Our All Four x 4 Spares Blog provides great information on the 4wd Industry in general. Please check back on a regular basis as we explore a range of issues that are important to our industry.
When you start towing bigger trailers like trailer boats or caravans, it's crucial that you can see them down the sides of your vehicle.
Suppose you're driving on the road with your van or trailer. In that case, you'd need to safely negotiate around corners and other vehicles, and you've got to see around the car in situations like when you're changing lanes.
When you've got a full-width caravan, 2.5 meters wide, you're probably not going to be able to do that with your vehicle's factory's existing mirrors.
Yes! In Australia, it is a legal (road and traffic) requirement to have caravan towing mirrors unless the vehicle used for towing has already been factory fitted with mirrors wider than the caravan and provides a clear view along the entire length of the caravan in tow.
You must be able to see along the whole length of the caravan at its widest point and a further 20 Meters behind it.
You can familiarise yourself with the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) national standards for vehicle safety here.
Among the most popular ones in the market, you'll find different types:
In this article, we'll go through these styles offered by three of the most popular brands of tow mirrors in Australia to choose which one will best suit your needs.
MSA 4x4 extended towing mirrors can be a terrific addition to many 4x4s as they provide a complete vision for the length of the trailer or caravan being towed.
MSA 4X4 has designed a brand-new range of towing mirrors that extend your field of vision past the trailer for towing/reversing or launching your boat at boat ramps whilst being unobtrusive for everyday driving.
MSA 4X4's product designers stated, "We think 'towing' mirrors is a restrictive description for an 'all-round driving and towing mirror' like ours. 'Towing mirrors' are great for towing but annoying when not required.
Whilst 4WDing on tracks when you're not towing the van, or merely parking at shopping centres and in garages, regular towing mirrors can be a burden."
The perfect design solution is an all-around driving and towing mirror.
These are mirrors designed for all-around driving and towing that, when not towing, still look proportionate to the size and styling of the vehicle.
The new MSA 4X4 Driving Mirrors feature a unique design with a large single mirror that pivots on an extremely heavy-duty extension slide, that allows the mirror to be returned to its normal "non-towing" position, to avoid the extended mirrors permanently protruding off the sides of the vehicle.
These mirrors feature four different mirror positions for any situation:
Here below the full vehicle list availability:
Ford Everest 2015 - Current
Ford Ranger 2012 - Current
Holden Colorado 2012 - Current
Holden Colorado 7 2012 - Current
Isuzu DMAX 2012 - Current
Isuzu MUX 2013 - Current
Grand Cherokee 2010 - Current
BT50 Sept 2020 - Current
Triton 2015 - Current
Pajero Sport 2015 - Current
Nissan Patrol Y62 2013 - Current
Nissan Navara D23 Nov 2020 - Current
Nissan Navara NP300 2015 - Oct 2020
Toyota Fortuner 2015 - Current
Toyota Hilux 2015 - Current
Toyota Landcruiser 200 Series 2007 - Current
Toyota Landcruiser Prado 150 Series - 2009 - Current
Toyota Landcruiser 70 - 79 Series 1984 - Current
Volkswagen Amarok 2009 - Current
You can check stock availability of MSA 4X4 Towing Mirrors HERE.
Clearview Towing Mirrors are full replacement towing mirrors that replace your vehicle's standard side mirrors.
Their innovative design includes two different surfaces.
Clearview Mirrors are substantially larger than standard side mirrors. In regular driving positions, they have a wider outwards reach of about 10cm, and a total surface area much greater than the standard models.
When you're ready to tow, you can slide them out an additional 10cm! A further extension that allows for around a total of 20cm of extension over standard side mirrors.
Clearview Mirrors are also designed to fold inwards or outwards towards the car manually, which can be handy in tight spaces like car parks.
Clearview Mirrors are injection moulded and made from diecast aluminium to deliver a solid and steady footing on every vehicle. Every Clearview Towing Mirror base is finished on a CNC milling machine for consistent accuracy and a perfect fit for every car.
They are also built with steel arms through the centre for maximum strength.
Clearview Mirrors Are Legal in all Australian States And Territories and have been tested and approved as ADR compliant.
