The Four Wheel Drive Association Queensland recognises the importance of supporting all 4WD Clubs across Queensland. Through the commitment of our members, many valuable and informative club resources have been produced for the benefit of members and club. Such resources include;
The Four Wheel Drive Association encourages everyone to use these resources as well as developing new collateral that can be shared by the Association.
4WD How to Guides
Never Recover a Vehicle Using a Tow Ball
NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES RECOVER A VEHICLE USING A TOW BALL
Warning: There are many documented cases of people being killed.
Tow balls cannot take the shock loads applied to them during the recovery process, snap and become projectile the will penetrate the rear door skins, seats and any occupants unlucky enough to be in harms way.
Connect Recovery Strap to a recovery point. For any recovery point requiring the use of a shackle to attach the strap, use only load rated shackles.
Only connect to correctly rated recovery points on the vehicles, with only Load Rated shackles. Load ratings are marked on shackles as WLL (Working Load Limit). Bow Shackles are suitable for this purpose and should be rated at least 3.25t. To correctly tighten shackle pins, screw the pin until it seats then back off about ? to 1 turn. Over tightening may lead to seized pins, due to the force exerted during recovery operations. To reduce the risk of vehicle damage and personal injury, hang a suitable recovery damper blanket, over the Recovery Strap, approximately midway to restrict the whipping action of a strap should it break.
Why Use a Recovery Blanket or Dampening Bag
Imagine having this come flying back at you. Very lucky for the driver that it stopped where it did. ALWAYS use recovery damper blankets over cables and straps to avoid serious injury or death in the event of cables & straps breaking.
Angles and Clearance
Is the greatest angle of the grade that a vehicle can approach or run off without grounding the chassis or body ahead of the front
Is the greatest angle of the grade that a vehicle can emerge from a deep rut or to level off after descending a steep slope without the underside rear body touching the ground
Ramp Over Angle
Is the maximum angle between two planes that a vehicle can negotiate? without any part of its underside touching the ground.
Is the minimum distance between the ground and the lowest point of the vehicle.
Is the maximum distance that a wheel can move up and down in the vehicles suspension travel
Before departing on any 4WD journey that involves semi remote travel, even if the return journey is on the same day, it is essential that routine checks are made of vehicle components that have the potential to disable the vehicle.
Some of the checks are…..
- Radiator Water Level & Hoses
- Fan Belt
- Engine Oil & Filter
- Clutch & Brake Fluid Levels
- Battery Connections & Fluid Level
- Springs and Shock Absorbers Security & Cracks
- Leaks & Damage to Wheels, Brakes and Brake Hoses
- Instruments & Control Switches Operation
- Seat Belt Security & Correction Position
- Indicator and Head Lights
- Recovery Equipment
Principles of Four Wheel Driving
1st Principle of Four Wheel Driving: “Stop, Get Out and Look”
2nd Principle of Four Wheel Driving: “Think, Assess & Decide”
Thumbs Up Rule
Correct positioning for thumbs and hands on the steering wheel is for thumbs to be along the top edge of the rim with the hands at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock.
Do not grip the steering wheel with thumbs in the inside of the rim. If the front wheels should hit an obstacle at an angle it could spin the steering wheel, breaking the drivers grip, the spokes hitting the drivers thumbs, resulting in a very painful injury at least or even broken thumbs.
Range and Drive Configurations
For Vehicles with constant 4WD configuration the following selections are typical;
High Range four wheel drive (H4) – Normal highway driving, slippery roads, snow etc
Low Range four wheel drive (L4) – Difficult four wheel driving, rocky terrain, soft sand & boggy surfaces.
For Vehicles with selectable 4WD configuration the following selections are typical;
High Range two wheel drive (H2) – Normal highway driving.
High Range four wheel drive (H4) – Slippery roads, snow and firm sand.
Low Range four wheel drive (L4) – Difficult four wheel driving, rocky terrain, soft sand & boggy surfaces.
Note: Do not drive vehicles with selectable 4WD configuration on bitumen or similar hard type surfaces in either High or Low range four wheel drive mode as serious damage to the vehicles system may occur under transmission wind up.
Selectable 4WD configuration may have manual or automatic locking front hubs, or a combination of both and remember they need to be locked before engaging 4WD.
All wheels rotate at different speeds as a vehicle turns a corner.
As a vehicle in four wheel drive mode turns, the different in rotation speeds between the front and rear axels must be relieved by the wheels slipping over the surface.
On hard terrain, such as bitumen or concrete, where wheel slippage can not occur, the differences in speed are absorbed by the transmission until the whole transmission system locks up or something breaks
This is known as transmission wind up and may be indicated by noise or an apparent loss of power and restricted steering.
