, ,

The Big Haul

THE BIG HAUL

Heading bush with a camper or caravan this year? These are six mods you don’t want to miss out on

Winter is here, and while the sorry sods might complain about the end of local beach camping, the more adventurous are hitching their campers or caravans, loading up the 4WD and chasing the heat. It’s the perfect time to head to the tropical north now the wet season is receding, and an even better time to head to the red centre without having to fight 50 million flies for the best campsite. While it’s easy to get excited, flip the boss off and head off on an Aussie adventure, there’s a few must have towing mods we recommend every 4WDer has. Not the usual ‘make sure you have a fridge for your beer’ sort of nonsense either. Fair dinkum, get you there and back sort of stuff. It’s not the definitive how-to-build-a-tourer list either and most off-roaders know the little tricks and comforts they want out bush, but if you’re planning on hitching on a caravan or camper this winter this list of must-have mods should be on your shopping list.

Knock off or passenger construction tyres simply aren’t able to cope with the stress of serious off-roading or towing weights

More power This one should be an absolute no-brainer for most tow-tugs, and something we try to educate people on all the time. 4WDs have the right amount of power to shuffle themselves around the daily grind with ease, they also normally weigh around the 2-3,000kg mark. When you start adding touring kit like bullbars and drawers, then hitching up even some of the lighter campers and caravans on the market they can quickly double in weight. That means drastically reduced performance making the engine work harder, use more fuel, and make previously simple tasks like joining flowing traffic or overtaking dangerous. By adding more power and torque to your 4WD through ECU re-mapping you’re able to claw back some of that lost performance. The result is a vehicle that performs how the manufacturer intended it to even when it’s loaded to the gills.

Gauges – 20 years ago the gauges in your 4WD told you actual useful information like oil pressures, turbo boost, and exact alternator output. Now, as engines and gearboxes are getting more and more highly strung most of these useful gauges are being replaced by warning lights that don’t tell you anything until it’s too late. One of the first modifications we’ll make to a customer’s 4WD when they’re planning on towing or travelling through difficult terrain like sandy desert or isolated back roads are an accurate set of gauges. They’re not just there to look fancy on the dash, but can give you a heads up your 4WD is having a hard time with enough time to catch it before it causes serious damage. For a few hours in the workshop it’s a hell of an insurance policy.

Some 4WDs can cope with the extra weight when towing, but many more will flog out the stock rear springs causing dangerous handling

Tip-top cooling system – Manufacturers love cutting cost, and weight. One of the ways they do this is by fitting cooling systems just big enough to do the job. They work fine in standard conditions, but if you’re hauling a 25ft caravan across the Savannah way, or dragging a lightweight aluminium camper across the Simpson desert you’ll be pushing the stock cooling system to its limits. In some 4WDs upgraded radiators or intercoolers are an option, but all 4WDs will benefit by a set of qualified eyes over your cooling system before heading off on any remote touring expedition or just hitching up the camper for a run up and down the coast. When you factor in how expensive replacing a blown head gasket can be routine check-overs fall into the smart money category.

Heavy-duty suspension – Towing serious loads, adds serious weight into your 4WD, and not in the way you might think. Unless you carry all your gear in the trailer with the back of your 4WD or ute empty, chances are you’re already fairly loaded up in the rear. Some leaf sprung utes are designed to cope with a bit of extra weight, but most coil sprung wagons are tuned more for ride comfort than load carrying ability. Throw a camper or caravan into the mix and you start looking at another 100-250kg+ of weight all sitting on the tow bar, the longer your rear overhang the more leverage it’ll have on the stock suspension too. The end result is your 4WD sitting nose into the air giving you vague steering, flogging out the rear suspension, and making your 4WD unpredictable in emergency situations. Most 4WDs will benefit from a mild lift anyway, so why not let us throw in a set of properly rated rear springs in while we’re at it to suit your trailer.

Free-flowing exhausts can help drop exhaust gas temperatures on long climbs allowing you to tackle hills faster and harder than a stock setup

Rated wheels and tyres – We’ve spoken before about the dangers of using cheap gear and don’t want to beat a dead horse, but there’s more to it than you realise. The market is flooded with knock off or cheap wheels and tyres at the moment, especially targeting people in the dual cab ute market. They look the goods, and often rip their designs off well known products, but more often than not they’re barely strong enough to hold up to a stock 4WD, let alone a fully loaded one in off-road conditions. The wheels can fatigue and crack, and the tyres can de-laminate and literally tear themselves to shreds. If you’re finding tyres half the price of some of the big-name brands you’ve gotta ask yourself why, and believe me, I’ve seen more Ferrari’s in cheap tyre shops than good ones.

Driving lights Like it or not, when you’re on the road eating up the kays you’ll inevitably end up pushing on into the night trying to make good time. If you’re doing all your touring within the confines of the CBD it won’t be a big deal, but head out to where the streetlights get sparse and the possibility of an animal strike goes up immensely. A bull bar is always a great idea to help protect the front end of your 4WD, but not hitting skippy in the first place is even better. We exclusively use Baja Designs LED lighting at Roo, finding it pushes further, with less of a harsh light than the cheap gear. The result is you can see roo’s gathering on the side of the track with plenty of time to avoid them.

 

[]

Contact us now or call 1300 305 709 (Mon-Fri) and let us show you what we can do for your 4WD or contact one of our 65 nationwide dealers directly.
[/]