Clearview recently introduced the latest new edition of next-generation mirrors with a series of features meant as improvements from the traditional models:
The next-gen features are as follows:
All Clearview mirrors come with an option of manual or electric operation of flat top glass, and additional options may vary depending on the make, model and year of the vehicle:
Clearview newest compact mirrors design brings a big vision on a compact size.
The Clearview Compact Mirrors integrate a smaller mirror frame with a single-lens glass to offer big vision.
The mirrors extend out when towing and slide back in for everyday driving.
Like all Clearview towing mirrors, the Clearview Compacts Mirrors are engineered specifically for each vehicle and feature the same functionality as your vehicle's original mirrors.
Here below the full vehicle list availability:
Clearview Towing Mirrors are available to fit various popular vehicle makes and models. New make and model varieties are also being announced all the time!
Here at All Four x 4 Spares we now stock Clearview Towing mirrors suitable for Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Toyota Land Cruiser 70 75 76 78 79 200 Series. Check the complete list HERE
Milenco has been a leading manufacturer of Clip-On Towing Mirrors for many years and has created award-winning mirrors such as the Aero Mirror design, which delivered solid stability at very high towing speeds.
In 2008 Milenco launched the Grand Aero Towing Mirror. The Grand Aero Mirror offers all the benefits of the original Aero Mirror, plus the maximum view possible, combined with very high stability.
The Aero 3 range includes the Aero Extra Wide Mirrors and Grand Aero Extra Wide Mirrors, which are the same as the Aero 3 Mirrors and the Grand Aero 3 Mirrors, except for having longer arms for wider caravans, RVs or travel trailers, the Extra Wide Mirrors are only available in convex.
The extension arms for the Extra Wide range are 41cm compared to the Aero standard arm of 31cm.
Milenco offers a wide range of towing mirrors for your towing needs and can be easily fitted to any small and large cars, 4x4 or vans at a reasonable price. You can check them out HERE.
If you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced sales team, and they will guide you towards choosing the right product for your needs.
Do you have any questions about Towing Mirrors? Post them in the comments!
Originally planned as a five-week trip (although recent heavy rainfall and flooding affected road access to the Desert earlier this year, delaying the adventure for a few weeks), this great adventure will be first aired on Channel 10 in the new season of The Offroad Adventure Show.
Mad Matt has already been documenting his journey to the Desert, travelling through NSW, South Australia and Northern Territory and stopping in must stop destinations like Broken Hill, Coober Pedy, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and was the first vehicle to drive through the Simpson Desert this year after the reopening.
Our workshop guys checked and prepared the 79 Series Landcruiser installing a long list of upgrades to get the vehicle ready and comfy for a worry-free big trip.
We will add each step of the adventure to this post as they get created; therefore, stay tuned (also All Four x 4 Spares and Mad Matt's Facebook and Instagram pages) to follow up on each adventure step!
These are all the great upgrades installed on the 79 series by our workshop guys for a worry-free big trip!
Check Tasman and Mad Matt in this video running through them!
The Simpson Desert reopened in Mid-March, as roads re-opened to four-wheel drive traffic at Munga-Thirri-Simpson Desert and Witjira national parks, after heavy rainfall and flooding affected road access earlier this year.
And MadMatt 4wd was the first to cross it this season in our 79 Series Landcruiser!!
Tasman from All Four x 4 Spares spoke to him via sat phone on his way to the desert to capture what he is seeing from this incredible adventure.
Rooftop tents are the perfect addition to your camping setup since they can:
But with so many types and brands of rooftop tents currently available in the market, how do you know which one would suit your camping needs?
This post will cover a few critical aspects of Rooftop tents and an overview of their types, functionalities and specifications, with a special mention of the most common brands on the market, precisely CampBoss 4x4, Darche, Ironman 4x4.
First of all, let's analyse rooftop tents' pros and cons more in detail and how they compare to standard camping gear alternatives.
The more popular types of rooftop tents:
Usually the cheapest option, they fundamentally look like standard tents placed on top of your vehicle.
These tents are also lightweight, with potential room capacity for fitting small families. However, they are the slowest option to set up and pack up compared to other types.
