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Words Martin Pretorius We might describe our offroaders as either petrol- or diesel powered, but that isn’t the whole truth: in reality, just about every passenger vehicle ever made is also powered by electricity. But, before you mutter that you don’t drive a hybrid, you need to remember that almost every engine does, to some extent, depend on a steady supply of power from the battery and the charging system. We’re not even talking about electronically-controlled engines here, for even the most primitive diesel engine needs glow plugs to start, and old-school petrol engines need 12 volt on their ignition

Words Martin Pretorius The ageing ML500 almost didn’t make it to the family’s picnic spot, falling foul of a muddy incline about halfway up the access path. Recent rain and poor drainage had turned the fairly good dirt road into a slushy mess, in which neither German engineering nor fancy electronics couldcreate motion without friction, and all its power went to waste in a spray of mud and lots of old-school V8 exhaust roar. Fortunately, a hero with a Hilux came around with a tow rope and swiftly pulled the mud-splattered SUV to level ground, proving that it’s unwise to

Words and Images Martin Pretorius No matter how lightly you’ve touched the accelerator pedal of your off-roader, it has never achieved the respectable fuel consumption figures claimed in the owner’s manual. It has actually never managed to come close to those numbers – not even when it was new. And, while it’s easy to assume that the manufacturer misled you by adding a glow to the official figures, or that there’s something wrong with your vehicle, the blame actually lies neither with your right foot, nor with your vehicle, nor with the manufacturer. No, the problem really lies with the

Words Michael Harber Most people get mud terrain tyres simply because they look good!” I had heard this comment from more than a few of my 4×4 friends while out on a trail, and I tended to agree. As 4×4 trails have become a hobby of mine in the past couple of years, I have slowly been kitting out my Pajero to be better suited to such an activity. First, I fitted underbody protection, rocksliders and a front bumper, and purchased all the recommended basic recovery gear. After having saved up a little more, I then fitted a suspension kit

Words by Angus Boswell, images by Colin Mileman It is pretty difficult to quantify the abilities of a tyre to the public. The more scientifically-minded might be interested in details of composition and construction, and how these affect grip, handling and longevity. Others are swayed by tests: relative braking distances, times around a track, ultimate grip levels at speed. But, for most, they are round, black things that hold the car to the road − what’s important is how long they last, and how much they cost to replace. So, it is refreshing to get to grips with an off-road

Words by Martin Pretorius Long gone are the days when camping in the wilderness implied a large dose of “roughing it”. Back then, you would cook with fire, refrigerate with gas, read by dim, battery-powered fluorescent lights, and forget about a TV or sound system. That was until our quest for home comforts ushered in the era of the inverter, which allows you to watch rugby on your portable DSTV receiver, or to power a microwave oven. Until the battery runs down, at least. Inverters, with all the luxuries they bring, are particularly ravenous and capable of draining their host

Your off-roader has never let you down before: nothing can halt its progress, no matter how severe the obstacle. It’s your trusted companion, the one you rely on to get you where you want to go, whatever the conditions. Until that fateful morning when it refuses to start, that is. You whip out the jump-start cables (or connect your battery charger) and get it running soon enough, but when the same thing happens a few days later, you recognise the first signs that somewhere in the system, something has gone wrong. This is usually the point where most owners would

Words and images by Jaco van der Westhuizen How do you turn a 1994 Hilux SFA farm bakkie into a V8-powered showpiece? Turns out that it takes more than a few days and a fistful of dollars. The result? Priceless… I have a total fascination with Toyota vehicles, mainly Hiluxes and the SUVs, but things really got going about five years ago when I was working part-time for a mining equipment company in Middelburg. At this time, I was waiting for my renewed work permit allowing me to go back to Angola, where I had been working for Caterpillar as

Words by Martin Pretorius We all know that it’s a bad idea to fill your diesel engined vehicle with petrol. In a best-case scenario, doing so will cost you some money and inconvenience while the tank is being drained of the offending liquid; in the worst, it will cost you an engine rebuild. Consequently, you’re very careful at the service stations, making sure that your trusty steed gets only the highest quality, cleanest diesel: and, as long as you don’t venture too far outside of the major metropoles, it’s fairly easy to keep your modern diesel on a healthy diet.

Words and image by Martin Pretorius In the traditional marketplace, diesel-engined off-roaders used to exist only for certain, specialised buyers. Farmers, miners and lumberjacks found them useful for their fuel efficiency, toughness and longevity, and overland adventurers knew that diesel was often the only fuel to be found out in the bush. For everybody else, there was always a petrol-powered alternative, with more power, less noise, and no smoke. Then the turbocharger made its appearance; and, after microchips also got to work their magic on the humble oil burner, the performance difference between petrol- and diesel-powered off-roaders was just about

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