4WD MODIFICATIONS & ACCESSORIES
Buying the right 4WD is critical and in this Buyers Guide, we highlight the strengths and weaknesses of new and used wagons, utes and heavy duty off-road vehicles. Also in the Buyers Guide are motorhomes and campervans. Many of the vehicles tested have video reports to let you see how they perform on and off road; and some also include tow tests. There are also suggestions for desirable bush modifications.
BARS, WINCHES & SIDERAILS
Many people see a winch as a means of increasing the off-road ability of a 4WD. It’s an impression that’s easily gained by seeing how off-road competition blokes and gals go about conquering seemingly impossible obstacles, but that’s not how you should look at a recreational vehicle winch.
You only have to see how serious 4WDs are dressed up for bush work to appreciate that out-of-the-box 4WDs are underdone for Outback travel and off-road driving. The most obvious addition that most people fit is a bull bar.
So, your air conditioner doesn’t feel as cold as it used to and you’ve heard about DIY re-gas kits that are available through accessories supermarkets and on-line. Can we suggest you read this article first!
Many DIY 12-volt systems fail because of inadequate wire sizing, poor quality connections and inadequate fusing and earthing.
ELECTRICS & LIGHTS
Narva’s EX2 LED driving lamps and bars combine performance and durability, with a wide range of colour customisation options. Patented switching does away with the need for a wiring harness.
Narva’s Ultima LED MK2 driving lights set a benchmark and that technology has been employed in the company’s Ultima 8 and Ultima 24 light bars. An optional joiner bracket kit allows multiple bars to be connected and a controller can regulate light intensity.
As 4WDs become heavier and the list of ‘essential’ equipment increases, many 4WD owners find that their vehicles are overweight. There is a way around this situation, but it mightn’t be cheap.
Our Outback Travel Australia restoration project, rebuilding and modifying a LandCruiser 75 Series tray-back, is an ongoing exercise. We continue to use it as a test bed for all sorts of gear.
COMMUNICATIONS & NAVIGATION
Elon Musk’s low-earth-orbit satellite internet service is gradually expanding around the globe and now provides mobile, remote-area coverage, but there have been issues.
We bought our satellite phones years ago and wouldn’t leave home without one of them; a couple of vehicle breakdowns and medical emergencies during our travels in Australia’s Outback and our best satellite phone has more than paid for itself.
Many new 4WDs have electric cooling system fans, but nearly all older-generation 4WDs are fitted with thermal clutch cooling system fans. These are not everlasting items, so will need periodic maintenance or replacement.
RYCO Filters was recognised again as one of the Australia’s most innovative companies in the latest instalment of the Australian Financial Review’s (AFR) BOSS Magazine awards.
Australia’s leading, premium 4WD aluminium tray and canopy manufacturer, Norweld, has unveiled a groundbreaking new-generation tray design.
If the freight won’t fit inside it has to stay at home or go on top, but it’s vital you know how much is too much.
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
The reason not a lot of effort is needed when braking is your vehicle’s brake booster that amplifies the force your foot applies to the brake pedal. A more powerful booster can improve braking performance.
Toyota’s 70 Series braking has never been very good and its handbrake very quickly becomes useless unless mechanics are careful with set-up and adjustment.
We’ve read many theories on why corrugations occur, but Outback Travel Australia’s conclusion is that nobody really knows. Also, corrugations occur on river beds and on coastal shores, on asphalt and concrete roads, on railway lines and in the atmosphere.
This Australian Sytech engine was purpose-designed as a ‘range extender’ for some electric vehicles and a turbocharged 1.5-litre version is scheduled to enter production with an electric vehicle maker in China in 2025. The Sytech engine uses a modified ‘Scotch Yoke’ principle.
LOKKA is an automatic differential locker that can be fitted to front, rear or both differentials. This auto-locking diff centre has been manufactured in Australia since the 1990s.
In the accompanying story Differentials Explained we’ve looked at the different differentials that are popular in the 4WD world and now we’ll look at their selection and use.
TYRES & WHEELS
Goodyear launched the improved DuraTrac RT in September 2023, with claimed improvements in durability and on and off road performance. The Wrangler DuraTrac RT was designed for 70/30 off-road/on-road use.
Kumho Tyre Australia has released its award-winning All Terrain tyre range, the Road Venture AT52. We’ve been testing a set since early 2023.