Especially when packing it up, you may have to walk around the car folding all overhanging bits in and then try to wrestle the protective cover over the top. On the other hand, families appreciate these tents due to the smaller cost and extra room that optional annexes can create.
Examples from the best soft shell roof top tents brands in the market:
If you love a quick weekend escape or an extended driving holiday without complicated setup times, the Hi-View Series Roof Top Tent is perfect for your next open road adventure.
This versatile workhorse will be your home away from home. Bush, beach or desert, you'll be tucked up high and safely away from the crocs and critters in minutes, with the simple set up and pack down design. Just fold out your RTT, drop the telescopic ladder and enjoy the starry night views as you drift off.
Built tough for the rugged Australian landscape, the Hi-View RTT can handle whatever you can throw at it - wind, rain, and the harsh Australian sun are no bother for this little gem. Designed for maximum ventilation, the extra-large zippered mesh windows on both sides provide exceptional airflow in warm weather without compromising on storm and sun protection. The adjustable fly and built-in air vents will see you through the rainy weather, preventing condensation and providing even more airflow. At the same time, the gusseted window awnings offer you shade on sunny days.
The Hi-View series is made from tough 260gsm ripstop polycotton canvas. This tent has an impressive PU 1500mm water rating and seam sealing that will keep you dry in extended rainy conditions, giving you great protection from the elements all year round. The tent includes premium quality, high-density 65mm mattress with a removable cover and water-resistant base. There's enough room to stash your sleeping bag or doona inside, so your bed is made and waiting for you upon setting up.
The insulated baseboard is made with heavy-duty compressed aluminium. The kit also includes a fully removable, durable PVC cover for protection when you're in transit. The included mounting brackets suit most commercially available flat roof rack or roof rail systems. Ensure to check the weight rating and suitability of your roof rack and vehicle with appropriate manufacturers before purchase. We recommend professional installation through your local 4WD centre or contact us on 02 4041 4080 for installation advice.
Great for small families or those who want more space in their sleeping quarters, the Hi-View 1800 is a generously sized Roof Top Tent, perfect for your next weekend escape or extended driving holiday.
The ultimate family Roof Top Tent, the Hi-View 2200 is the largest in the Hi-View range, giving you all the room you need for your next family weekend escape or extended driving holiday.
For the dedicated 4x4 tourer, the Panorama 2 1400 is the ultimate kit for your rig. Its compact design and super-low pack down profile reduces wind drag and overall vehicle height, perfect for lifted vehicles navigating the urban jungle between off-road adventures.
This unrivalled RTT gives you the same simple set-up and pack down design that all DARCHE RTTs offer, but its high-spec build gives you the quality that will survive the harshest Australian elements.
Stay cool and comfortable in the heat while drifting off under the starry night views from the zippered sky window. Designed for maximum ventilation, extra-large zippered mesh windows on both sides provide exceptional airflow in warm weather without compromising on storm and sun protection. The removable fly and built-in air vents reduce condensation and provide airflow through rainy weather, while the gusseted window awnings offer you extra protection in all weather conditions.
The Panorama series is made from premium 320gsm ripstop polycotton canvas. This tent has an impressive PU 1500mm water rating, seam sealing and a removable polyester fly that will keep you dry in extended rainy conditions, giving you great protection from the elements all year round. The tent includes a premium quality, high-density 50mm mattress with a removable cover and water-resistant base.
This high spec RTT is made with an insulated baseboard, constructed from heavy-duty compressed checker-plate aluminium. The kit also includes a fully removable, durable PVC cover for protection when you're in transit. The included mounting brackets suit most commercially available flat roof rack or roof rail systems. Make sure to check the weight rating and suitability of your roof rack and vehicle with appropriate manufacturers prior to purchase.
We recommend professional installation through your local 4WD centre or contact us on 02 4041 4080 for installation advice.
If you're new to touring or prefer a tub-mount option for your dual cab ute - the Intrepidor 1400 Roof Top Tent is perfect for your next open road adventure.
Its lightweight construction is ideal for smaller SUVs and soft-roaders. With a quick set up time, you'll be drifting off under the night sky in minutes. Just fold out your RTT, drop the adjustable ladder and enjoy views of the Milky Way from the zippered sky window.
