Owning a 4×4 in the UAE and not taking it on desert safari is equivalent to storing candies in the refrigerator only to have a good look. The dunes are literally begging to be climbed upon. But how far do you think things will be the way you imagined?
Dunes are one of the most challenging terrains to cover, majorly because of the texture of the land that lies beneath the vehicle. Minute sand particles that make up the dune can easily swallow your tires provided you do it properly.
Dry dunes pose a greater challenge than the damp ones. Simply because damp dunes harden the sand, giving your vehicle a significant amount of traction to plunge through. On the other hand, you’ll be a busy spinning wheel on a dry dune due to the varying and unstable texture.
Setting Up Your Vehicle
Begin with the part of your vehicle that is in constant contact with the sand. Your control over the vehicle is primarily dependent on the state of your tire. Hence, it is wise to deflate your tire to an extent which will give you a wider tire track, allowing to better float over the surface of the sand rather than cut through it.
Despite driving at careful speeds, you might be surprised just how much damage and can do to the underside of your vehicle. Hence, if the underside of your 4×4 is equipped with little more than plastic splash guards, you’ll really want to avoid hitting the base of sand dunes too quickly. This can, however, be avoided if your vehicle is fitted with some comprehensive under-body protection plates, covering vital components such as the lower edge of the radiator, the sump, the gearbox and the transfer case.
Momentum is everything. Before taking on the big slope make sure your vehicle is ready for it. Hence begin with putting our vehicle in the right gear that will give you enough torque to cross the slope at once. It is important to cover the slop at one go, so trying out the second and third gear would be wise.
Before starting the dune, make sure you trace out the high points on the slope by avoiding previous tracks and heavy contours. This will offer the hardest surface for better traction.
Once you reach the top it is important to back off a little as the other side would not be immediately visible. Getting caught off-guard by another sudden drop can be another one of your misery tales for later.
Rollovers are easy if you do not drive your vehicle straight up the dune. And in time when your vehicle stops, the wisest thing to do is to put it in reverse and come straight down.
While you might think that gravity could make things easier for you, it will not. You still need to keep an eye out for dips and contours and stick to higher points where the sand is firmer. A leashed car on a lower gear will let you have complete control over the car, further improving the traction.
If there’s another dune in front of you, start to accelerate just before you reach the base of the dune you’re currently descending, as the sand between dunes can be very soft and you’ll need momentum to get through. Be careful, however, to check for drop-offs or step-ups that could cause the front of the vehicle to dig into the sand if you’re going too fast