or other Australian brands, are a sensible investment in you own health. Costly visits to a chiropractor or osteopath are not an option! After-market seats make sense. They can be transferred from one 4WD to another when you update, and the initial cost of the seats is absorbed over a long period. When you spend 10-12 hours a day behind the wheel on long trip, good quality seats are a must, not an option.

Manual or electric winch?

Many inexperienced 4WD owners are wrongly advised when buying winches for vehicle recovery. Owners are talked into an electric winch when they do not already own a manual winch. Manual winches are a necessity. Electric and hydraulic winches are a luxury. Manual winches can pull a vehicle backwards, forwards and sideways, while electric and hydraulic winches are fixed to the front of the vehicle and can only effectively pull forward. Which may not be the way out of trouble. Think about it before you buy. Electric and hydraulic winches are great for heavy duty 4WD use, but most owners use them to pull other vehicles out of bogs, holes, etc. Ring us if you need to discuss the best winch option for your particular 4WD and you intended use.

Vehicle showers

Products such as the Glind Shower are a must for the outback traveller. A decent warm or hot shower every day or two will be more than welcome, particularly in hot and dusty conditions. We recommend a bracket on the bull bar or roof rack to hold the shower rose and a pair of swimmers as the ideal thing for outback cleanliness. Another handy item is a plastic doormat or similar to stand on while showering so your feet get clean too - and stay clean while you dry them. And fellas, the water can be adjusted to a temperature hot enough for a shave.

Carrying water

Several viable options exist for carrying water. The most effective is plastic square or jerry cans secured behind the cargo barrier with a suitable ratchet or similar tie down. Other options include the welded vinyl Float-pac units that can be fixed or portable depending on the space available. These can even be cable-tied behind and to the cargo barrier and fitted with an outlet tap. Some also fit in the side panels of selected 4WDs. The ultimate options are stainless steel or alloy water tanks mounted inside or underneath the vehicle. These are quite expensive but maximise the space available and have outlets for ease of access. Remember that water is a must for outback 4WD driving and camping trips. And its now bad with a scotch at sundown either!

240-volt power invertors

With the advent of electrically operated equipment, such as video cameras, mobile and satellite phones, and laptop computers, 240-volt power is a must at one time or another. A simple power inverter that converts 12-volt power from your vehicle to 240 volts is a very simple and cost effective solution. For around $300, a unit will do all of do all of these things, Heavy-duty units with greater wattage capacity are available but cost more and use more of your available 12-volt power. Always link your inverter to your second (dual) battery. A decent dual battery system is essential for outback trips.

Spare air filters

We recommend the proven Unifilter foam-style air filters for all 4WD conditions. They are extremely effective and can be easily cleaned and re-oiled, saving the outlay of a conventional paper-style unit. Many of them come with an external 'stripper' which is a foam band that covers the inner unit and is easily replaced in seconds. Buy a few spare strippers and carry then pre-oiled in a plastic bag or container for your trip. When you do you daily vehicle check, replace the dirty stripper with a clean one. This will help your vehicle operate efficiently and protect your valuable engine from harmful dust penetration.

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