PO Box 667 Moss Vale NSW 2577 Contact Us

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Here are some typical enquiries we get at Outback Travel Australia and our responses.  

Buy new or second-hand?

We always buy second-hand, but that doesn’t suit everbody.

Q: Hi guys. I came across your Toyota 75 make-over and I am doing something similar. I would just like to know how the Resomat worked for you and if you did it again would you do it a different way? – Lyle J.

A: We were happy with the Resomat under-mat insulation we bought and recommended it.

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Q: Do you have any information on a replacement brake system for Troopy? Nicely laid-out website – best regards, Tim B.

A:(We suggested some replacement and upgraded brakes that we’ve checked out.

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Q: I’m looking at replacing my seats and would appreciate knowing where I can get on to suspension seats of great quality – Edward M.

A: Suspension seats are at Seats R Us, but we have Recaros in our own ute.

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Q: Hi Allan. Spoke to you at the Marla servo in July this year, we were heading to Surveyor Generals Corner and return via Hay River. You were heading home to Moss Vale. I have been reading your site and am interested in the upgrade of the 78 Series handbrake. Can you shed any more light on availability of the components? – Terry B.

A: It’s a brake kit from Bendix with upgraded handbrake shoe linings.

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Q: I still drive my 60 Series Sahara that I purchased in 1989. Since then I have done some major mods to tow our caravan. Because this van weighs 2.52 tonnes unladen I needed to do some upgrades to be able to legally tow this van. Firstly I rebuilt the 12HT engine: new turbo upgrade to boost to 14 pounds, air to water intercooler, PWR radiator, no fuel increase and standard injectors. It developes 510Nm and it returns 17-18 litres per 100km towing fully laden van. So with late 80 series front brakes, chassis strength increase at rear, 200 Series tow bar and air assisted rear suspension we were able to have this engineered to 6900kg GCM. So with some sensible upgrades these older vehicles can still perform as well as newer vehicles – Peter H.

A: Nice upgrade, we reckon.

Campervan, motorhome, slide-on, camper trailer or cross-over?

The choice isn’t always easy to make and we’ve done our best to explain the advantages and disadvantages of these options in our Camping section. Here are some specifics we’ve been asked:

Q: We have a BT-50 extra cab and cannot decide between a tray-back camper and a camper trailer. Is it better to have a single heavy vehicle or a lighter vehicle and camper trailer? Your advice will be really appreciated – Karen T, Coolum Beach, Qld.

A: We gave them the pros and cons, of course. Our own choice is a slide-on, but that’s best for two-up travellers, not families.

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Q: Hi Allan, we met you at a rest stop on our way down to Sydney recently, in our new Mercedes 4×4 motorhome. You were telling us about having taken the Trakka version down to the waterfall at Kangaroo Valley. We’d love to read the article – Barbara H.

A: It’s in the Buyers Guide on the site.

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Q: I saw the story on the Golf off road Savannah camper, but for the life of me I cannot contact the makers. Do you have any idea where they’re made and how to contact them? – Arie V.

A: We had no luck, either, dealing with these people and she bought something else.

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Q: Fantastic article and video on the Unimog, Allan. I have been working on Daryl Beattie’s Unimog, designing a winch bar for him and he has mentioned you and your website a number of times – Ben N, Unimog Central.

Q:Hi Team. We would love your website to do a review on our Tailgate tray-back camper. It has been getting very positive comments at the shows we attend – Irene H, Vic.

A: So we did – it’s in slide-on campers.

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Q: I am looking to buy a 4×4 van to convert for camping and I’m looking at the 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter: the model which can be driven on a car licence, seems the ideal vehicle. They don’t mention the price, so I was hoping you could help me with that – Noel S, Port Macquarie, NSW

A: We did – it’s around 22-grand more than a 4×2.

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Q: Hi, we are looking at upgrading our soft-floor camper trailer. We have two children, six and 10. We have been looking at different options: Kimberly Kamper, Cub Brumby and possibly even a Goldstream pop top. We have ideas about going up north again on the rough stuff! What would you recommend to help us to choose? We have a Patrol wagon to tow with – Cindy G, NSW.

A: We suggested the Cub for its ruggedness and value for money.

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Q: I am after a tent for the rear door of a T5 Transporter. Do you sell them? – David H.

A: We don’t, but Trakka did.

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Q: Is it possible to buy the roof top tent on the Carry Me Camper? – Patrick M.

A: Jacksons were only too happy to oblige.

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Q: Please could you send me a copy of the RMIT canvas test outlined on your website – Lindsay S.

A: We’ve kept a copy and it’s available to anyone on request.

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Q: Hi guys. I don’t know if my question comes under your knowledge but here goes: will the gearbox, transfer box, drivelines and front diff from a 96 HiLux be strong enough to be fitted to an 86 Toyota Coaster motorhome? – Bob B.

A: No! Get LandCruiser bits.

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Q: Hello, I just read your Isuzu NPS300 article. Could you please tell me what year Isuzu this refers to? Did they upgrade the suspension on the 2013 model or 2014 model? – William T.

A: There have been suspension changes, but they’re minor. Standard ride quality is still poor, but Earthcruiser has upgrades.

Can I fit diff locks to a 4WD that has traction control?

