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Latest 4WD Trips & Techniques

View All: Trips | Techniques | Touring

So you’ve just pulled off the dirt onto a bitumen surface to drive on, but suddenly your 4wd refuses to go anywhere. You’ve played with the gears but the transmission is locked. Have you broken it? Well, maybe – but probably not. Most likely you’ve been caught by transmission wind-up.

Transmission wind-up is a pretty obscure problem, and not all vehicles are vulnerable to it. In fact it’s only going to affect you if you have a full-time 4wd vehicle with a diff lock.

A lot of modern 4wd vehicles come with an automatic gearbox, but the best of these also let you change gears manually – and there are still plenty of manual boxes out there, too. A lot of veteran off-roaders swear by a manual, because it gives you a lot more flexibility on really tough terrain. If you’re less experienced, though, you can get into a mess by choosing the wrong gear for the situation. Using a manual on the road is easy; in the bush it can be a bit more complicated.

You can’t really appreciate how good a properly functioning brake pedal feels until the day you press it and it just goes straight to the floor with no resistance. Unfortunately brake line failures aren’t as rare as we’d like them to be; off-road driving is pretty tough on vehicle systems, and your brake lines are no exception.

Brakes work through a sealed hydraulic system. The whole system is filled with fluid, and when you push the pedal more fluid is forced into it from a reservoir. That increases the pressure and operates the brake pads (or shoes, if you have drum brakes).