Tips for a Safe Hawaii Four Wheel Adventure
4 Wheeling Hawaii's Off Road
Four wheeling in Hawaii is a thrilling land adventure and a terrific way to see rare, native, and
distinctive aspects of the islands. While the journey is bound to be exhilarating, it's important to
make it uneventful by managing the challenges of off-roading.
Before You Go
- Let someone know you're off to a 4 wheel adventure, including where you're going and
your expected return time. That way if you don't return somebody knows to come looking for
- Have some emergency items on-hand including: phone number of tow companies, cell
phone, food and water and maps. If you can swing it, it would also be nice to have: tire
pressure gauge, portable GPS, and a shovel.
- Make sure you know how your 4WD works. Make sure to return to regular mode when back
on paved roads.
- Get information about the tides if you'll be driving on the beach. Ideally, a safe beach drive
is three hours before or after low tide.
- Know where the spare tire and jack are located.
- Familiarize yourself with the dimensions of the vehicle so you have an idea to get through
Before getting on the road, make sure you know the way a 4WD works. Use the transfer case
lever or the four wheel drive push button on the dashboard. Make sure, too, to return to regular
mode when back on paved roads.
Know before you go and get information about the tides. Ideally, a safe beach drive is three
hours before or after low tide. Stay alert and drive slowly at first. It is important to stay attentive
while on a joy ride. The smallest detail, such as wrapping fingers tightly around the steering
wheel can affect the front wheels - the steering wheel can actually be sensitive to the pressure
and as the steering wheel spins, its speed can hurt fingers and thumbs.
Know where the spare tire and jack are located as well as the dimensions of the 4WD so you
have an idea to get through some areas.
Driving on the beach is certain to be an experience, but before venturing onto the sand, keep in
mind that in four wheeling, it's all about the tires and wheels. The bigger the tires and rims, the
better the chances for stability. Lighter cars and trucks will perform better. Tires of lesser quality
can actually be noisy.
While the opposite applies to driving on paved roads, it is critical to lower tire pressure. Check
with a gauge and make sure not to let loose too much air. As a rule, 4WD truck tires are steady at
18 psi, but use this as a guideline, and make sure to re-inflate when the four wheeling fun is over.
Avoiding ruts while four wheeling can be challenging so, if possible, drive with just one tire in
the rut and the other outside of it for better control of the path.
Periodically, keep an eye on all the features on the dashboard, especially the temperature gauge.
Balance is key for keeping the transmission running properly. Try to drive proactively - looking
ahead for obstacles and surprises. Try to be prepared for what's around the bend!
Driving to avoid a rollover requires patience, attention, and discipline, so when driving on hills,
stay on route and try not to turn diagonally or at an angle. Never turn around on a hill; instead,
reverse and drive slowly back in that direction.
While driving on the sand, stay in low gear so any correction is quicker and easier than when in
high gear. Also, once you're in a rut of any kind, slow down, stop and reverse slowly. Still,
getting stuck beyond small incidences can require patience and staying calm. Start by clearing
sand from the tires. It may take more than that and a shovel may not be readily available, so call
a tow company to take you to a main (paved) road before contacting the rental company.
Driving in water areas along the beach seems cool and almost movie-like, but it can be unsafe.
Water and electric car parts don't mix.
After The Ride
If you get stuck and cannot find a cell phone signal to reach the towing company, leave a note,
prominently displayed, explaining the direction you're walking and the date and time.
Mud on the tires is an inevitability. When washing off the mud, wait until the car has completely
cooled, preferably in the shade. Hose or spray thoroughly and then make sure to check the 4WD
for any spots that were overlooked and check for damage.
It seems like a lot of information to consider, but a little preparation and knowledge can make the
trip memorable, for the right reasons. Four wheeling is fun on the islands and you'll undoubtedly
see places less traveled by most tourists, so it's definitely worth the trip.
Be sure to check the low rates available through SummitPacific on Car Rentals in Hawaii
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