Beach driving can be an amazing experience, but it needs preparation and caution. One mistake, and the whole beach experience can turn upside down. What are the common mistakes that people make while driving on the beach? Here are ten such mistakes that can turn a great experience into a disaster.
Know the beach
The beach sand from different areas have different properties. There are many types of sand that are quite hard and well settled to form a good base where heavy things can move. On the other hand, there are many beaches where the car can sink and get stuck. It is important to know the type of beach before you take your car on it.
While your vehicle can get stuck in the sand, in most beaches, there are a few pre-designated beaches where you can drive your vehicle. Muzhappilangad beach in Kerala is one such beach where you can take your vehicle legally. It is the longest beach in Asia and it allows cars inside for a small entry fee. If the beach is not marked for driving, do check with the locals or cops first, if driving is allowed there.
Parking near the shoreline
This is one the biggest mistakes that most people make. It is quite possible that the dry beach is hard enough to support the weight of the vehicle but the surface under water is not. Also, when the waves come, it takes away a large amount of sand with it that can further sink your vehicle on the beach. Also parking the vehicle near water when it is idling can force the water to enter the exhaust muffler that can cause damage to the vehicle. Salty water is very corrosive and can reduce the life of the metallic parts of the vehicle.
Know the tides
When the tide comes in, the water level rises very quickly. Even if you have parked a little away from the shoreline, high tide can quickly bring the water near the vehicle and it can drown the car too. It is always better to check the tide timings first and also keep an eye on the shoreline all the time when you’re at the beach.
A heavy vehicle can sink quickly on the beach because heavy vehicles put high pressure on narrow tyres that can cause the car to sink. Always remove heavy items from the vehicle and if possible, drive with fewer people in the car.
Entering deep water
Yes, it can be fun and it produces some spectacular water splashes but venturing deep into the water can be extremely dangerous. Underwater surfaces may have ditches or soft spots that can turn your vehicle upside down if you hit it at high speed. Always steer clear of deep water and enjoy the area outside the shoreline as much as possible.
Not being prepared
Always prepare for the worst. Even though it may seem like a good beach to drive and the surface is hard enough, any unforeseen event can happen. If anything unexpected happens and the beach is secluded, you may get into deep trouble. If you go to an unknown beach, ensure that there is a rescue vehicle waiting for you. Travelling in a group also ensures that help is always at hand.
Be smart, not brute
Even if your vehicle gets stuck, accelerating the vehicle without thinking could make things worse. If the wheels are moving at one place, accelerating can make the vehicle dig deeper. It is always a good idea to change the direction of the front wheels and try slowly. The best way is to get an external force to push your vehicle out. The external force can be being towed by another vehicle or a few numbers of people pushing your vehicle, but it is the surest way of getting out of trouble.
Know your vehicle
It is important to know your vehicle and its limitations when driving in challenging conditions, such as driving on a beach. A lot of times, owners of 4X4 vehicles do not engage the AWD mode until they are stuck. It is imperative to engage the AWD mode before entering the beach to ensure that the car does not get stuck in the first place. Once the car is stuck, the chances are pretty slim that you will be able to rescue the car. Also, do not push the vehicle too much. Every car has its limitations and it is important to know that.
Lower the air pressure
To increase the traction, lowering the tyre pressure of the vehicle helps a lot. Lowering the pressure increases the contact area between the tyre and the surface. Larger surface means that the weight is dissipated to a larger area, which means less pressure on the surface. Lowering the pressure to up to 10-15 PSI increases the contact area by a large amount and the vehicle does not get stuck easily.
Let the salt water rest on the body
The sea water is extremely corrosive and can damage the paint and even rust the body quickly. Saltwater can leave marks on the vehicle’s body. It is important to get a professional to clean the car after a beach trip. A car coming out of the beach should be washed from every corner properly including the underbody. If there’s no professional car washing centre nearby, one can always do it at home with a couple of water buckets or a long hose.