Buying the Incorrect Vehicle
It might seem like a pretty extreme example, but you'd be surprised how many first time buyers get the wrong vehicle. Particularly if they have a long list of modifications they need to make.
Usually, these people will try to convert a base-model ute into a soft-riding wagon, or do the opposite and try and turn a soft-riding wagon into a bush-conquering machine.
While there is always some degree of modification, it should never break the bank. Before you make your purchase, make sure you consider what you are going to be using it for.
From the Vehicle to Accessories
Similar to buying an incorrect vehicle, the number of people who buy incorrect accessories will astound you. Some people prefer to carry high-lift jacks, despite the fact that most 4WDs will be able to sustain some damage if a high-lift jack is used near their body panels.
A high-lift will work effectively and safely only if the front, rear and side bars include an inbuilt socket for attachments. This is a typical example of purchasing the wrong accessory. Others include: winches on cars that never go off road; mud-pattern tyres on 4WDs that spend almost all their time in the suburbs; high suspension lifts that compromise on-road handling and heavy roof racks that are difficult to remove while not being used.
Packing Way Too Much
People who over-pack their vehicle will often blame the vehicle, tyres and suspension, rather than themselves, for not being able to perform the task required. They then go and buy a much bigger, heavier 4WD think that will solve their problem and guess what?! They have the same problems - just in a different vehicle!
The priorities for any bush bashing trips are water, food, fuel and shelter. If you have a family of four or five going on a camping trip, it's unlikely you are going to fit everything you need into a 4WD; you'll probably need a trailer.
Too Much Too Soon
Common sense can sometimes be overlooked for enthusiasm. For instance, the middle of the outback probably isn't the best time to discover that only one member of your family actually enjoys 4WD travel.
If you are going to get into the 4WD scene, be sure not to spend a small fortune on accessories and modifications before you've done a few short bush trips to see if you actually enjoy it. Joining a 4WD club and going on some weekend outings with them will give you an indication if this is for you or not.
During these trips you will be able to learn what your family and vehicle needs as you go along, rather than spend a significant amount of time and money in the interim.
Not Doing a 4WD Course
So, you've got your 4WD all ready to go and, naturally, you want to get out there and get amongst it. Hold your horses! Can we suggest that before you head off anywhere, or spend oodles of money on a heap of accessories, you sign up for a 4WD course with an accredited teacher? Furthermore, if you plan on towing a camper trailer or off-road caravan, ensure you a course on that as well.
These training courses will teach you how to set tyre pressures as well as deal with flats; how to judge the performance of your vehicle; how to correctly pack your roof rack; how to assess tracks; how to drive in different terrain; how to prepare for deep river crossings; bogging recovery, and some tips on modifications and accessories.