Our testing of different ESC and TC equipped vehicles shows that the electronic systems work well with diff locks, because the electronic aids don’t have to intervene as much. Hill descent control also works well with a locked rear diff.

All 4WD makers’ factory-fitted diff locks are restricted to low range operation, because of the adverse handling effects of operating a diff locked axle at high speed. It’s obviously a safety issue. However, if you know what you’re doing, using an after-market diff lock in high range at low to moderate speeds is not dangerous – such as on beach sand.

In fact you’re better off in high range first than low range fifth, because fifth in most 4WD gearboxes is a tiny gear that’s easily damaged.

Warranty can be compromised only if the diff lock use can be shown to have caused a driveline problem. If you use the lock correctly – only when needed and not on high-friction surfaces – you shouldn’t have any problems.

Q: I am considering putting a rear Harrop E-Locker in my new Prado GXL diesel: do you think warranty will be compromised? Handbook says to lock the diff on the Kakadu only when the central diff is locked and in low range. Your article describes using twin diff locks in very attractive terms when the rear is locked and the TRC and stability are still on, even in high range. Your thoughts would be valued – Leo W, Taringa, Qld.

A: We assured him that if care is taken and speed is low, there are no issues.

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Q: I would like your guidance re the merits of either a NoSpin locker or a Truetrac LSD. I have not driven a truck with a Detroit locker and have heard many conflicting stories about handling issues concerning cornering. My question is, can you really feel the unlocking action in a corner? – Jill S.

A: We assured her that there is some locking and unlocking action, but the SoftLocker is far less intrusive than its predecessor.

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Q: G’day, I’m looking into lockers, ARB Air or Harrop ELocker – David W.

A: We recommended the ELocker because a wire is easier to fix in the bush than an air line.

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Q: Hi! I wish to by ELockers for my LandCruiser 80, and I was wondering if you could get me a total amount for a front and rear ELockers and shipping cost to Norway? – Torgeir B, Norway.

A: We did and Harrop sent them over.

Can I watch TV and listen to radio in the bush?

Infotainment services are improving all the time and we try to keep on top of this fast-changing topic.

Q: Hi, I have a Jayco 20ft van with a digital TV fitted. I just got to Mudgee where I have been lots of times in the past and had good reception, this time just hash. The owner at the van park says it’s because Mudgee has gone digital and even his reception in the office is rubbish. What can I do to correct the problem for my van and this is going to happen more often all over the country, do I need a new aerial or have I got to go for a satellite dish? – John E.

A: We updated him on digital reception.

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Q: I wonder if you know of any books for kids that can keep them amused and be educational as well: something with birds, reptiles and plants they can find and check off so to speak. It would need to be outback specific. Be great if you have any ideas – Iain M, Old Bar NSW.

A: We sorted it with some on-line titles.

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Q: Can you recommend a world radio that works in remote areas such as the Kimberley? – Leonie M.

A: Ours is a Sangean with short-wave band and works nicely in the scrub.

Do I need bars?

Most people bar-up before going bush and we’ve detailed the different types in our Modifications section. Here are some  questions we’ve ben asked:

Q: Allan, I’ve just bought an ex-Govie ’08 Patrol fitted with a Smartbar. I understand it can accept a winch but haven’t been able to find out much re availability. My questions are (obvious, I suppose): is the Smartbar worth keeping (have seen ’em referred to as Gaybars by the more bogan elements) and do you know of anyone who can do a winch for it at reasonable $$s? – Stephen J, Kununurra, NT.

A: We gave him the right info about chassis winch mounts and a necessary sub-frame.

Do I need driving lights?

Standard headlights are getting worse as anti-dazzle legislation gets tighter. For safe bush travel at night every 4WD needs help.

Q: Hi Allan. Just read through your informative article on driving light types. You finished it off saying that you would review other LED driving lights in the future. BTW, great job and some excellent info available on the site! – Russell O.

A: We’ve continued to add LED driving light and bar tests to the site.

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Q: Hi there! Great website and reviews! Quick question regarding driving lights: if distance isn’t a huge priority (HID spots) does a product like the Lightforce LED 215s become a good option, and is there an advantage to having two spread beams over combination of spread and spot? – Dale B.

A: We suggested a combination of 215 spread and spot, for optimum results.

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Q: Could you please do a test of the Aussie made Fyrlyte 9000 halogen lights. I would love to see how they compare to LED and HID lights – Steven C.

A: So would we, but we’re tired of asking them to lend us a test pair.)

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Q: Hi, I have just purchased a set of Hella Rallye FF 4000 Compact iX Series XGD Spread Beam Driving Lamps. I was wondering if I could replace the chrome rim with a red rim – Bill W.

A: Hella sent him some rims.

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Q: My son and I are taking part in the Mongol Rally – 9000 miles in a one-litre Nissan Micra – as a bit of fun and because we can. I’ve fitted a couple of spot lights to roof bars but on full beam the light intrudes significantly into the cabin and renders them useless. My question is, if I fit “pencil beam” spot lights, such as the Hella Rallye 3003, is this likely to resolve the issue. Thank you in advance – Stuart V.

A: We don’t like roof-rack-mounted lights, for the very reasons explained by Stuart and the fact that tree branches will smash them. Bar-mounted Hellas should do the trick.

How do I improve performance?

More power and torque needn’t be a problem with engine reliability, unless you drive with a heavy foot all the time or tow a heavy trailer at high speed. 