Transmission wind up may be released by reversing the vehicle for a short distance over turning circle tracks.
Two wheel drive mode should then be selected while travelling on the hard terrain.
Rocky Track Driving
Tracks with boulder-strewn surfaces, steep gradients, washouts, eroded creek crossings and other obstacles requires a slow and careful approach that:
- Allows the driver time to assess the track ahead and to take the appropriate path.
- Minimises vehicle damage.
- Minimises avoidable vehicle recovery situations.
- Minimises damage to the track surface and fringing vegetation.
Momentum is rarely necessary since traction on dry rocky surfaces is usually good. Low range 1st or 2nd gear may be necessary for the rougher sections, crossing gullies, steep ascents and descents.
The resistance that sand presents vehicle tyres makes sand driving entirely different to any other type of four wheel driving.
The key to driving successfully in soft sand is the flotation that is gained by a combination of low tyre pressures and momentum.
Keeping the vehicle riding on top of sand, dry sand, without digging in or stalling, often requires the controlled application of power.
Gear changes are often made at higher engine speed that other wise.
Beach Driving requires common sense.
- To avoid long term damage to the vehicle stay out of salt water.
- Drive on firm sand above the wave wash.Watch out for soft patches of sand below the high tide mark, particularly if the tide is rising.
- Watch out for soft sand in creek crossings on beaches. They can be deceptive and should be thoroughly checked on foot before proceeding.
There are numerous situations where a four wheel drive vehicle is required to cross streams.
These streams vary from the shallow clear water of a mountain creek, to the wide turbulent river in flood or to the salt water coastal creek.
Some crossings are safe and easily negotiated. Others are potentially dangerous and should not be negotiated unless there is absolutely no alternative route and then only with adequate preparation.
Some crossings should not be attempted at all. Such as fast flowing creeks or flood waters. Do no assume that a road or causeway that was there just prior to the flood is still there now. Often the road surface underneath has been washed away. As a general guideline, if you are not able to get out and walk or wade the crossing first, then you are not able to drive it. Water deeper than the bottom of your doors has the potential to float your vehicle away or drown your engine.
Potentially dangerous crossings can result in wet electrical components or a ruined engine. There is also the threat to the safety of the driver and passengers.
Much of this risk can be minimised by proper preparation and precautions. These may take sometime and a little effort, but done thoroughly, should result in a safe crossing with the engine still running. Lack of preparation may mean a drowned motor with far more work ahead in drying out the vehicle than was saved by skimping on the preparations.
Don’t Take The Chance – The Risks Are Too Great
Guidelines for Safe Use of Vehicle Recovery Straps (Snatch Straps)
Persons intending to use recovery straps should consider completing a nationally recognised four wheel drive training course or contact a four wheel drive club for comprehensive advice on the proper selection and use of the strap.
Snatch Strap Recovery
Recovery Straps are heavy duty nylon that can stretch and spring back to original length.
The combination of the recovery vehicle pull and the tension in the strap creates a snatching effect that can pull a stranded vehicle free from being bogged or unable to move under its own power.
When used in accordance with these guidelines, vehicles may be recovered with minimal injury risk to people or damage to vehicle equipment.
Selecting the Correct Strap
It is very important the correctly rated strap is used.
A strap with a too light breaking strength may break under load.
A strap with too heavy a breaking strength may not stretch properly and more stress will be placed on the recovery points, possibly causing damage or injury.
The Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS) of the strap should be between 2 and 3 times the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of the lighter of the two vehicles used in the recovery process.
Be aware that the Recovery Strap will be under greater load if the vehicle is bogged in mud, sand or heavily loaded.
If the GVM is not stated on the identification plate of a vehicle or its registration certificate it could be available from the owners handbook or from the vehicle manufacturer.
Minimum Safe Distance During a Recovery (Keeping People Safe)
Only the drivers of the stranded and recovery vehicle should be in those vehicles.
The minimum safe distance for onlookers and spectators from a snatch strap or winch recovery set up is 1 times the length of the set up.
For a snatch strap, of a 9 metre standard length, the minimum safe distance is 13 metres.
For two straps, of standard length joined together, the minimum safe distance is 27 metres.
Never stand between the vehicles connected by a recovery strap or in line with the direction of the recovery. Should a recovery point be dislodged it has the potential to become a lethal projectile.
Setting Up The Recovery
Assess the circumstances of the stranded vehicle. If it has bottomed out, clear under the vehicle body so it rests on its wheels.
The recovery vehicle should be placed in line (no more than 10 degrees off the straight line) with the stranded vehicle, for either a forward or reverse recovery operation.
