A beach driving holiday is perhaps on of the most Australian type of getaway. As the saying goes, we’re a sunburnt country. Driving up the legendary Pacific Motorway, or indeed around Australia is a dream many of us one day wish to do. We love our cars, and we love the beach, so it makes sense to combine the two, right?
With the rise of SUVs over the past ten or so years, many drivers have thought about taking their car to the sand, to hop around some sand dunes, then camp for the night to do it all again the next morning. It sounds like a great way to spend your family holiday, so carefree. It sounds like a great idea, but is it really?
The short answer is yes – but there are a few tips everyone needs to take on board before sending your SUV into the dunes. We spoke to David Basha from Kumho Tyres to get some beach-driving advice.
Q: Do I need to reduce the air pressure in my tyres to drive on sand?
A: Yes, it is best to reduce tyre pressures when going on sand. You should be looking for the vehicle to ‘float’ across sand, not dig into it. A tyre with lower pressure will ‘bag’ and not dig in as much. Just before driving onto the sand, lower your tyre pressure to 18-26 psi (lower for dry sand – down to even 10PSI – and a bit higher for predominately wet sand).
Picture a hoverboard gliding across the water; that is what your car is effectively doing on the sand with reduced tyre pressure.
Q: What else do I need to know before driving on a beach?
A: It’s very important to research things like tidal flows – you don’t want to be cut off at the wrong time! Also have equipment to assist in digging yourself out of any trouble – like getting bogged in some saturated sand – so maybe a shovel, some wooden boards to put under tyres etc. If you are a single vehicle you can’t really winch yourself out of anything as there more than likely won’t be any trees around! In that regard it’s best to go to areas frequented by others, especially if you are new to it. You don’t want to be isolated if something goes wrong.
Q: Is beach driving a good idea?
A: It’s a great idea and a fantastic leisure activity. You can find surf and fishing spots on the beach, as well as great campsites along the beach, plus it won’t damage your tyres. Straight ribbed tyres such as highway terrain are probably best suited as they will move across sand without digging in as much. All-terrain tyres are good and mud terrain tyres can also be used, but with care.
Before you hit the sand…
Most SUV tyres these days are designed for suburban driving on paved roads, and not much else. In fact, many SUVs only offer 2WD, rather than the traditional 4WD. 4WD tyres are meatier and up to the task of handling wet and soft sand more than most stock tyres.
Take it easy. It’s meant to be a pleasurable drive! Stomping hard on the accelerator can dig your tyres into the sand quicker, making bogging more likely. If you find yourself making slow progress, make sure you are using low range – if your car has it – and take your time getting out of a pickle. Remember, it’s like a finger trap – the more you struggle, the more likely you are to get stuck!
Finally, consider the laws of beach driving in your state. Checks to make sure the beach you want to frolic on is actually a beach it is legal to, and consider any homes and people nearby. When leaving the beach, remember to re-inflate your tyres when going faster than 50km/h!
Overall, beach driving can be a very enjoyable experience when done right. Following these tips on your next holiday will make sure you get the most out of beach driving.