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Sand Driving in 4WD (Detailed Explanation)

Before embarking on an adventure in new lands, it is essential to be fully equipped with knowledge. If you enjoy racing on the vast sands in your 4-wheel drive vehicle and are a fan of all-terrain cars, the following article may be of assistance to you: “Sand Driving in 4WD.

How To Drive In The Sand Driving In 4Wd

Professional Training

Sand driving is a unique challenge, but you’ll soon cross the dunes safely and confidently with a few golden rules. We would recommend seeking professional training with a 4WD drive club or a training organisation.

Engaging 4WD

If you’ve never taken your 4WD off-road, you must understand how to engage 4WD! Most 4WDs these days have automatic locking front hubs; select 4WD high, and it will do the rest. Lock the centre differential if you have one. Those with older 4WDs may need to turn off the air conditioning and manually turn the hubs to the 4×4 (or locked) position.


Before driving in the sand, it is critical to understand the terrain. Sand comes in many forms and varies in density depending on the weather and even the time of day. We recommend bringing the proper recovery equipment and travelling with at least one other 4WD.

Road rules

There are no restrictions or signs when driving in the sand. Many people travel in a large sandy area, especially on vacation. Ensure you signal enough that people around you know the direction to drive and the route you want to take.

Also, do not drive directly behind another 4WDer. You don’t know their skill level or the terrain ahead, and they could come to a halt faster than you can and cause an accident.

Sand Driving in 4WD Risks

Water crossings

These can be thrilling aspects of 4WD driving. However, with so many variables, it’s easy to get yourself into trouble if you don’t know what you’re doing. The water depth, current strength, and water bed surface all play a role. It’s also important to understand your vehicle’s waiting depth, so you don’t damage the engine. Always determine the best route across the water crossing before driving in, and walk across first if you’re unsure.

Let the engine and transmission cool before entering the water, and attach your recovery strap. Let some air out of the tires first, and for deeper crossings, consider coating your engine’s electrical connections with a water-resistance spray. Leaving your window open is also a good idea if you need to flee quickly. When it comes to moving water, slow and steady wins the race.

Shifting Tides

Be aware of rapidly changing tides if you drive on the beach. The ocean can easily swallow a 4WD vehicle. If travelling in a convoy, keep plenty of space between yourself and the car in front of you and keep an eye out for sudden elevation changes. Sand driving can be a lot of fun, but there are a lot of variables. Take your time, proceed with caution, and use common sense.

Beach Sand

Beaches are lovely, but they are not playgrounds for your truck. If you get stuck on a narrow, boggy, sloping beach, you’re in a race against time and a potential disaster.

To get out, drive uphill and away from the water. There is no way to retreat down the hill. Your car will always want to go downhill and into the water. The more you try to get out, the deeper your vehicle sinks into the surf. As the waves wash in and out around your stranded car, sand is washed out from beneath the tires, further dragging it down. Add a rising tide, and you’ve got a recipe for a 4WD burial.


Don’t panic and try to accelerate when you realize your car has become stuck in the sand. Instead, use your parking brake to keep your vehicle in place while you get out and assess the situation.

Then you can dig the sand out from around the tires. You should leave at least a few feet of space in front of and behind the tires. Next, pack the sand down and make a path in front of the tires. If you have a shovel in your car, now is the time to use it, even if it is a child’s beach toy shovel!

Related post: Choosing The Right Sand Tire (Detailed Guide For Beginners)

Sand Driving in 4WD Tips – Tricks on Sand

Tyre Pressure

Reduce your tire pressure to increase the amount of tire tread available to you. As a guide, we suggest having your recommended tire pressure and don’t be afraid to reassess and adjust if you think it is necessary.

If you’re driving a full-size 4X4 wagon, start at around 20psi and work your way south, depending on the conditions. Don’t go lower than 16psi because you risk rolling the tire bead off the rim at lower pressures (more on that later). It might be worth dumping more air if you’re below the high tide mark and get stuck. Make sure you get the pressure back up to a safe level as soon as possible.

Wheel speed and momentum

Keep the vehicle speed stable, around 25-30 km/h. Pay attention to adjusting the speed to suit the porosity of the sand, the vehicle next to you, and your next direction. If the sand is soft, a low-range first-to-fourth gear is ideal. Suppose your car doesn’t have to work too hard to a high degree. That is fine too, in first and second gear. Don’t have the revs down too low or near the rev limiter; it’s unsuitable for your 4WD and unnecessary.

Use Sand flags

These flags add a layer of protection to the sport of four-wheeling. As strange as it may seem, collisions happen in the wide-open spaces on which we four-wheelers drive. Those flags assist you in seeing and being seen. This is particularly true in hilly or dusty terrain.

Go straight up and down

Assume you’re halfway through a dune and don’t have enough energy to continue. You’d like to return to the foothills and try again. You’re about to turn around, but don’t! This has the potential to tip your car over. Avoid going around the front of the vehicle by going straight down and straight up.


You may sometimes have to move on the sand in the middle of the rising sun. Wash and scour grooves will be challenging to detect until your vehicle is about to pass through them. Plunging at high speed into a deep hole is not a pleasant experience. Slow down to avoid this. Alternatively, invest in a good pair of sunglasses, preferably polarized. Because they eliminate the glare of the sun, these accentuate gradations in the sand much more effectively, giving you time to see and react to any drastic changes in the terrain ahead.


When turning, make sure you only use smooth steering wheel input. If you jerk the wheels too hard, the low tire pressures will cause the tire bead to roll off the rim.


Getting enough clearance under your 4WD is critical, where many all-wheel drive SUVs get stuck. If you have enough space and struggle with approval, you can leave the main ruts and create your track.


Adventures will become more exciting than ever if you are well-prepared for any eventuality. We hope the information above is helpful. Drive in the sand driving in 4wd is a fantastic experience. Have a great trip.

Related Post: Best Tires For Drifting