Essential steps to take after every off-road beach trip

Sand and salt can damage your 4WD vehicle, so make sure you clean it well.

Once you’ve enjoyed a long drive along one of the many beautiful Australian beaches that allow four-wheel driving, it’s important to thoroughly rid your vehicle of sand and salt. If left there, salt and sand on the engine and undercarriage can cause rust and abrasion, seriously impeding your four-wheel drive’s longevity and performance.

Use a hose without an attachment to thoroughly clean the vehicle’s undercarriage. The gentle flow of water should carry all the particles away. A product like Salt-Away will also help to remove the salt.

While some people suggest doing so, it is not necessary to use a high pressure hose. The force of the water can push debris into cracks and crevices, making it harder to clean thoroughly. You might also blast away the protective coating on parts such as suspension arms.

Don’t wait until you get home to clean, if possible. It’s best to do it as soon as you’re off the sand. While it can be hard to do a full under-body wash while still on the road, you should at least try to hose off as much as you can.

Alternatively, try a car wash at a service station, as long as it includes an undercarriage wash. While they’re not thorough enough to do the job fully, a car wash is a good interim step before you can do a complete wash at home. Similarly, driving through a creek or stream will not give your four-wheel drive the thorough clean it needs after the beach.

A little preparation before a trip will also make the clean up easier. Many outdoors-enthusiasts suggest coating all engine and undercarriage components with a product such as lanolin before going near the beach. As well as providing protection from rust, these products help stop sand, salt and water getting into electrical equipment, the motor and pumps.