Built for comfort, the Intrepidor RTT is designed for maximum ventilation with extra-large zippered mesh windows on both sides, which provide exceptional airflow in warm weather without compromising on storm and sun protection. The adjustable fly and built-in air vents will see you through the rainy weather, preventing condensation and providing even more airflow, while the gusseted window awnings offer you shade on sunny days.
The Intrepid series is made from tough 260gsm ripstop polycotton canvas. This tent has an impressive PU 1500mm water rating and seam sealing that will keep you dry in extended rainy conditions, giving you great protection from the elements all year round.
The tent includes a premium quality, high-density 65mm mattress with a removable cover and water-resistant base. There's enough room to stash your sleeping bag or doona inside, so your bed is made and waiting for you upon set up.
The insulated baseboard is made with heavy-duty compressed aluminium. The kit also includes a fully removable, durable PVC cover for protection when you're in transit.
The included mounting brackets suit most commercially available flat roof rack or roof rail systems. Make sure to check the weight rating and suitability of your roof rack and vehicle with appropriate manufacturers prior to purchase.
We recommend professional installation through your local 4WD centre or contact us on 02 4041 4080 for installation advice.
The DARCHE Kozi Series Roof Top Tent is the ideal Roof Top Tent for starting your outdoor and off-road adventures.
This lightweight RTT is made with an aluminium baseboard, weighing only 48kg. This model is easy to set up and will suit a wide range of vehicles. With plenty of space for two, the sleeping quarters include a high-density foam mattress with removable polycotton cover for a comfortable night's sleep and easy care. Stay cool and comfortable in the heat, while drifting off under the starry night views from the zippered sky window with multiple windows and air vents for great ventilation.
Made from premium 300D Polyester Oxford material, this tent has an impressive PU 1500mm water rating, seam sealing and a removable polyester fly that will keep you dry in extended rainy conditions, giving you great protection from the elements all year round. The pre-mounted channel rails suit most commercially available flat roof rack or roof rail systems. Ensure to check the weight rating and suitability of your roof rack and vehicle with appropriate manufacturers before purchase.
The Ironman 4×4 Roof Top Tent provides the ultimate in ease and convenience when travelling. Unfolding in minutes, a rooftop tent provides sleeping quarters off the ground, protected from the elements. Spacious and comfortable, all bedding can remain inside the tent during the journey, freeing up vital storage space in the vehicle, and allowing the tent to be quickly and easily packed away.
When opened, Hard Clamshell tents transform into big triangles and are the quickest to set and pack up.
The hinges are all mounted on the same tracks making them easier to repair during maintenance.
The fabric is stretched tight, so it's also less flappy in bad weather. You can also angle the roof to deal with the weather by moving your car.
Examples from the best Hardshell clam rooftop tents brands in the market:
In an ever-changing world, we're all looking to get out there and enjoy this great country of ours. And there's nothing better while you're out adventuring in your 4x4 than having an easy and convenient way to set up camp and get a comfortable night's rest.
All-round sail rail style fixing system to attach light bars, awnings, shower tents, and other accessories
If you only need to sleep with 1 or 2 adults, you have the most options. Any more than that, and your options are limited. It's challenging to find a roomy hard shell roof top tent that is affordable; therefore, families are usually limited to a softshell. This is because they fold out over the side of your vehicle, effectively doubling the sleeping space.
You can also add an under awning annex tent to a softshell creating a whole new ground-level room, the perfect solution for two adults and two kids.
Hardshell tents easily fit two people, so singles and couples should have no problems. They can, of course, still get a soft shell tent for its affordability and extra space, but a single person may have trouble packing it up solo as sometimes you need someone to hold it down while the other zips up the cover.
Rooftop tents weigh from approx. 50kg to upwards of 90kg. So, you will need to make sure that when it's installed, your car does not weigh over its GVM (the maximum your vehicle can weigh when fully loaded).
Here at All Four x 4 Spares, we can help you increase your GVM with a Lovell GVM Suspension Upgrade.
Equally just as important is your roof rack's maximum static and maximum dynamic load. The static weight is how much the racks can hold when the vehicle is not moving, and the dynamic weight is how much it can hold when the vehicle is moving.