We’ve also tested a few vehicles with chips installed and the performance improvements are dramatic. Of course, powertrain warranty is void once you fit a chip, so you need to consider that factor.

Check out modification details in our 4WD Mods section. 

Q: G’day. I am about to purchase a July 2003 Landcruiser 4.7 V8 Petrol with only 69,000km on the odometer. Currently I have an 80 series 4.5L dual fuel which was on LPG when I bought it with 130,000km on the odometer. It now done 347,000km, which means it has done in excess of 300,000km on LPG without any issues. The 80 series compression is still even and very good for its years and kilometres. So, my question is: do I convert the 100 Series V8 to LPG? – Mike F.

A: We suggested not converting it, because Toyota expressly forbids the conversion – it’s a totally different engine from the old six.

How much can my vehicle tow?

Safe towing depends on the vehicle, the trailer, the driver and legal compliance. We’ve covered these aspects in great detail in our Towing section and here are some specific questions we’ve been asked:

Q: What are the rules around Australia regarding towing on an A-frame? I have a 12m bus turned into a motorhome and weighing 12,000kg and I have a 2500kg 4WD and we are trying to find out the requirements – David F, Girrawheen, WA

A: We sorted him out with the legalities and directed him to the Towing section stories.

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Q: I have an Isuzu D-Max tray back with canopy towing a 16ft caravan and we are getting 9.6L/100 kms: can we do better? – Allen M, Northampton, WA

A: We told him he was doing fine.

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Q: I remember enjoying reading your articles on the L300/Express 4WD vans years ago with Dad. Today I looked up your article and video on the Mercedes Sprinter 4WD van. I notice the Sprinter is only rated for two tonnes towing capacity: can these vans be ordered with a higher towing rating along with the diff locks mentioned in your article? – Steve K, Katherine, NT.

A: We told him ‘no’ to both questions, because M-B is too dopey to bring in all the available Sprinter 4WD kit!

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Q: Hi Allan. My wife and are leaving to travel Australia for many years. Our caravan will be 19-21ft and we are looking at many different vehicles. I wanted to ask you about the Great Wall 4WD diesel. My other thoughts were older Landcruiser like 80 series gone over and done up. Like your website. – Rod M, Freeling, SA.

A: We steered him away from a Great Wall and into a used LandCruiser wagon.

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Q: Hi Allan: looking at buying a new 4WD to tow my Jayco Expanda 16 foot van. What is a good vehicle to buy, with good fuel economy? I don’t to a lot of off-road driving – mainly on the beach. Thanks for your help, regards – Karl O.

A: We gave him a short list of good towing and beach-capable wagons.

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Q: I have just read the very helpful Hyland Hitch test on your website. Having just bought a caravan with a Hyland Hitch, I have been looking for advice on maintenance requirements for this hitch. Cheers and congratulations on a great website – Graham W, Vic.

Q: Could you please let me know the prices for trailer ball weight scales, please? – Joe D, Vic.

A: We sent him a list of models and prices.

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Q: Just watched your test drive of the Isuzu MU-X. We have looked at this SUV and are very impressed by it. We would like to know if any tests have been done on towing caravans. The fact it has a three-tonne towing capacity has really got us interested – Shirley S.

A: As with all medium wagons and utes we reckon 3-3.5 tonnes is too much and around two tonnes is more realistic.

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Q: I have a coil-spring Discovery 3 and am looking for advice on how best to set it up for towing and off-road (Victorian High Country and Flinders Ranges) driving. Is it convertible to air suspension on the rear so that I can resettle the car to level? Can anything be done other than tougher springs? Any help or advice is appreciated – Rod B.

A: Taller, stiffer springs with Polyair inserts at the rear are the most cost-effective alternatives.

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Q: Hi Allan. I am looking at buying a 2010-2014 HiLux 4×4 dual cab diesel 3.0L ute. My current 2003 Nissan Navara manual five-speed is a 3.3 petrol V6. Will the new HiLux be able to tow my Coromal Silhouette PS421 better than my Nissan Navara in terms of fuel consumption and power/torque? I just don’t want to buy a new ute and still be no better off – Justin T.

A: We reckoned the diesel would pull better and use less fuel. Also the gearing is better, making lift-offs easier.

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Q: At last a real explanation of tow ball weight theory. I am used to European standards and just cannot understand why AUS/USA use 10-15-percent weight. It’s too much, unless someone has a vested interest in load levellers, or am I just being cynical! – Gordon H.

Q: Towball weight and trailer stability. A great article for science against myth. My question is about the Bath Uni research. “optimum nose mass was found to be 6-8% of the trailer’s gross mass” Is this 6-8% of ATM? – Pierre H.

A: Yes.

Must I have 4WD training?

It’s not mandatory, unless your working conditions demand it, but we think everyone needs 4WD training – we did. Here are some training questions and answers:

Q: I need your help to find contacts for 4WD driver training in our area. At this time I’m not aware about the level we are looking for, but one new job requires for our surveyors a certificate of 4WD Training – Silvia B, Yass, NSW.

A: We steered her to 4WD Off Road Driver Training.

Should I buy a ute?

Utes have their advantages and disadvantages, and we’ve covered most of the pros and cons in our Buyers Guide section, Reviews and Tests section.

