You’ve got yourself a 4×4 vehicle with the sole intent to take you to some of the most breathtaking places in the Australian Outback. But even though all four-wheel-drives are a lot more powerful than your average car, sometimes the performance of a 4×4 straight out of the factory is not able to satisfy the expectations of many off-road enthusiasts.
However, there’s always plenty of room for improvements that can transform any 4×4 into a complete, lean mean machine ready to tackle all kinds of terrain. Modifying your ride with aftermarket 4×4 accessories can be fun and highly rewarding. And the modifications don’t always have to be drastic and expensive. Here are some of the crucial 4×4 off road gear to invest in.
When it comes to outback travel, a bull bar is considered a necessary evil. Sure, they do place a significant amount of weight on your ride which affects its aerodynamics negatively, but the benefits they offer outweigh the downsides. In fact, they are the single most important piece of aftermarket 4×4 off road gear you need to get if you are to venture into the bushy and lively Outback.
Bullbars are attached to the front of the vehicle and help protect it from animal impacts. Even though you may be careful to avoid collisions, there’s always the risk that a wild animal, like a kangaroo, jumps in front of the road. And the impact can easily damage your car and even leave you stranded.
But even if you’re lucky to avoid hitting an animal while off-roading, a bullbar is still useful as it protects your 4WD from all sorts of road hazards such as rocks, ruts, bushes and branches. And the later are a real the problem as they can get jammed into odd places, like the lights or the engine bay.
Bullbars are usually made from steel, aluminium or plastic. Steel bullbars offer the greatest protection and are best suited for locations where there’s a high instance of wildlife. Aluminium bars aren’t as strong as steel ones, but they have the advantage of being lighter. This means that they don’t affect weight and vehicle handling as much. Plastic bullbars are the lightest and many of them are made of low-density polyethene that’s UV resistant, corrosion resistant and in the event of minor impacts can return to its original shape.
Even though most 4×4 have robust tyres, it just so happens that the Outback has one of the toughest terrains on earth and most of them can’t handle it with ease. This means that you may need to switch out your existing tyres with aftermarket ones.
Aftermarket off-road tyres are characterised by deeper tread patterns that make for better traction and thicker walls that allow them to go over jagged rocks and sharp sticks without getting damaged. But even if your existing tyres look strong enough for the Outback, it’s still a good idea to invest in spare tyres before heading out on any adventurous trip. However, some very aggressive tyres may make your 4WD illegal on the road so be extra careful when making your purchase.
The suspension that comes with a new 4×4 is generally small and not very suitable for heavy off road use. Investing in a suspension upgrade increases the clearance between the vehicle and the ground. And this is crucial for preventing damage to the most vital parts of the 4×4.
Additionally, the vehicle’s wheel and axle articulation and load-carrying capabilities can also be improved. This 4×4 accessory also benefits the users as well by making the rig more responsive to bumps and changes in the terrain which enhances overall comfort and ease of handling.
And all of these benefits not only help you to reach your destination faster and with greater comfort, but they also make your 4×4 safer to drive on challenging terrain. In other words, taking the time to find a suitable aftermarket suspension for your vehicle and needs is essential for tackling the difficult off-road conditions.
The Outback terrain is unpredictable and sometimes water may be in your way. Fitting a snorkel on your 4×4 can help you to safely overcome any deep water crossings. Additionally, this off-road accessory can significantly improve your vehicle’s performance by feeding the engine with cool and debris-free air. This prevents the engine from overheating and getting worn out easily, thus prolonging its durability and overall performance.
On the market for 4WD accessories, you’ll find that snorkels are made of a variety of materials. For off-road conditions, it’s recommended to get a snorkel that’s made of LLDPE (linear low-density polythene), a material that’s highly resistant to impacts, corrosion and UV rays. You may also need to check that the snorkel comes with anti-vibration nuts, bolts and brackets that will help keep it securely in place no matter how bumpy the ride is.
Being far away from the city and its bright lights, you’ll really understand how dark the night can be. Even though it’s not advisable, certain conditions may require you to drive around the Outback at night. And when you’re driving in this pitch-black darkness it can be hard to see what’s on the ground and in front of you with your standard lights. Changes in the terrain can seemingly appear of nowhere which is risky.
That being said, it’s recommended to fit some aftermarket spotlights or a light bar to properly light the road in front of you. Not only will this help you avoid road obstacles, but the brighter lights also help scare any wildlife away from the road in time.
Even though they aren’t an essential upgrade for off-road safety, roof racks can be useful if you’re planning to camp. They are attached to the top of the vehicle allow you to carry some bulky things on top instead of in the trunk. And this helps to distribute the weight in a more balanced way without decreasing the 4×4’s aerodynamics. As a result, you’re able to carry bigger loads with you without worrying that your right will slow down.