In Australia, outback trips are the stuff of dreams! There are so many people, old and young who dream of touring the Australian outback.
The biggest problem for many is that they have no idea how hard it can be, nor do they understand what is required from you and your vehicle to get out and see the country.
During our most recent trips we have seen many people who have bought a new vehicle and caravan so that they can head off for months at a time, even a year or two.
This leads me to a topic which many people pay absolutely no attention: their equipment.
Our drive from Sydney to Perth
It was during this drive that I found that good preparation and careful planning are only the first steps to enjoying a great holiday.
Whilst I can “repair” most things in my vehicle and camper trailer and I was confident of my vehicle’s preparation, there is nothing better than actually doing your 2 month trip.
Why do I say this?
When you sit down at the end of your first long trip and say to yourself: “I learned a few things” then you will understand where I am coming from when I say this.
Things you cannot prepare for, nor fix!
- During this Sydney to Perth trip we visited some out of the way places, and in one instance I needed to unhook my camper trailer so that we could turn around!
Having driven into a dead end, and there being no room to drive out, the only solution was to unhook the camper trailer and then turn the vehicle around without damaging the vegetation too much.
In the process of turning around, I reversed into a hidden rock, hitting the exhaust pipe dead centre and putting a split in the “engine pipe” – the engine pipe is up near the motor and is actually attached to the exhaust manifold in my vehicle.
We were many kilometres from a repair centre, and there is not much that anyone can do to repair this damage “on the side of the road”. In fact, the repair can only be done by replacing the engine pipe.
By the time we reached “civilisation” the noise coming from this “split” was becoming unbearable and it was also causing the car to use a lot of fuel.
2. The other problem we had for which the “best” preparation did not locate and or prevent, was when the “split pin” holding the steering tie rod together was not put in by the installer originally or a subsequent repairer (luckily I didn’t do this one!) and not noticed by subsequent mechanical checks by mechanics (and myself, but I do not include myself as a mechanic).
The point in mentioning these two things is that when travelling it is advisable to not rest on your laurels because incidents do occur, and it doesn’t matter who or what caused it, you could be “stuck” in the middle of no-where.
What can one do to reduce the impact of these unusual problems.
Stay at Home! This was the advice that one of my friends gave me, and it suits his personality because he is the proverbial “stay at home king”! And that is his prerogative, he is perfectly happy with this style of living.
One other point here: It doesn’t mean that because your vehicle is near new that you are immune to these issues. On our 2 month trip we came across two “brand new” vehicles, on separate occasions, pulled over on the side of the road, both because of mechanical failure.
Known issues with your vehicle
If you drive a particularly new vehicle (ie less than 5 years old) it is advisable to find out what are the known issues relating to your vehicle, for instance:
Common rail diesel engines
The newer common rails have a DPF. These have been known to cause problems in a number of diesel engines.
Also, if you have a common rail diesel, your choice of service station could have a major impact, as “dirty fuel” is a bit of an epidemic at the moment. Common rail systems have very fine tolerances for “dirty fuel”.
Standard equipment fitted
Many new vehicles, 4wd’s included, are fitted with adequate equipment but this equipment may not be suitable for your intended purposes, or those suggested by the marketing of the vehicle.
Suspension and tyres are usually fitted to enable the vehicle to be safely used when driven in the city or on sealed highways. They are usually found to be less than satisfactory when:
- Towing a caravan, and
- Travelling “off road”
- there will be more, so talk to your 4wd specialist about it.
If you are in the position where you are leaving work, selling the home and heading off on that exciting, once in a lifetime trip around Australia with your trusty 4wd and camper trailer, then this next bit could describe a “habit” you may need to employ:
Go over your vehicle and camper trailer at least twice a week checking for:
- loose items,
- leaks from anywhere,
- dents or “things” sticking out from under your vehicle, or anything a bit “unusual”.
I tend to do it twice weekly, but if a track is bad or corrugations were bad, I do it daily. It is all about getting to know your vehicle and observing the tracks.
Many people have told me to do this every day!
If you have any specific tips that we all should know, please leave a comment below.