Q: The GVM on the LandCruiser is a joke! My tray-back with full fuel tanks, steel tray, winch and driver weighed in at 2700kg and the GVM is 3200kg, this leaves only 500kg of legal payload – Marcello A.

A: This is a common problem and we urge all ute and wagon buyers to be careful.

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Q: Hello Allan. I enjoyed your ute comparison article, especially as it relates to axle and nett carrying capacity. Keep up the good work and all the best to you, family and crew – Brian S.

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Q: I have a 2011 Toyota LandCruiser V8 ute and would like the rear wheels to track the same as the front – Albert H.

A: We steered him to two product stories on the site.

Should I hire or buy?

The choice is yours and there are many more hiring options available these days.

Q: Dear sirs, the Trakkadu 132 ORP seems like a perfect choice for a road trip in Australia. Is it possible to rent it anywhere? Google isn’t of much help here. We are planning a 3-4 month roadtrip in Australia. Can you help us? – Anni Cordes, Denmark

A:We couldn’t get them a Trakkadu, but Motorhome Republic got them a vehicle.

Stability control is usually cancelled when in low range - is this a problem?

You wouldn’t normally be travelling in low range on a dirt road, so ESC will be active and works very well to keep the vehicle stable – it won’t ‘fishtail’. In soft sand, such as on beaches, you can be in low range or high range, but in either case you don’t want ESC interfering with power delivery – in high range you can deselect ESC.

If you get a sudden flat tyre when running on a dirt road ESC will help keep the vehicle stable. There may be more tyre damage than without ESC, but a tyre is cheaper to replace than a 4WD. We use tyre pressure monitoring, so we never get a surprise blowout.

Tent or camper?

There are many camping options and this is the most basic choice.

A tent is by far the cheaper option and is easily transferred from vehicle to vehicle. Downsides are the need to unpack and pack every time you make and break camp and vulnerability to weather conditions: wind and rain.

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Q: I’m looking at a new tent and have come across the Jet Tent F25. Can I have your opinion, please? – Sheree S, NSW.

A: We steered her to the test on the site.

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Q: Hi, I am looking for a tent that will go up in seconds – Leanne H.

A: Easy: OzTent’s Maverick.

 

What 4WD batteries should I buy?

Not all batteries are the same and we’ve provided a wealth of information on this important topic in 4WD Mods – Electrics.

Q: First of all I like your site. Lots of info. I’m new in the country and just bought a Troopy. My two batteries have to be replaced. Can you give me any advice? – Martijn, Petersham, NSW.

A: We suggested sealed lead-acid, because they’re mounted under-bonnet, where they get hot. AGM batteries hate heat.

What 4WD should I buy?

This is the most common enquiry we get and it’s not an easy question to answer, because people have different requirements and expectations from their 4WDs. Some want only mild off-road ability, while others want a vehicle capable of going seriously bush for prolonged periods.

Before deciding on a vehicle we suggest you assess your real needs. Then read through the information on this site – should take you  a while! When budgeting, allow for the cost of accessories you’ll need to convert a standard vehicle to a bush-touring one: light truck rated tyres, better suspension and improved lights are obvious ad-ons.

If you need some advice, send us an email – we receive many buying advice requests and we’re always happy to help. Here are some examples:

Q: Hi Allan, I’m thinking of buying a 4WD and I’ve looked at Pajero, Prado and ‘Cruisers. My budget is 35-40 grand. I think the Disco 3 is the only one that gives me the technology, comfort and 4WD capabilities, but my mechanic insists that they are very unreliable and I should buy a ‘Cruiser. Please advise me – Chamil W, Windsor, Qld.

A: We did advise him that his mechanic was right!

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Q: I have a Ssangyong Musso Sports twin cab that’s done 140,000km and in good condition. Had it from new and never missed a beat. Is this vehicle suitable for outback travel and is the old tech Mercedes motor well enough known for outback mechanics to fix if need be? – Glenn F, Bowen Mountain, NSW.

A: We told him to take some obvious spares and go for it.

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Q: Hi, I was just wondering whether it is best to buy a Toyota LandCruiser Troop Carrier running on diesel or LPG/Petrol. I know that costs of LPG are a lot lower than diesel, but apart from that, power-wise and in areas with high temperature conditions, which one is best? We will also be travelling in the most remote areas of Australia, such as Tanami, Cape York, Carpentaria Gulf, is LPG supplied in those areas? We are undecided between a 2000 4.2L turbo diesel and a 1995 4.5L LPG/Petrol Landcruiser. What do you recommend? – Nick O.

A: We recommended diesel, because LPG isn’t available at gravel-road servos.

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Q: Hi, my wife and I are looking at purchasing an FJ Cruiser. We have read your review on the FJ and were concerned about the 20+ litres per hundred fuel consumption while towing – Paul B.

A: Sadly we confirmed this and the fact that Toyota won’t ever put a diesel in the FJ.

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Q: Hi Allan. This site continues to be an outstanding source of relevant information. I was exposed to a mate’s Grand Cherokee on the weekend and I’m wondering if Jeep has done any enhancements that might allow a second battery to be installed? Finally, is there a good range of after-market accessories available? – Mark A.

A: We suggested not.

