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.
Chinese-made camper heaters are shameless copies of European-designed units and they’re available at a fraction of the price. Our test unit cost $340, rather than around five times that for the genuine article. Performance so far is excellent.
Fitting this kit was easy enough, but we used different clamps for ease of fitment and for simpler bush repair.
ELECTRICS & LIGHTS
With its top-shelf HTX range Lightforce pioneered high-performance hybrid driving lights that combined HID distance globes with spread-beam LED globes. The original 230 HTX driving light was replaced in late 2019 by the HTX2 model.
Ever since LEDs entered the driving and camping light world we’ve seen manufacturers quoting ‘K’ or ‘Kelvin’ numbers as vital attributes of their products. More ‘K’ isn’t necessarily better.
We’ve all done it: opened the camper or caravan and discovered a fine coating of dust throughout the interior. No matter how tightly you close doors, vents and windows, some dust always seems to get inside.
Adding a third axle to a 4WD ute can increase its gross vehicle mass to 4495kg – car driver’s licence limit – or higher in some cases. The additional axle carries some of the additional weight and, being braked, increases stopping power.
COMMUNICATIONS & NAVIGATION
Uniden’s new UH600 radio series are claimed to be built for Australia’s rugged conditions, offering high grade performance in a lightweight, compact design.
This specialist automotive electrical and electronics company’s range of wireless chargers can charge a compatible device without the need to plug in a power cable.
This device alters accelerator response without touching fuel injection computer ‘mapping’.
There’s a current craze for fitting a plain or oily-foam ‘sock’ over a snorkel. It may seem like a good way of keeping your air cleaner element dust-free, but it isn’t.
These three fridge-slide enhancements from Clearview can make bush camping easier.There’s a cable tidy, an extension tray and a full slide-out Pantry.
Safeguard Cargo Net was Australia’s first load rated cargo restraint net and is used by governments, resource and utility companies, tradespeople and 4WDers.
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Most 4WDs spend their time relatively lightly loaded around town and fully loaded on bush trips. Trying to make a fixed-setting shock absorber handle both damping tasks isn’t easy: hence, the adjustable shock absorber.
Supple suspension gives great wheel travel and a comfortable ride, but load and road conditions can sometimes cause ‘bottoming’. There’s a procedure to control this undesirable situation.
Electrification doesn’t mean the end of the internal combustion engine, but tomorrow’s passenger car engines are being designed primarily for hybrid-electric vehicles and as range extenders.
The leaf spring has been with us since horse-drawn wagon passengers demanded better ride quality and the long-serving leaf spring is still the principal springing medium for the rear ends of light commercial 4WDs.
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
Kumho Tyre Australia has announced the launch of a new mud terrain tyre for the 4WD Ute and SUV market. The new MT71 replaces the previous two Kumho M/T tyres: the KL71 and the MT51.
The Ufixit mob is best know for their excellent windscreen repair kit that we wouldn’t leave home without. However, another Ufixit product is a wheel nut spanner that takes the effort and risk out of loosening wheel nuts.