Often the roof racks that come standard with a vehicle just don't cut it, and an aftermarket roof rack will be required, here is a wide range.
If you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced sales team, and they will guide you towards choosing the right product for your needs.
Do you have any questions about Rooftop tents? Post them in the comments!
Diff breathers are essential insurance for your 4WD vehicle if you drive through water.
This post will cover a few critical aspects of diff breathers and an overview of their functionalities with a special mention of the most common diff breather kit brands on the market.
To begin with, everyone's 4wd has differentials, gearboxes and transfer boxes all have breathers on from the factory. The diff, gearbox and transfer need to vent off some of the excess heat generated within, ensuring that the seals and gears stay in good operating order.
The thing is, with a lot of 4wds, these vents are in pretty good locations, but with some, well... not so good at all.
In fact, some of them are actually relatively low in the vehicle.
And if you've got to do a water crossing, go through any water puddle or whatever it may be, it can have a dramatic effect. Furthermore, the rapid cooling of the diff causes the air inside the diff to condense and suck outside air in to fill the void.
You can imagine the heat that gets generated within the differentials of the vehicle, and then if you're going through a water crossing with that complete heat, well what can happen is that it can actually suck the water back into the differential and cause a lot of damage to the diff itself so by installing diff breathers and we've got a wide range here at All Four x 4 Spares, you can make sure that your vehicle is going to be well protected.
Because we can guarantee you, there's a lot of people that will do even the smallest water crossing, and it might be a crossing that they haven't actually even intended on doing and it's caused damage by sucking water into the diffs and the transfer case. So something to consider towards reducing that risk by installing diff breathers to your 4x4 vehicle.
Now you're not going to know that water is in there, and after a thousand Kms or so of driving with water in the diff, it can cause rust, and all sorts of premature failure, so an inexpensive diff breather kit will make a big difference to the car.
Please check the video below from Alan Johnson of Piranha Offroad to learn more about the basics of these inexpensive but useful products. They offer incredible protection for less than you think.
Diff breather kits also help by reducing the chance of the breather blocking (mud and dirt etc), if a breather was to block it can blow out oil seals.
How to install a diff breather?
Please check this video to learn more about installing a Diff Breather Kit to your 4wd
As discussed earlier, when the vehicle is running at normal operating temperatures, and driveline components come into contact with mud or water, the temperature change creates a vacuum inside your hot diffs, gearbox or transfer case.
This pressure shift encourages dirt, water and debris to be 'sucked' into the driveline components through the factory breathers or seals.
Blackhawk Diff Breather Kits replace the factory breathers and allow the driveline components to be vented in one central location, usually high above the potential water/mud level.
Thus enabling the components to breathe freely and eliminating the potential for oil contamination which can lead to damaged drivetrain components.
The Blackhawk Driveline breather kit acts as a 'snorkel' for the vehicle's driveline and is more than just a "diff breather".
The Blackhawk Driveline Breather Kit is installed in its complete four-port configuration and provides breathability and protection to the front and rear differentials, transmission and transfer case.
Suitable for diff housings, transfer cases, gearboxes and winch motors.
Specifically designed for use on vehicles that work in off-road and harsh conditions from sub-zero to humid tropics. The Ironman 4×4 twin breather kit is used to raise the height of your vehicles driveline components vents to help prevent water ingress by providing raised filtered ventilation.
The twin manifold allows for multiple components to be connected at one time or double the kit up for extra components. The kit is a fully machined aluminium manifold with brass filters with high-quality oil resistant reinforced hose.
Do you have any questions about Diff Breather Kits? Post them in the comments!
Elockers are amazingly helpful for 4WD vehicles when offroading, although they are not indispensable. Of course, you can also do without them when Overlanding or rock climbing, but you can't argue with the fact that they are very convenient.
This post will cover a few critical aspects of Elockers and overview their functionalities and mechanisms with a special mention of the most common brands in the market.
ELockers are reliable electronic, selectable differentials with net-forged gears for added strength and intended for 4wd drivers that require traction on-demand.
Basically, an ELocker operates as an open differential until you choose to need more traction.