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Q: Dear Allan, I want to congratulate and thank you on your amazing website. I am American so please excuse me if my vocabulary might be different from that in Australia. I am new to 4X4, off-roading, expedition, overlanding. I currently live in the United Arab Emirates, but not sure where I will live next. My question is as follows: I have been saving and planning on purchasing a true full-time 4X4 large wagon and then modifying it with roof tent, lift bigger wheels, refrigerator, etc. My question is in your experience, what is the most capable off-road large wagon out there. I would most probably need the driver on the left hand side, since most of the countries drive on the right hand side. I tend to think diesel is better than petrol and automatic better than manual. I am not interested in extreme rock climbing but rather a very capable true 4X4 large wagon. I am open to purchase the vehicle anywhere worldwide. Thank you for your time and attention – Jorge M, UAE

A: We suggested a diesel 200 Series LandCruiser.

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Q: Looking at buying a dual cab chassis ute. Have got it down to Isuzu D-Max SX and VW Amarok Trendline. Will do a bit of everything, price not the main issue but rather servicability if and when required. Which would you choose and why? – David S.

A: We suggested the D-Max, for its better pricing, proved reliability and relative simplicity.

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Q: Really confused about which 4WD to purchase for short trips around WA. Mostly city driving, but do want a reliable 4WD to go bush occasionally. Been considering Jeep Grand Cherokee, Landrover Freelander 2, but now reading good things about Mercedes ML class. Can you help out? – Stephen B, WA.

A: We suggested avoiding Euro vehicles with ‘toy’  or no spare wheels.

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Q: Hi there. I’ve really appreciated your site and its great info. We’re looking for our first 4WD at the moment and will be heading off to spend 12 – 24 months camping around Australia. We have $35,000 to spend on a 4WD. We have no preference as we’ve never had one before. We are fine with S/H vehicles. What would you recommend we purchase as we plan to get well off the beaten track? Our other question is, who do you recommend as an insurer for an enclosed trailer plus associated equipment? We have a fair value of computer equipment along for the ride as I will be doing App Development on the road. Looking forward to any advice you can give – Matt C.

A: We suggested a used wagon and insurance through Club 4×4 Insurance.

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Q: Hi, I’m new to 4wdriving and I just want to get an idea of how capable my crossover SUV is. I have a 2014 Jeep Cherokee KL Limited – Petrol, Active-Drive 1(no low range) I am very keen to take it off-roading but want to know your advice on the vehicle’s limits. So far I’ve taken it sand driving and I was stuck on a small hill and couldn’t go forward but it reversed out OK. I aired-down to 16psi for sand driving, do I need to air-down that much for other terrains like dirt, gravel sand, rock etc? Any help would be appreciated! – Bill Z.

A: We don’t recommend any soft-roader – a wagon without low range – be taken onto a beach, because we’ve seen many get stuck and damaged as a result. Also, they lack the clearance and underbody protection for trail driving.

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Q: G’day folks. Found your site while researching a suitable 4WD to replace my existing one. In the time that I have been reading articles on your site I have been impressed with the content and currency of the information provided. As such, I’m hoping you might be able to provide me with a bit of advice for my next purchase. I am sorely tempted to buy a Landcruiser 70 Series dual-cab ute. The ute will be fitted with a tray and canopy, and used as a work vehicle the majority of the time. However, I want a vehicle with serious off-road capability and one with the grunt to tow an off-road camper trailer. I have a few misgivings about the 70 Series Cruiser though and am also seeking suitable alternatives. The price of the Cruiser is crippling to start with and it seems that ride comfort is average at best. It is quite a dated beast technologically as well so there is a fair bit on the debit side. In its defence I’m sure that it is an extremely capable and tough performer, and this is what’s keeping me interested. Are there any real alternatives to the Cruiser? I’m looking at the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50, and the Hilux. I do question the power output and performance of these vehicles when compared with the ‘Cruiser so would welcome any advice you can provide – Steve O.

A: We suggested he buy the ‘Cruiser if he had the budget.

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Q: I just wanted to say you guys do a great job on your 4WD reviews and videos. I love reading and watching your new bits and pieces as they pop up. Just wanted to say I bought a Foton Tunland after reading and watching your review and I’ve had it for a year now. It’s lifted for mild off-roading and I’ve done 40,000km with no major issues to report. Thanks again for doing a great job. – Paul S.

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Q: Hi and thank you for your great site. I am considering buying a new Range Rover, but am concerned about LR reliability. I don’t know if it has improved with the newer generation products, or if it is still woeful – Salmaan Q.

A: Our experience with owning a LR was very poor, so we don’t recommend anyone buys one.

 

What recovery gear do I need?

What you need depends on where you go. We’ve covered the topic in 4WD Recovery Techniques and here are some questions we’ve been asked:

Q I have an Australian travel website and in my safety section, linked your website article on safe winching as it was the best I had seen – Judy M (Motherhen).

A: Thanks Judy, glad we could help.

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Q: Hello Allan, I have brought a hand winch and I want to purchase a snatch block to use with it. The manual says I need a pulley of a diameter of 18 x the diameter of the cable, which is 11.5mm. This means a snatch block of 207mm diameter. This is a big snatch block both in size and probably in weight. Does this seem right to you? – Jim S.

A: We pointed him to our story and video on using synthetic rope on a snatch block in conjunction with a hand winch.

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Q: Hi Guys, I am looking to fit a PTO to a Toyota LandCruiser and was hoping you could help with some information on the Jost brand – Chris B.

