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How to Drive on Sand Without Getting Bogged

For 4x4 enthusiasts, getting bogged on sand is an initiation into the wonderful world of off-roading. If you’ve ever driven down a beach with heaps of other vehicles, you’ll likely see at least one 4WD which has been bogged, and another party trying to help them recover. Getting bogged on sand can be quite dangerous if there’s nobody around to help either. If you’re below the high-tide mark and you’re unable to recover in time, you may have to watch helplessly as your 4WD is swept out to sea! On a brighter note, driving along the beach is a fantastic experience and is just one of many aspects to off-roading which we all hold dearly. Travelling to untouched locations is an amazing feeling, but being thoroughly prepared is truly essential.

Whether you're a beginner or a professional 4WDer, we're all in a continual state of learning so today we'll be offering some insight and providing some tips on how to drive on sand without getting bogged.

Before you start

Before you hit any sand, it’s paramount that you deflate your tyres sufficiently to increase the length of your tyre’s tread patterns which distributes the weight of your vehicle over a larger surface area. This allows your heavy vehicle to be able to drive in soft sand. While some folks tend to believe that deflating their tyres until they’re ‘bagging out’ in the sidewalls is sufficient, unfortunately this is an unreliable indicator. It’s paramount that you are precise with your tyre pressure, so bringing a tyre pressure gauge is always recommended.

The usual tyre pressure for driving on sand is between 16 and 18psi, but it’s critical to keep in mind the weight of your cargo. If you're operating a hefty load, you might wish to reduce the pressure to around 14psi, but if you're travelling light, you can most likely get away with 20psi.


While deflating your tyres sufficiently is imperative when driving on sand, so is your driving technique. Maintaining momentum is the key to not getting bogged, and there’s a couple of factors to keep in mind. Firstly, sand significantly diminishes the power of your vehicle which highlights the importance of momentum. This is obviously easier in automatic 4WD’s than it is with manuals. With manual vehicles, you should always keep the revs slightly higher than normal to give you some extra power if you hit a soft patch. In terms of gear selection, there’s no strict guidelines considering that the type of sand makes a notable difference, however it’s always best to keep your 4WD in low range.

What to do if you get bogged?

There’s definitely an art to recovery if you get bogged and there’s no help around. Firstly, you don’t want to be reckless and try to force your way out; this will only put you in a worse position. Carrying beadlocks with you is a wise investment because it makes the job a lot easier. Beadlocks is a device which lock the tyre’s bead onto the rim of the wheel. If you get bogged in soft, powdery sand, reduce your tyre pressure until you get some traction. In most cases, reducing your tyres to 8psi without beadlocks and 5psi with beadlocks should give you enough traction to get out. In any case, practice makes perfect when it comes to getting bogged on sand, so the more experience you have, the better you’ll be at getting out!

Always remember that when lowering your tyre pressure to this level, your vehicle's handling is drastically altered, so you need to be very prudent about any cornering not only to keep your vehicle upright, but to ensure your tyres stays on their rims! Also be aware that once the ground gets firm again, don’t forget to inflate your tyres. Many accidents have been caused from people simply forgetting to inflate their tyres after driving in sand.

Additional tips

  • Be careful when turning
  • Be gentle on the brakes
  • Always drive above the high-tide mark so your 4WD doesn't get swallowed if you get bogged
  • Always use indicators if there are other vehicles on the beach
  • Always bring a tyre gauge and never attempt to guess tyre pressure
  • Always bring a snatch strap and long-handled shovel
  • Always bring an air-compressor to inflate tyres when you hit the bitumen
  • Consider buying a UHF radio so you can ask for help
  • Look into purchasing beadlocks for when there's no help around

There's no question that driving along the beach is an experience we should all enjoy, but precaution must always be taken to ensure that you and everybody else on the beach stays safe. If you're going to drive on sand, always be adequately prepared and use plenty of common sense. If you need any 4WD products or accessories to make your next adventure more gratifying, TJM Australia have you covered with an enormous range of 4WD and camping accessories. For more details, phone their staff on 07 3865 9999.

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