You can go from open to 100% locked by flipping a switch, and when the electromagnet is activated, the ball bearings are forced out of their pockets and up the ramp, which pushes the locking pins into position in the back of the side gear.
The ELocker's electromagnetic locking mechanism is the next generation of aftermarket differential technology.
When unlocked, a locking differential operates like an open differential during turns, and the wheels can rotate at different speeds.
However, when the differential is locked, the wheels are forced to rotate at the same speed. Unlike an open differential, the torque can be significantly unbalanced.
To demonstrate why this is important, let's see what happens when one wheel is off the ground, which can occur when offroading or driving through a hole.
The locking differential forces the wheels to rotate at the same speed. The wheel in the air doesn't receive any torque because it has no traction; the other wheel receives all the torque, the vehicle moves.
So with the locking differential in action, When unlocked, the wheels can still rotate at different speeds during a turn but rotate at the same speed when locked.
As a result, torque is not always balanced and can be significantly unbalanced.
You can check this video to learn more about all the nitty-gritty:
While technically, you can engage it on the fly, you need to pay attention that the wheel speed difference (between the right and left wheel) remains under 50 rpm.
Eaton firmly advises engaging your ELocker only when the car speed is below 5mph.
While ELockers are intended to accommodate severe use, constant abuse and extreme speed engagement will significantly shorten the life of the ELocker and is not covered under warranty.
Also, note that when the electrical signal is received by the ELocker, it instantly attempts to lock and match wheel speeds.
As a result, the differential must immediately snap (accelerate) the slow speed wheel, axle shaft, and brake component mass (weight) to the same speed as the free-spinning wheel.
This is not only harsh on the differential; it is incredibly harsh on the axle shaft.
Please check this video to learn more interesting facts about Harrop Eaton Elocker engagement mechanisms
Please check this video from Mad Matt 4wd to learn more about installing a Diff
ELockers are activated by a dash (or console) mounted switch, included with all new ELockers.
Any suitable 12VDC (or 24VDC for military designs) switch will work.
The wiring harness with a relay switch, chassis electrical system protecting diode, and the fuse is included with all aftermarket performance ELocker differentials.
Yes, it's possible. According to your needs, several service kits are available, including gear service kits, locking mechanism kits, stator/armature kits, and a universal wiring kit.
You can also purchase just the ELocker wiring harness since it is universal to fit any vehicle and can be purchased separately. For specific inquiries, call our Elockers specialists on 02 4041 4041
The Eaton ELocker is an open differential with electronically-controlled locking features.
While the design of the locking components differs between models and generations of designs, they all work by locking one of the side gears to the differential case.
When the ELocker is engaged via the dash switch, the electromagnetic mechanism fully locks, evenly sending 100% of the available torque to both wheels.
All Eaton ELockers carry a relay in the wire harness which should be utilised.
While the current requirements of the differentials range from 5-10 amps, installers are well encouraged to use the relay to extend switch life and provide a more stable current to the differential electronics.
Most gear oils are adequate: a quality, petroleum-mineral based oil is recommended.
Synthetic oils and friction modifiers can also be utilised but are not mandatory.
A lower viscosity gear oil (equivalent to API GL-5 75W-90) is recommended in cold weather conditions.
Harrop ELocker's electromagnetic locking, four pinions, forged gear design is the next generation of aftermarket differential technology.
Functioning as an open differential until you require instant traction when locked, the Harrop ELocker takes 100% of available torque and distributes it evenly to both ends of the axle.
ELECTRIC LOCKING DIFFERENTIAL: Full axle lock, on-demand (ordinarily open, fully "street-able")
SIMPLE, DRIVER CONTROL: Push a button for maximum traction in challenging terrain
RELIABLE OPERATION: Net forged gears produce outstanding strength and endurance
Driver selectable operation - full axle lock upon activation
Net-forged gears for added strength
Works in forward and reverse
Front and rear axle applications
All Four x 4 Spares stock a Harrop E-Locker Electronic Diff Lock to suit solid axle differentials only (not Independent Front Suspension) for Toyota Landcruiser Solid Front Diffs for
Kit includes E-Locker centre, all required wiring harness with convoluted tubing, in-dash switch with covers for either front or rear locker (depending on your application) and a handful of cable ties to keep it all tidy. Comes with 3yr Manufacturers Warranty.