A: PTOs are difficult and expensive to fit to modern LCs, so an engine-driven or electric hydraulic pump is the go.

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Q: Hi Allan. Your video on hand winching has confirmed for me that I will use synthetic rope to run through my snatch block when using my hand winch. You mentioned that at the tail end of the synthetic rope you tied a bowline. Was this knot hard to undo after the winching operation? – Jim S.

A: Bowlines normally come undone fairly easily.

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Q: Hi Allan. I’ve read your story on ‘ever stronger snatch straps’. I have the problem of owning a fairly light-weight 2006 Jeep Cherokee that weighs about 2000kg. If I follow the recommendations, I’d need a snatch strap that has a breaking strength of about 5t – Stefanie B.

A: Snatch strap strengths are excessive in most cases. Try to buy a lighter weight one.

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Q: Hi Allan. Where can I buy a Bush Winch? Just saw your review and like the idea. I have a Suzuki Grand Vitara and don’t want a bar and winch weight up front. Thanks – Glenn A.

A: We put him on to Bush Winch in WA.

What suspension changes should i make?

Most 4WDs leave the factory with compromise suspension, to suit the majority of buyers’ needs. However, tailoring your vehicle’s suspension to suit your specific needs can improve ride, handling and load-carrying ability. Here are some questions we’ve received:

Q: Hello, I own a VW Amarok Highline and I had a look at your review. I would like to add some new suspension and shocks, but not sure what kind though. Are Old Man Emu any good? – Dimi A, Melbourne, Vic

A: We said ‘yes’, but suggested he go for a premium brand – Koni or Bilstein.

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Q: Hi there. I read with interest your article on fitting Bilsteins to your D3, particularly the re-valving. I have a D3 TDV6 equipped pretty similarly to yours and which is now approaching the 100K mark on the original shocks. Although it’s not equipped w a winch bar, it’s running 265x65x18 BFG ATs, which are quite a bit heavier than the standard rubber and we tow an AOR Quantum Supercamper (off road a lot). I’m looking at replacing the standard shocks with something better and was wondering how I could get a set of Bilsteins valved up like yours? Any idea of the cost? Also, did you look at, or know anything about the Koni FSDs made for the Disco and whether they’re any good for Australian conditions? – Martin K.

A: We told him that Bilstein finally gave up on trying to fix the D3 front suspension.

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Q: I have read a review of the Series 70 Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carrier. Do you have suggestions about remedying the body roll problem due to soft suspension on the rear of this vehicle, because you say an after-market suspension is essential – Mike G, Adelaide, SA.

A:We recommended a combination axle track and suspension change.

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Q: G’day Allan. I’m seriously considering buying a 76 GXL wagon, but I have a few concerns. I test drove a Troopy because they didn’t have any wagons in stock. I test drove the car on road and the things I noticed were the ride was very bumpy, the tires were narrow and the gears were stiff. Is there a difference between the 76 and the Troopy? I had a 1984 Range Rover and it drove better than the Troopy. Do I need to modify the car? – Symon T.

A: Yes, the 76 rides better than the Troopy, but both are agricultural when compared with a Range Rover. The upside is strength and reliability. Suspension mods will help.

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Q: Allan, from your experience are Bilstein shocks a good choice on an 80 Series used for towing and touring. Not keen to lift, back to standard preferred. I have no experience to rely on so must trust advice and that varies. Heading down Hay River then left to Birdsville – Phil Y, Tas.

A: We’ve been using Bilsteins for many years on different vehicles and we don’t get paid to do so.

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Q: Hi. Just about to order a 200 series GXL with KDSS. I will be upgrading the suspension. I see you commented if you’re going to upgrade suspension for bush work don’t get KDSS. Will this vehicle be worse off-road if I combine the two? Your thoughts would be appreciated – Steve H.

A: No need to pay for KDSS if you’re upgrading the suspension.

What's causing a lot of corrosion?

Stray current electrolysis is corrosion caused by unwanted electrical current passing through the metal components of a vehicle – including the radiator. It’s usually caused by poor earth lead connections, forcing current to flow back to the battery by unintended paths. Check your earth leads and connections as regular service items.

Q: Hi Allan. We have Earthcruiser building us a vehicle. We are wondering if you have had anything to do with electronic rust protection. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated – Pete K, NSW.

A: We told them that the Daily 4×4 and the body are well rust-protected and to save their money.

What's the best form of camping power and lighting?

Solar panels and LEDs have changed the way we camp these days.

Solar means you don’t have to run a generator or idle the 4WD engine to keep your camping batteries charged.

LEDs are bright, cheap and come in many different shapes and sizes. They draw less power than incandescent or fluoro lights, so they’re kinder to batteries.

Q: Hi there. We have been camping for the last year around Victoria and we’re sick of buying bags of ice every day for the two eskies and tired of trying to find power to charge the camp lights. We need an all-round solar package to run a few lights a fridge, maybe a small bar fridge and to charge our lights mobile phones, iPod and speakers. What is the best package at a good price as we know sweet bugger all about solar and when we go to a shop it’s all double-Dutch – Doug M.

A: We suggested a Projecta folding panel, in conjunction with a 100AH AGM battery.

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Q: How can we get rid of flying insects around our lights?