Distance between vehicles should be 2-3 metres less than the unstretched length of the Recovery Strap.
Establish agreed signals between the vehicle drivers, by radio (preferably), hand signals or vehicle horn.
Connecting The Recovery Strap
Carefully inspect the Recovery Strap to determine that it is in good condition. If the strap is wet, dirty, cut or chaffed, it will not perform properly. A wet strap may be 20% under strength, a damaged strap may break. Do not allow the strap to contact hot surfaces or sharp edges.
Roll the strap out between the vehicles, and make sure there are no twists and leave about 2-3 metres slack between the vehicles. The joining of straps should be avoided wherever possible (Retailers carry varying lengths of strap). NEVER USE A METAL OBJECT to join straps ? if the strap breaks it can become a missile and cause damage or injury.
Check your vehicle hand book for recovery point locations, or use correctly rated and fitted aftermarket recovery points.
Joining Two Snatch Straps
There are a number of ways to join two or more snatch straps.? The following method is recommended.
- Take two straps, which will be known as strap 1 and strap 2
- Take an eyelet of strap 1 and thread it through the eyelet of strap 2.
- Take the other end of strap 2 and thread it through the eyelet of strap 1.
Before pulling the two straps tight, place a rolled-up newspaper or magazine between the loops. This will enable the straps to be separated more easily after recovery
Do Not Connect to a Tow Ball or Tie Down Point
Connect Recovery Strap to recovery point, for any recovery point requiring the use of a shackle to attach the strap, use only load rated shackles.
Only connect to correctly rated recovery points on the vehicles, with only Load Rated shackles. Load ratings are marked on shackles as WLL (Working Load Limit). Bow Shackles are suitable for this purpose and should be rated at least 3.25t.
To correctly tighten shackle pins, screw the pin until it seats then back off about to 1 turn. Over tightening may lead to seized pins, due to the force exerted during recovery operations.
To reduce the risk of vehicle damage and personal injury, hang a suitable recovery damper blanket, over the Recovery Strap, approximately midway to restrict the whipping action of a strap should it break.
Last thing Check all connections and clear bystanders to a safe distance (1.5 times the un-stretched Recovery Strap length) to the side of the recovery operation and NEVER in the line of recovery.
Making the Recovery
- Before the recovery operation drivers must agree on the point to which the stranded vehicle is to be recovered and the signal (radio, hand signal or horn blast) when that point is reached
- With communications maintained between both vehicles, and Recovery Strap secure, the recovery vehicle should gently accelerate, taking up the slack and proceeding at no faster than 10-12kph. For best results the stranded vehicle should be in 1st gear (or 2nd Low), and the driver should assist the recovery by trying to drive out approximately 3 seconds from when the recovery vehicle moves off.
- If the vehicle is not recovered on the first attempt, check under the stranded vehicle, again, for obstacles, reset the slack in the Recovery Strap and try a little more speed by the recovery vehicle. NOTE: Excessive speed or continual jerking action whilst using a Recovery Strap may result in damage to the recovery point, chassis and drive line of both vehicles.
- When the stranded vehicle reaches the agreed point the driver should advise and the recovery vehicle should stop, then the stranded vehicle should stop.
- Where proper use of a Recovey Strap is unsuccessful, use an appropriate sized recovery winch.
- Do not attempt to remove the strap until both vehicles are stationary and secured.
- NOTE: – Recovery Straps require rest periods between use to return to their original length and capacity. Excessive pulls over a short period of time can cause heat build up and possible failure.
General Care and Maintenance of Recovery Equipment
- Never allow your strap to rub against sharp or hot surfaces.
- Avoid twists & kinks, after washing, and when dry; always coil your strap for storage.
- Clean your strap with warm water and a mild detergent, allowing thorough drying before storage. Foreign material such as sand and grit can permanently damage the strap fibers.
- Never use the strap as a lifting sling.
- Inspect shackles for damage; if pins are hard to turn, shackle has been overstressed. Replace it.
Safe recovery information compiled by the Australian 4WD Industry Council in conjunction with the 4WD Industry to assist safe use of Recovery Straps
4WD Club Committee Role Descriptions
Committee position descriptions/ guidelines, courtesy of the Bayside Off- Roaders Club.
President Description – president-position-description
Vice President Description – vice-president-position-description
Secretary Description – secretary-position-description
Treasurer Description – treasurer-position-description
Insurance Officer Description – insurance-officer-position-description
Driver Trainer Description – driver-trainer-position-description
Trip Coordinator Description – trip-coordinator-position-description
Public Relations Officer Description – public-relations-position-description
Management Committee Description – management-committee-description