We all want our 4WDs to perform better offroad and there are a lot of things that can be done to help make that happen. Here are our Top 5 with a bonus one at the end!

Tyres

Tyres are what connect us to the ground so logically they are one of the most important aspects to getting further offroad. A good offroad tyre is going to provide traction in even the harshest of environments, when you lose traction you lose forward motion and that often results in you being “stuck”. Realistically, we could do an entire post on just how to choose the right tyre for you but here is a rough guide;

All Terrain - If you spend most of your time on the road with a small amount of time heading to the beach, driving on gravel roads or heading to campsites these are probably going to be the class of tyre for you.

Rugged Terrain - These are a newer class on the market but they are great for those that want to do a lot of touring into remote parts of Australia. They tend to offer good on and offroad performance and work well on beach, rock, and sand. Rugged terrain tyres also tend to offer much better clearing capabilities in the tread so will perform better than All terrains in the mud.

Mud Terrain - Mud terrain tyres used to be the go to for most offroaders but now tend to be the focus mainly for those that do hardcore touring or competitions. They tend to be noisy, have a shorter life, due to softer rubber and can be pretty average on the road in wet conditions.

There are a lot of other things to consider with tyres too, like size, construction and brands. But undoubtedly if you move from a factory tyre to something aftermarket, you will help the vehicles offroad performance.

Suspension lift

Suspension lifts have a number of impacts on the vehicle, most of them good, but like everything, they do have some downsides. A good quality suspension lift will not only change the ride height of your 4WD but will also help improve wheel travel and articulation. These improvements mean that it is easier to keep your tyres on the ground and therefore keep traction. The added benefit is that you also gain additional clearance to fit larger wheels and tyres.

The downsides of a suspension lift most commonly occur when a lift is not correctly spec’d for how you are going to be using the vehicle.
A lift increases your centre of gravity and therefore increases the chance of rolling over.
It can add additional stress to components of your vehicle if they are not also upgraded or set up to deal with that amount of additional travel. The most common one is that it increases the chance of breaking a CV joint or the like.

Barwork

Now this one might be considered controversial but we all agree that is an important part of helping offroad performance for a number of reasons, other than aesthetics. The biggest advantage to adding barwork to a lot of vehicles is that it will substantially improve your approach and departure angles. This means that you can get in and out of tight spots with greater ease.

The second advantage is that they add a level of protection to your vehicle that helps you avoid panel damage and other substantial more expensive repairs. This obviously saves you money in the long run but it also gives you a little bit of additional confidence that you can drive some tougher tracks without. This confidence, as long as it is kept in check, can help you and your vehicle drive better lines and get through tougher obstacles.

Lockers

Diff locks offer massive performance upgrades for your vehicle offroad. As we have mentioned earlier, traction is one of the key components to getting places in a 4WD and dif locks can massively help. What you may or may not know about your 4 wheel drive is that as soon as one of your wheels has less traction than the others, your vehicle is no longer 4WD. Because of how a diff works (below is an in-depth video if you haven't looked into it before) as soon as one wheel loses traction, all the power is pushed to that wheel. All of a sudden you have a 1 wheel drive and it is the one wheel that is up in the air.

When a diff lock is installed and active it will ensure that power is pushed evenly to both wheels connected to that diff. So even if one is up in the air the other will still have traction and power ensuring you can continue your forward momentum.

Snorkel

A snorkel (or raised air intake) offers 4WDs a massive number of advantages. They are most well known for allowing you to ford deep water and keep water out of your airbox. What they are less known for is increasing fuel economy and improving performance.

A snorkel, particularly one with an air-ram head, like the Safari Snorkels, helps the engine to get cleaner, cooler air and a lot more of it. This additional cool air means that your engine runs cooler and when your engine runs cooler you get better performance.

In the offroad capacity, the higher intake also means that you are less likely to fill your air filter with dirt and dust and even when not moving at speed you will be able to get cooler air to the engine than if you had the intake in the engine bay like many 4WDs do.

Training

Honestly, the biggest thing that impacts offroad performance is your capability and knowledge of your vehicle and how to deal with the terrain around you. We see it all the time where an experienced driver in a stock vehicle can take their 4WD just as far, if not further than someone that has all the gear but never spent much time getting to know it.

Whether you are new to 4WDing, just getting back into it or have been doing it for years, there is always going to be something to learn from a good driver training course.

Let us know in the comments below if you think there is anything we have missed or something you want more detail on. Alternatively, use the contact us page to get in touch and ask some questions of our experienced staff.

Snorkel

A snorkel (or raised air intake) offers 4WDs a massive number of advantages. They are most well known for allowing you to ford deep water and keep water out of your airbox. What they are less known for is increasing fuel economy and improving performance.

A snorkel, particularly one with an air-ram head, like the Safari Snorkels, helps the engine get cleaner, cooler air and a lot more of it. This additional cool air means that your engine runs cooler and when your engine runs cooler you get better performance. Some of the newest snorkels on the market can actually offer your engine up to 70% more air, this is a massive improvement over the factory air intake.

So a snorkel really is a big win for performance on and off-road.

Exhaust

On the other end of the engine, there is the air going out, more commonly known as the exhaust. The aim of putting on an aftermarket exhaust is to allow the exhaust to flow more freely. With the exhaust gases able to escape the engine faster it keeps the temperatures cooler and puts less back pressure on the motor.

When you add an aftermarket exhaust, usually larger in diameter, you are also able to change or modify the resonator and muffler allowing you to further improve the flow and to also change the sound of the vehicle.