A: We’ve tried many different types of camp lighting and all of them attract insects to some extent. Yellow lights seem to work better than white, we agree, but it’s the dimness, not the colour that we think does the trick.  We find that LEDs running at low intensity work as well as yellow fluoro lights and use far less power. A trick we have when camping is to make camp well before dusk and have all the cooking done while there’s still some daylight. That way, we can enjoy our meal with a dim LED lantern that doesn’t attract insects on its low setting.

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Q: I would like your advice as to a solar kit. I would like to take my laptop camping and this is the only item that will need electricity. Could you recommend a solar kit that is highly reliable, efficient and easy to use? – Dianne P, Adelaide, SA.

A: We directed her to a Projecta folding panel kit.

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Q: Hi, I have a very old fluorescent camping /work torch with a small tube in it and a beam torch on the end. It was working fine until the fluoro went in it and now I don’t seem to be able to get the right globe or there is another reason it is not working? There is 12 volts to the ends of the tube but it won’t light it up. Do you know why this could be? – Rod C, NSW.

A: We gently suggested the effort wasn’t worth it and the light should be replaced with an LED item.

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Q: I am looking around for solar power 12/24 volt washing machine and microwave convection oven, to use in our motorhome while travelling Australia, do you know where I may go to find these products? We have four solar panels on the roof of our motorhome – Kerry AS.

A: We gave them a short-list of suppliers.

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Q: Soon to buy a generator for around-Australia trip for two years. We will do a lot of free camping away from everything – David E, NSW.

A: We suggested a name brand with good support around Australia, not a hardware store ‘cheapy’.

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Q: Thanking you so much! Glad I found you could answer so many questions. Your Solar Power article really shed some light on the difficulties I’m facing – Jed K.

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Q: Hello. I am looking for a lithium deep cycle battery to run a 35W 35L portable fridge which will be continually charged by my 80W solar panel. What battery would you suggest? – Phil G.

A: We put him on to Revolution Batteries.

Where can I go safely?

Australia is a wonderland for bush travellers. Our Destinations section details many trips and we get a lot of enquiries as well:

Q: Hello! I want to travel Australia by 4WD, but I have some reservations about travelling by myself. Do you have any tips or advice before I set out into the wild blue yonder? – Ashley P, Hamilton Island, Qld.

A: We directed him to our travel advice stories.

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Q: Hi Allan. We’re interested in travelling the Never Never tour that I read about on your website. How can I find out about dates and booking for this? Also the Hay River Track, if you have any information on tag -a-long tours this year or next – Moyra LBS.

A: We connected her with Jol Fleming’s Direct 4WD Awareness site.

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Q: I read in the Discovery 4 review: ‘The Discovery 3’s original nav system was useless in the bush until we upgraded the mapping and that brought it up to Disco 4 level, which is very good’. What was the upgrade that was undertaken? – Thanks, Darryl M.

A; We told him to argue with Land Rover about the exorbitant price for an upgrade and he scored one for far less.

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Q: Hi there, we are seniors who would like to travel from Sydney via Uluru and Alice Springs then somehow make our way to see Karijini NP, Monkey Mia then head home across the Nullarbor. We have been to Katherine, Kakadu, Kimberleys, Gibb River Rd, Broome and Perth. We’d love your ideas and advice regarding possible itineraries for our travels – Shirley L.

A: And we gave them plenty!

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Q: Hi, I would like to request permission to use a photograph of a 4WD crossing a log bridge to illustrate a story I am writing for a writer’s forum. This story is not for sale nor wider publication. In 1985 my husband and I spent four days stuck on the Creb track and very few photos of the trip have survived. It was such a terrifying trip. After losing traction after eight inches of rain, we slid backward down the big hill and plunged through the underbrush, coming to a halt about two-thirds of the way down and there we stayed, with the Rover roped to trees and boulders to hold us there until the rain ceased and we could dig our way out – Katrina D.

A: We obliged with the piccies.

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Q: Hi Allan. I noticed your review of the Trakkadu ORP 2014 had good things to say about the upgraded lower gearing. I’m possibly in the market for one of these vehicles for the purposes of touring some of Australia’s great national parks. As I have never done one of these trips before I’m interested in your opinion as to the limitations of the 2014 Trakkadu ORP model. Would it for example be able to go across the Simpson Desert or into the Bungle Bungles. I know a lot of factors come into off-roading including the driver’s abilities but from the standpoint of the vehicle alone can you see it going to some of the more rugged areas? – Alex C.

A: We gave the Trakkadu the thumbs-up for this task.

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Q:  Hi, I have a question for Allan: I was wondering where he did the video for the Isuzu MU-X review. I have just bought one and that looked like a good place to go – Evan J.

A: It was shot at NSW’s Yuraygir National Park, at Pebbly Beach.

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Q: We will be travelling in our Toyota camper van which is dual fuel, LPG and unleaded but with a very small petrol tank. Our route will be from Far South Coast of NSW, through NSW via Adelaide and then Flinders Ranges, back to the highway and then up to Alice, Darwin and then some time heading down the West Coast until Broome. Do you know if there is a way of checking we can get LPG along this route, every 3-400km? – Claire D.

A: We suggested they not do the trip as planned, because of the scarcity of LPG in the bush.

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Q: Need to look at increasing fuel tank capacity on my LandCruiser Sahara 2008 model. Any advice, help or guidance appreciated – Adrian K.