We can also stock or order Elockers for more vehicle make/models, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced sales team and they will guide you towards choosing the right product for your needs or order the right Elocker for your vehicle.
Do you have any questions about Elockers? Post them in the comments!
Ready to hit the road (hopefully interstate) this summer after what felt like an eternity? If you are planning long trips...cruising along, and enjoying the scenery, well.. cruise controls may come quite handy.
This post will cover a few critical aspects of cruise controls, what they are, how they work, and how they can benefit you on the road.
Cruise control is a system that automatically manages the speed of a car. Cruise controls help reduce drivers fatigue while driving a long distance by imitating how a human driver would drive.
But instead of pushing the accelerator pedal, it utilises an actuator to regulate the throttle helping your car cruise at the same speed. Or technically, a servomechanism's system that leads over the car's throttle to sustain the steady speed set by the driver.
Ok, you may ask, is a cruise control connected to the transmission?
The quick answer is that a cruise control utilises some of the same sensor inputs the transmission uses, affecting the transmission and cruise control. So, for example, if the transmission is slipping, the cruise control may not control the speed steadily.
You can check this video to learn more about all the nitty-gritty:
Sure, you can but applying the foot brake automatically shuts off the cruise settings.
Alternatively, you can step on the brake pedal using the decelerate button on your car's cruise control panel.
Typically, you can adjust the speed setting by tapping up or down.
Ideally, you should press on cruise control when there is little to no traffic and let you enjoy those clear roads, helping you maintain a consistent speed.
And, of course, use it only when the speed limit stays the same for long periods.
Well, it can potentially affect your reaction times.
As mentioned, cruise control makes it super-easy.
Still, it can get too comfortable, causing you not to stay alert while driving.
In addition, it can lead to slower reaction times in the event of unexpected stops in traffic.
Such as or when other drivers cut you off, distracted pedestrians, crazy kangaroos crossing into your path, you name it.
There is a bit of debate on using cruise control when raining.
Most people would recommend being fully in command and turning it off; however, others may suggest otherwise, as you can learn below:
Not at all.
The constant change in acceleration and deceleration costs extra fuel plus wear and tear on the driveline.
So cruise control is good for your car.
And generally speaking, it can save petrol by helping you become more fuel-efficient, saving an average of 7-14% on fuel, thanks to its ability to keep a constant speed and apply gentle acceleration.
You will save battery on flat roads. Doesn't matter what you drive: electric, petrol or diesel car.
On hilly roads, cruise control will use more energy, kind of obvious, really.
Using cruise control is an excellent method to control your speed when driving in determined areas.
Setting your vehicle's cruise control at a reasonable speed (speed limit would be a good start) will also reduce fuel consumption by limiting abrupt accelerations and decelerations.
You sure can, and it's never too late.
There are many aftermarket cruise control kits suitable for specific make/models (but you can also get universal fitting cruise control kits).
Both are pretty straightforward to install, as you can see in this video:
We proudly stock Plug and Play Autostrada E-Cruise Controls as a perfect addition for your 4WD.
They're easy to install, use, and engineered to ensure an ideal fit with the highest level of reliability.
OEM style steering wheel stalk and electrical connectors for reliability and ease of installation, giving that factory fitted look with a quality feel.
Installation is a simple process with all plugs being OEM style with only one wire which needs soldering.
A template is provided for cutting the hole required for fitting the stalk through the steering column shroud.
Includes LED for with 8mm bezel and cruise control decal.
Our Autostrada cruise control kits come with comprehensive, easy to follow fitting instructions, including diagnostic mode and troubleshooting guides.
Suits automatic or manual transmission vehicles with airbags.
Kits include steering column control stalk (with bolts and template), two wiring harnesses, RF transmitter, RF Receiver, LED bezel, cruise control decal, instructions and cable ties.
We stock the following:
Wonder what it is like driving using CRUISE CONTROL ONLY? Check it out here (and of course, please don't try this on the road)
credits to Alan Johnson from Piranha Off-Road
An important thing to look at when you're choosing a battery system for your vehicle is that it is going to be physically capable of handling the demands of a 4wd vehicle.
