Driving on sand dunes and along the beach can be an exciting and exhilarating experience. Beach driving isn’t just for summer beach vacations, but throughout the year for bonfires, s’mores, and more. Unfortunately, it can be dangerous and damaging if you do not take the proper precautions. If you are planning taking an off-roading beach excursion, make sure to follow the three tips listed below.
Check Your Tires
One of the first things you should do is make sure your tires are ready for the difference in terrain. If your tires are old or have a less pliable tread, they could be dangerous on the sand. If you plan on making a sport of dune riding, it may be wise to invest in some upgraded tires made for dune riding. Look for thicker tires that have pliable rubber and a deep tread.
You may also find that lowering the PSI on your tires can allow you to travel easier over unpacked sand. The lower the PSI on your tires, the larger the tire’s footprint, which will prevent your truck from sinking into the sand. You should lower your tire’s air pressure to between 5 and 20 psi depending on how stiff the sand is. The softer the sand, the lower you want to go.
Since having your tire pressure this low is not recommended for road use, you will want to make sure that you reinflate your tires once you get back onto solid ground. If you fail to do this, you will have problems braking and could end up damaging a rim. If you don’t have a compressor available, make sure you drive onto the sand close to a gas station.
Know and Stay Within Your Limits
One of the most important things to consider before enjoying an off-roading sand adventure is what your car can do and not to push it beyond its limits. Front-wheel drive vehicles can be dangerous off-road and could get stuck in the sand. While rear-wheel drive vehicles fare better, four-wheel drive cars are the most ideal. Ideally, you would want a four-wheel drive vehicle with a low range that is also equipped with a locked center differential. You should also make sure that your vehicle has the proper ground clearance to prevent your transmission from overheating from trying to push a heavy vehicle through too much sand.
Stay Aware at All Times
When sand driving, staying aware at all times is the most important thing you can do to stay safe. You need to make sure that your vehicle is properly marked so that it can stay visible to other drivers who may be on the dunes. You also need to stay focused and watch out for smaller vehicles that may be less visible, such as ATVs and dirt bikes.
You should also be aware that dunes are constantly changing and the surface can shift rather quickly. This means dropoffs and large bumps may not be in the same place as you remember, so it’s always prudent to stay on the lookout for potential obstacles and hazards.