There are a range of brands on the market for exhaust, everything from cheap imports through to top-quality Aussie made products. The best solutions will offer 4 bolt flanges, factory style O-rings and pretty much outlast your 4WD.

Torque lockup kit

The torque converter lockup kit is only going to work on certain vehicles at this point, you need to have an auto and most kits are focused on the Toyota range.

A torque converter essentially performs a similar function to the clutch in a manual gearbox. For a more detailed explanation, you should check out the video by XploringOz.

When the torque converter lockup kit is activated it essentially locks the driveline and transmission together, this helps the performance as you substantially reduce the loss of power. This leads to a number of benefits, including lower transmission temperatures, improved fuel economy and longevity of your transmission. It also as the added bonus of allow you to engine break, which is great for towing heavy loads down steep declines.

Throttle Controller

A throttle controller is a somewhat controversial “performance” modification. The controller in itself does not give you more power or any additional performance. What it does do however is to improve the responsiveness or control of the throttle.

In your factory vehicle, you can plant your foot to the floor and the ECU will “slowly” open the throttle body on the engine. When you have a throttle controller installed that “slowly” can turn into an almost immediate opening of the throttle. It can also do the opposite, if you are traditionally lead-footed, you might be able to improve your fuel economy by slowing down that responsiveness and having the throttle work slower, therefore less hard acceleration which means less fuel.

One important factor to check when doing something like a throttle controller is to ensure that it leaves all the factor warning and fault codes in place. You want to ensure you still have all these in place to ensure you don't accidentally do any damage.

ECU Tuning/Remapping

ECU tuning can come in a number of forms. You can look at total ECU replacements, you can look at remapping to a “preset” or you can look to get custom maps created.

With modern vehicles, pretty much the whole vehicle is controlled by the ECU meaning that you can vary everything from the fuel:air ratio through to turbo boost and other seemingly small things like when fans kick in. All of these changes can help customise the vehicle to how you drive and help you get better performance out of the vehicle. Even remapping a basic vehicle can be beneficial. From factory engines are tuned to ensure they meet global conditions, this means that they need to allow for a lot of variations in things like ambient temperature, altitude and

We would usually recommend that an ECU tune is the last stage of a vehicle build as every aftermarket part that you put on will change how the ECU should be mapped. In some cases, this can go down to a brand level. For example, a 3-inch exhaust by one company will perform differently and may have a slight variation in the mapping to another company.

There are of course numerous other performance upgrades available but these are just some of the core ones that we help people with on an almost daily basis.
If you have more questions for the team, please feel free to reach out.

Heading out camping or for a trip away almost always means forgetting something that either would have been really useful - because you needed it - or bringing something that you would have never needed and you have no idea why you lugged it all that way.

Western 4WDer have been the leading WA publication on offroad trips for years and have plenty of experience with getting prepared to hit the road.

They have also in the past made an awesome checklist to make sure you keep your packing to a minimum but don't forget the important things.

Now, this checklist is pretty extensive and you probably won't need everything for a weekend away but we invite you to use it and modify it for your needs.

Download Now

Top Tips to help your fridge perform

These days, knowing how to get the most out of your 12V fridge is pretty much the equivalent of everyone having their own slightly different way to scale a fish, bake banana bread or put vegemite on toast.

We thought it would be a great opportunity to share some of our tips and tricks to getting the most out of your 12v Fridge.

1) Ensure consistent and reliable power

12v fridges, while designed to draw as little power as possible still have moments when they require a healthy draw. Some people have even measured pull of up to 50amps on startup in hot weather.

We often see people that are not getting peak performance out of their fridge because they haven't run cable that isn't designed to take the load or they are experiencing substantial voltage drop between the battery and fridge.

When planning where your fridge and 2nd battery are going to live, try and get them as close together as possible. The rule of thumb for fridges is 8 B&S cable up to 5m and 6 B&S after that. Additionally using connectors such as Anderson plugs will give you a much more stable connection than a traditional cigarette plug.

Lithium Battery with Intervolt Charger
Lithium provides an amazingly lightweight and stable 12v solution

2) Pre cool your fridge and food

Not something that you can always achieve, but ensuring that your supplies and the fridge are cooled prior to going in the vehicle can make the world of difference. An average 40L fridge will average around 1-1.5 Amps per hour when in a state of holding temperature. However when it is running full bore to get the temperature down it can easily increase that to 4 - 6 Amps essentially meaning that you will lose 3 hours of “holding temperature” for every hour of cooling.

3) Fill the Space

Fridges work most effectively when they have items in the fridge to fill the space - air is a terrible thermal conductor. If you run an 80L fridge but you are only going away overnight, throw in some crumpled newspaper, extra drinks or some frozen water bottles.

As an added bonus, Frozen water bottles or freezer bricks are going to help keep your fridge colder even longer.

4) Use the basket

We know it is pesky, takes up space and often makes things more complicated, but having the basket in the fridge allows cool air to circulate throughout the fridge with greater ease. This ensures that all your items are cooled evenly but it also means that the fridge is not running more than it has to. The internal temperature reading is usually just from a simple point in the fridge.

5) Keep it in the shade and let it breathe

It might seem pretty self-explanatory but we see a massive number of people that will leave their fridge in the vehicle, with no space around the compressor and expect it to perform. Most fridges are comfortable lowering the temperature around 30 degrees from the ambient temperature. If the ambient temperature is 40 degrees it means your fridge will be sitting around 10.

Products like solar shades can be a great option to help keep your vehicle cool

A Fridge compressor is also going to perform best when it is cool and has ventilation, so ensure that you have space around the compressor for airflow.

There are plenty of other common-sense things to do that will also help in their own way like;

Midland 4WD Centre © 2021