28th January, 2015

Dear ARB, 

I am awaiting delivery of my first 4×4. It’s a VX Prado 3.0D – I can’t wait and I am looking forward to exploring some remote places that I have never been able to access before.

What modifications and accessories should I purchase for safe four wheel driving? Can you recommend some interesting destinations around Victoria? I am only interested in easy to moderate tracks because I would like to look after my investment as much as possible.

– James 

Hi James,

Setting up your vehicle for safe travelling really depends on the destination and how you want to travel. As Victoria is your first choice, you are lucky to have some of the best mountainous areas in the country at your doorstep that cater for everything from pleasant touring-style driving for the beginner to steep rocky tracks and river crossings that will challenge even the most experienced drivers. Historic destinations such as the old mining towns of Walhalla and Woods Point are a great step off point into the High Country that can be explored in a day, weekend or a week, depending on how much time you have.

The VX Prado is one of the more capable vehicles on the market today, packed with safety features such as ABS and Traction Control that will see you climbing tracks you never dreamed of in no time at all. But there are quite a few accessories you can add that will make travelling to the High Country even safer.

Water crossings are something you’ll find even on the easy to moderate tracks, especially after heavy rains. If you plan to be fording a few of these, then you can’t go past fitting a Safari Snorkel to protect your diesel engine from water intake and possible damage. A snorkel raises your air intake well above the fordable depth of your vehicle, reducing not only the chances of water ingress but also a lot of the dust that accumulates in and around the standard air intake. If you find yourself travelling in convoy through the High Country in summer, you’ll soon learn about the choking dust and how quickly it can clog your air filter.

Steep tracks mean steep descents, and if your vehicle is packed roof-high in the back with cooking, sleeping and camping gear, then it won’t be long before something comes loose on a downhill run and finds itself in the front seat. Worse still, it could hit you in the back of the head, causing injury or accident. This is when a cargo barrier is an invaluable safety item and can also make packing easier. A good cargo barrier complies with the Australian/ New Zealand Standard AS4034, is vehicle specific and designed to remain intact when impacted by a single mass load of no less than 60kg at a force experienced in a 48kph frontal crash. That’s an impact of a whopping 1200kg. With a barrier fitted, you can spend more time looking at the track and scenery and not the rear vision mirror.

A bull bar and driving lights are among the first accessories 4WDers purchase to help protect their investment. Late Friday night getaways into the High Country are common, and a decent set of driving lights will help you avoid the many breeds of wildlife found on Victorian country roads at night. If you are unable to avoid an animal strike, having a bull bar fitted can give you the peace of mind that you and your vehicle are protected.

Of course, the list of accessories to start off can include many more items such as winches and recovery gear, suspension upgrades and roof racks, dual batteries and fridges etc, but it’s best to get out there and get a feel for your vehicle and the type of touring and 4WDing that suits you and your family before choosing the accessories that best suit your needs.

Mark Lowry
Manager Product Development & Evaluation