Australia isn’t exactly known for it’s extreme winter conditions, but being a part of a sub-tropical environment, the climate can always throw up a random weather anomaly that can catch just about anyone off-guard. While the tropics settle down in terms of heat and humidity, Winter is the time of extremes in Australia’s more southerly regions, meaning it pays to be prepared should you be heading off-road and get caught in snow, sleet, fog or mud. Follow a few vital tips though, and you’ll be tackling terrain like it’s the middle of summer (and having a lot of fun doing so).
Be Flexible With Tyre Pressure
Should you be caught in a flash rainstorm, be hit by snow or anything else that can dramatically alter the terrain under foot, the last thing you want is to be running on tyres that are set up to run on hard, dusty tracks or tarmac. Keeping a 4×4-oriented portable air compressor in the boot can have your tyres precisely inflated or deflated super quickly, helping you maintain as much grip as possible on just about any terrain.
Invest In Recovery Tracks
If you haven’t already, it’s about time to catch up to the majority of 4×4 enthusiasts in investing in a set of 4×4 recovery tracks. They take a huge amount of hassle out of navigating your way out of slushy snow, thick mud or just about any other soft terrain, meaning less time digging for you and much more versatility in the the types of situations you can tackle.
Look After Your Internals
The things most likely to be seriously affected by extreme cold are your engine and ignition systems. Batteries can discharge in the cold, and in extreme situations engines can even be damaged when trying to run in freezing temperatures without adequate protection from antifreeze. Before heading anywhere particularly cold, ensure your battery is in proper working order, as well as your heater core, unless you don’t want any heating in your vehicle’s cabin. This is also the time to make sure your hoses and pipes are in proper working order, as well as the mix of coolant and water in your vehicle’s cooling system.
Finally, make sure to warm your engine up properly. You might get away with a cold-start the rest of the year, but some conditions aren’t quite so forgiving.
Bolster Up Your Recovery Equipment
Whether you could do with a fresh pair of gloves for the cold winter or your snatch strap is starting to look a little frayed, winter is going to be one of the harshest times on the performance and durability of any of these things. This is particularly important if you’re heading to somewhere in an alpine region or far away from densely populated areas, as temperatures absolutely can drop below freezing in some of Australia’s colder areas. You don’t want your recovery gear to fail you.
Ensure Your Lighting is Adequate
Winter means shorter days, longer nights, more fog, more mist, and ultimately less light. Remote areas always experience the worst of this, so making sure your lighting set up is able to navigate you through these kind of conditions will give you a whole lot more peace of mind when heading off-road. LED light bars and 4×4 driving lights are great for most low-light driving in remote areas, but fog lights are essential should you be heading to places regularly hit by fog and mist.
Read Up on Driving In Winter Conditions
Anyone with experience driving in the places where Australia does regularly get snowfall will tell you that driving in snow is a whole new kettle of fish to driving in mud or sand. Snow and ice are not just incredibly slippery leading to more spins and moments of lost control, but should you be too heavy on the throttle trying to power out of a fishtail, you can melt the snow under your rapidly spinning wheels and find yourself in a heap of trouble.
Keeping good recovery gear in these conditions is vital, but learning to read the kind of snow you’re driving over is also incredibly important. Soft, wet snow will compact easier and provide more traction, whereas dry snow will be more powdery and unstable under the heavy weight of your vehicle.