Driving on a beach is quite an enjoyable experience for sure. However, doing so needs preparation and caution as the whole experience can go terribly wrong by even one silly mistake. A lot of people like driving on the beaches and commit common mistakes while doing so. Here are ten such mistakes that can turn a great experience into a disaster.
Know your vehicle
First and foremost, one should know the capabilities and limitations of the vehicle one is driving. Driving in challenging conditions like on a beach without having proper knowledge of the vehicle means trouble for the vehicle. Several times, 4X4 vehicle owners 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 damage is already done and engaging 4×4 will give little help.
Parking near the shoreline
This is a blunder of sorts. Parking your vehicle very near the shoreline is not a good idea as the vehicle can get stuck for bad. Beaches with dry and hard sand may seem apt for parking the vehicle but the surface under may not support the vehicle’s weight. Further, incoming waves take away a large amount of sand with them and 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
If you have followed the above step and parked the vehicle a bit far from the shoreline, then also you need to keep a tab on the tide timings. When tides come in, the water level rises very quickly and can quickly bring the water near the vehicle which in the worst case 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.
Know the beach
One may think that if they know how to drive on a certain beach, they’ve got it all. While that is true to some extent, this does not mean that one can conquer all other beaches too. This is because the beach sand from different areas has different properties. Some of the beaches have hard sand which is well settled to form a good base and hence where heavy vehicles can move on it. On the contrary, many beaches have loose sand where the car can sink and get stuck. It is important to know the type of beach before you take your car on it.
There are several beaches which are deemed safe for driving too. Muzhappilangad beach in Kerala, for example, 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 you don’t find any driving related marking on a beach, it is always better to check with the locals or cops first about if driving is allowed there.
The heavier the vehicle, the more chances it has of sinking in the beach. If your vehicle is carrying too much weight, it leads to 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.
Not being prepared
This one is from the old handbooks. Whenever you are venturing on any surface other than regular tarmac, always prepare for the worst. It may seem like a good day on a good beach with hard settled sand but any unforeseen event can happen there. If the beach is secluded and your vehicle gets stuck, that means a lot of 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.
Let the salt water rest on the body
It is a well-known fact that seawater is extremely corrosive. What one might not know is how bad it can be for your car’s body paint. Seawater can even rust the body quickly and leave marks on the vehicle’s body. Therefore, 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 you don’t want to take your car to a professional car washing centre or something like that is not available nearby, make sure to wash the car at home with a couple of water buckets or a long hose.
Entering deep water
While it is quite fun to go all splashing in the sea, the result of this could often turn out to be unpleasant. Venturing deep into the sea water is dangerous because the surface underwater may have ditches or soft spots that can turn your vehicle upside down if you hit it at high speed. Therefore, it is always better to not take your vehicle deep in the water.
Lower the air pressure
This one again is an old trick to increase the traction when driving on sandy terrains. Lowering the tyre pressure of the vehicle helps a lot in such conditions as it increases the area of contact of the tire with the ground. 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.