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Browsing: Trail savvy

The go-to guide for safe driving off the tar By Jacqui Ikin The subject of off-road driving skills has been the basis of numerous books and endless debates the world over. Everyone has an opinion – some more valid than others. I don’t believe it’s possible to train off-road driving skills from the pages of a magazine alone. As with any practical skill, only experience creates ‘unconscious competence’. For this reason, a hands-on training course through a professional service provider is a highly recommended foundation for the extended journey of becoming a competent off-road driver. That said, it is possible

We all love the sound of an old Rover V8 or the scream of a four-litre Lexus-powered Cruiser blasting up a dune. These large capacity eight-cylinder drinkers sure are good to hear and even better to drive – if you’re not paying the fuel bill. Nowadays, modern petrol engines have lost much of their aural tone and character, but despite being half the size they make the same power as V8s of 20 years ago. The case for diesel engines is the same, with downsizing taking effect and cylinder counts dropping. To keep power up but fuel consumption down manufacturers

When you’ve just purchased your new pride and joy, the first thought after unwrapping the ribbon in the dealership could well be along the lines of, “What’s the best way to run-in the engine and transmission to ensure optimum performance and the longest possible service life?” Older mechanics will probably give detailed schedules of maximum rpm and periods of cooling off for both a new and rebuilt engine. Some of what they say might be true, but this remains a contentious topic with many opinions and no single ‘right way’ to do it. Manufacturers these days make things simple and

The leaf versus coil debate has been going on since Land Cruiser 70 Series drivers got jealous of the comfy ride in coil-sprung Land Rover Defenders. We joke, but both leaves and coils have a range of benefits and drawbacks that suit different vehicles and needs. How you value these attributes could affect your next choice of vehicle… The task at hand Your vehicle’s suspension system is possibly the hardest-working, least understood, most abused and under-maintained aspect of your rig. The average bakkie is expected to safely carry a ton, but remain comfortable and stable when empty on the school

Anyone who has to load cargo vessels for a living will tell you that packing is a science with a bit of art thrown into the mix. When crossing oceans, you can’t have ships listing to one side or prows pointing to the stars. Same with the guys trying to fit the contents of large houses into the defined space of a furniture removal van. These guys are the true Tetris geniuses, because there’s hell to pay if priceless antiques are left behind, or the van falls over at the first roundabout. Loading up for an overlanding mission is much

Guys like to be kitted. There’s even a sense that if you have more stuff than the folk in the campsite next-door, that you’re a better, more organised person. That smug sense will be wiped clean away when it comes to the reality of driving your 4×4 laden with all that clutter. Quite simply, an overloaded vehicle is a dangerous vehicle, not only in the handling department, but also because it is more prone to mechanical failure. Apart from the strain on the drivetrain, a vehicle that’s too heavily loaded at the rear will have overly light and unresponsive steering,

What is wheelbase, and how does it affect your rig off-road? We take a look at the pros and cons of different vehicle lengths, and how to alter your driving approach to match.

As four-wheel drive systems have evolved over the years, many different variants have surfaced to do essentially the same job: distribute power to all four wheels. How this is achieved through various systems affects vehicle dynamics on- and off-road. Last month we explained how electronically-controlled clutches automatically distribute power, a system typically used by All Wheel Drive (AWD) soft roaders, which are not equipped with low-range gearing. In this article we explore how the mechanical Torsen (TORque SENsing) differential works, what its benefits are and its application – typically on large SUV-type 4x4s with longitudinal drivetrains, low-range gearing and permanent

Recovery tracks work on the same principle – no matter whether they are the steel or aluminium ‘sand ladders’ that overlanders have been using since WW2, modern composite versions, or a host of other fold-up or roll-up contraptions. Quite simply, when you are on a soft or slippery surface, these all spread the load under your wheels to provide a grippy platform that helps you to get going again. At SA4x4, lightweight plastic recovery tracks are our first go-to recovery aid, and we never leave on a four-wheeling trip without them. The Australian company, Maxtrax, was one of the first

From the purple low-riders of Los Angeles to the blinged-out SUVs in rap videos, we’ve all seen the trend. Huge wheels are now an intrinsic part of motoring culture and modern car design. While giant rims with painted-on tyres may look great stuffed under a wheel arch, they have several drawbacks which are most obviously highlighted off-road. Take the new Land Rover Discovery, for example. Its standard fitment wheels range from 19- to 22-inch, a trend echoed on many premium four-wheel-drive SUVs. This makes a mockery of the 4×4 capability of these vehicles. From personal experience and simple common sense,

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