A: We suggested a LongRanger steel tank, with a caution about exceeding GVM if too much other freight was loaded on board.

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Q: Hi. I have a 1998 3.4 petrol Prado with 170k on it. I currently use it on the beach at Straddie and Fraser. I am interested in touring around Australia and am wondering if this a suitable vehicle and if so what mods you suggest – Allan W.

A: The Prado petrol will do the job, but you may need tougher tyres. It’s thirsty if pushed hard or towing.

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Q: Hello. My mates and I are planning a trip via the Madigan Line. If it is possible I would love to talk to one of you regarding, duration, fuel and conditions. I would really appreciate if I could give you a call to have a quick chat? – Hugh R.

A: We rang and gave Hugh some pointers.

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Q: Hi, I am doing some route surveying, I’d appreciate any advice on how to access Australia wide topo maps that work within google maps/earth applications or suggest the best software application to view locations both in planning and remotely in the outback and also be able to view and share the trip undertaken via GPS tracking – Adam P.

A: We use Hema Map Apps, including topos, on our iPads and iPhones.

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Q: Hi Allan. I note that you travelled the Sandy Blight Track just a few months ago. Could I please ask the condition of this track and if I am able to drive this track towing a 17ft off-road caravan with a LandCruiser? – Angelo T.

A: No problem, we assured him.

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Q: Hi Allan, just a couple of 4WD questions. We have just purchased a new Prado 2016 GXL (thanks to your testing/videos) and wanted to get auto trans cooler fitted for towing purposes as well as diesel fuel water/fuel filter. Problem is Toyota dealer (Mandurah WA) says it will make our warranty null and void. I said if I got some dodgy fuel the warranty becomes null and void. He agreed. I just feel that I am between a rock and a hard place. Any thoughts? Love your website and keep up the good work for us novices – Mike S.

A: We advised that late-model water separators won’t affect fuel line pressure delivery to the injection pump, so shouldn’t pose a warranty issue.

Why change my 4WD's wheels and tyres?

The tyres 4WD makers fit to their new vehicles are compromise types that suit the bulk of perceived buyers. For serious load-carrying bush work you need something better than bargain-basement rubber and light-truck-rated tyres are much  stronger and more puncture resistant than standard tyres. We’ve covered this topic in detail in out 4WD Mods section and here are some specific questions we’ve answered:.

Q: Does anyone know anything about fitting bigger wheels to the Sprinter 4WD 519 van? Thanks – Kim N, Wollongong, NSW.

A: We steered him to our contacts at Oberaigner in Europe who build the Sprinter 4x4s for ‘Benz.

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Q: Totally agree with your article on run-flat or space-saver spares. We have a Tiguan and live down about four kilometres of graded gravel road. We put a stone through the tread and thankfully were at home. So I changed to the space saver – but, no towing and limited to 80kmh! So I had to drive down to Nowra at 80km/h in a 100km/h zone, with the trucks wondering what the hell I was doing. Should be a Design Rule in Australia! Good article – well done! – Ralph R, NSW.

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Q: Morning Allan, I’d like to take advantage, if I may, of your long-accrued wisdom/experience et al. My Rangie has Continental 4×4 SportContact tyres, but I will be replacing them before venturing up the Oodnadatta Track – Ralph J, Vic.

A: We recommended Kumho KL61 replacements, after our long term test results.

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Q: I have enjoyed looking through your site and am looking at the LSM Tyre pressure monitoring system. Any comments /experience with their Ride On tyre sealant? – Ken H.

A: Yep, we’ve tested both extensively and recommend both.

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Q: Hi, I am reading your link: https://outbacktravelaustralia.com.au/4wd-mods-legalities/4wd-modification-legalities. I recently purchased a 4X4 with tyres 30mm-diameter undersize. I have been told this is a defect and should have an engineer’s certificate – Keith E.

A: We suggested he fit standard-size rubber.

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Q: Hello there, I was reading your information on the VSB14 in regards to tyres and tyre changes, and I’m a little confused whether I can make a change that I would like to. I reside in South Australia, and drive a 2008 120 GXL series Toyota Prado currently running 265x65x17 tyres, and would like to fit 265x70x17 tyres . This therefore increases the overall diameter by 26mm. Is this legal with the new laws? – Chris P, SA.

A: This was a legal swap, because the vehicle wasn’t fitted with ESC.

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Q: I have a Prado 2011 VX with 18-inch wheels. I have been warned off taking these with MT STZ tyres on the CSR and advised to move back to 17-inch wheels. What would you advise? – Jonathon B.

A: Good idea, because there’s much wider LT tyre choice.

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Q :We have had steel spoked wheels recently fail. Is there a way of identifying good from bad rims? I just read your article about wheel rims failing – Malcolm McS.

A: Stick with ROH Mine-Rated wheels and you should be fine.

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Q: I came across your site and saw that you have a few articles on the legalities in modifications of 4WD’s. Wondering if you can help me clear up some questions I have re: the legalities of increasing tyre size and installing a suspension lift for my 2000 VX Prado petrol? – Jason A.

A: We gave Jason the good oil on legal changes.

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Q: G’day Allan! Have you had any issues with BFG KO2 in the wet on tar? It has been alleged that they can unexpectedly let go. I am thinking of buying a set of 265/75×16 – Neil B.

A: We had no such issues with our test tyres.

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