Learning how to handle and use my 4wd when I joined Bayside Off-Roaders 10 years ago was very important to me and all these years later, I’m glad I did do our club’s Driver Training Course. I found it very reassuring that when I needed help it was always there. This October though for our Driver Training I was a spectator/photographer for the next lot of inductees.

 

The weekend started off with arrival at Landcruiser Mountain Park for a weekend full of knowledge to take in all the instructions from Trainers Tony Collins & John Lipman.

Do I have all the correct recovery equipment? How do you change a tyre?? What tyre pressure do you use for the terrain that you are driving in? What tools do you need to change a tyre? How do change a tyre when you your car is on a sloped terrain? Do I need wheel chocks? How do you stay safe whilst changing a tyre? What surroundings do you need to be aware of? There is a lot to be aware of and it you don’t take heed to all of the above changing a tyre will take on a whole new meaning for you. No question is a silly question in driver training even if you have changed a few tyres in your time. Tony & John took the time in each situation to make sure each driver understood each stage of the Driver Training.

 

If you think you are NOT going to get bogged or stuck in some way when out 4wdriving, then as a famous movie quote says ‘tell him he’s dreaming’. This is why driver recovery is another vital tool. Snatch straps and/or a good winch will get you out (I should know). Do you stand over a ‘live’ snatch strap? Hell no!! Should you have an air dampner/blanket? Um Yes!! How far away from the vehicles do you stand when a snatch strap and/or winch are about to be used? Who should you watch out for? What safety precautions do you take? What happens if you get stuck in sand? Would it help if you had a shovel in your car? Is it handy to have a set of Max Trax’s? Would a couple of pieces of wood be handy to have in your car or a bigger base plate so your jack doesn’t sink in the sand? What else should you be aware of with your surroundings? Each driver was taken through the steps of either being the one recovered or doing the recovering.

 

Like most courses there is always a theory section. For some, it makes it all ‘sink in’ better when you do theory and practical, it helps to balance the two out.

  • Plan for Four Wheel Driving
  • Perform pre-departure checks
  • What terrain will be driven
  • Recovery of a 4WD
  • Changing of tyres on uneven ground
  • Setting up equipment for snatch recovery

 

Although some ‘furry’ customers (no I’m not referring to Karen) thought they could sit in on the class without paying!! ‘How rude!!’

 

How do you know how to position your 4wd going up or down a track? How do you ‘pick your line’? Will my 4wd slip into the rut? How do I get out? Is the pressure in my tyres for a track suitable? Do I need a spotter to assist me up or down the track? Where will the spotter stand so as to ensure their safety? Previous to this drive, back at camp an exercise of placing empty soft drink cans on the ground and having each driver use front or back tyres to squash them by strategically positioning their vehicles. Once on the drive out of all the gentleman driving the only 2 drivers who didn’t slip into the rutt were lady drivers. Go the girls!!!!!!

Should I get out and survey as much of the track as possible before ascending? That hill looks a little steep what if I get stuck? I now can’t see whats behind me? What do I do? How do I restart the 4wd without rolling backwards? What gear selection do I use? You are the driver! You know your car is capable and so are you!! Having the trainers either outside the 4wd or inside assisting with further instructions can and does make the world of difference.

 

Let the car do the work for you!!

Should I get out and survey as much of the track as possible before descending?

 

Before leaving all checks need to be done to ensure a safe drive home. Survey your vehicle. Do you have the correct PSI in your tyres before leaving camp? Is your compressor easily accessible? Do you need to have your compressor attached the car battery to operate or not? Do you need to have the car running or not to operate the compressor?

 

A wealth of knowledge was learnt this weekend to ensure that each of the drivers on the course will take home with them how to protect and guard against their safety when out on trips. They will be aware how to recover themselves if they get stuck, how to secure their car on a sloped terrain if a flat tyre needs to be changed, what PSI they need to drive on tracks on all different types of terrain, how to recover themselves if stuck on a hill and to reverse down that said hill, the correct gear to be in when driving whether they need four wheel drive high or low, whether to lock in hubs or not (if you have them), how to identify potential hazards to the driver and their surroundings, how to perfect ‘line of sight’, engaging the use of the snatch straps or possibly a winch. More importantly when any of us are in a situation on a trip where we need help, we help each other out!