This post will cover a few critical aspects of Dual Battery Systems, what they are, how they work, and what to look for when installing them in your 4wd.
Now typically, in a 4WD vehicle, we're going to get:
A system has to be tough enough to withstand those very harsh conditions.
One of the beautiful things about living in Australia and being an Australian is that we have one of the best testing areas in all the world: the deserts in the outback.
Piranha Offroad R&D specialists came back from 7000 km's across the Simpson Desert doing further development work and testing on some of their products, and they had no dramas with their excellent dual battery systems proving their reliability whether that is going to be used in the Australian outback or the Australian bush.
There are some things that we need to look for:
We need to ensure that that product will be tough enough to work reliably and long term in our vehicle.
As briefly touched earlier, in a 4WD vehicle, we're going to get: extreme heat, vibration and lots and lots of shaking around you to corrugations.
Therefore we need a product that is strong enough to withstand that.
An excellent dual battery system will have features such as nickel-plated bolts and a sealed casing so when the wires go through, it won't allow any rubbish to get into it.
It'll be capable of standing years and years of corrugations reliably doing everything you want it to do
Now we're going to answer some questions that get asked all the time about dual battery systems.
A typical question is:
Why does a modern vehicle and what we mean by modern cars, something made probably in the last five years, require a different type of battery controller to what we possibly would have used in the 20 years prior to that?
The answer is straightforward:
Modern-day vehicles have full electronics on them that control everything from the gearbox, the engine management system, in most cases ABS brakes and in some cases, stability control.
There's probably more computing power in many of these modern vehicles than the original Apollo mission to the moon lol.
That's just the evolution.
Unfortunately, the old solutions like marine switches and solenoids are no longer relevant for modern-day cars, and why is that?
The computing power that we have in these modern vehicles means that these vehicles are susceptible to damage from things like voltage spikes.
A voltage spike or a surge occurs when you parallel batteries together in a charging scenario. It's just like jump-starting.
Now obviously, you don't want to damage the computer in your car, and you don't want to damage any of the electronics either.
Even things like GPS's can be affected by surges and spikes, so the answer to that is to try and not create that surge or spike in the first place.
Piranha Offroad originally introduced modern-day systems with technology that allowed us to run smart computer systems in our cars with a battery isolation system that was compatible and safe.
Since then, technology has developed even further.
Now what's happened is; originally, we used to have minimal choices of batteries.
We had basically wet cells in cranking and wet cells in deep cycle.
Nowadays, we have:
However, you then need to use smarter technology products. Something like products driven typically by a microprocessor:
Importantly, the smarter systems cannot damage the electronics on your car, so you will not be stranded, and you'll not be in limp home mode.
You can use these products with absolute confidence knowing that everything is going to be fine. Learn more about the Piranha 140 Amp Dual Battery Management System HERE.
The last thing, of course, is very important is that on an older style vehicle, you don't necessarily need this level of technology.
But if you do sell that vehicle in a couple of years and then upgrade to something a bit newer, this can go with you.
The life expectancy of these products is typically 15 years or more, so a smart answer with smart technology is a great way to go.
What are the features that we should be looking for in a modern dual battery controller?
One of the very most important features that most simple systems do not have is one-way flow.
In other words, very simply, let's explain this in terms of tanks of water.
If one tank is full and the other one is empty, and we join the two tanks together, they'll equalize so that the full one will go down to half and the flat one will come up to half.
That's not what you want in a modern system.
You must have a one-way flow so effective that the alternator charges the main battery, and after that's charged, it charges the auxiliary battery, so one-way flow is one of the most important features.
The second thing is we must have in a smart, intelligent modern system electronic current limiting.
We can't be using fuses or circuit breakers. They just are not fast enough to protect those computers that we need to look after.
The next feature is related to a frequently asked question, not IF it goes wrong, but WHEN it goes wrong.
Because everything gets old and wears out eventually, it's critical that you will not be left stranded when a system fails.
If this system ever goes wrong, it does not impinge or in any way affect the computer, the starting, or the running of the car.
The worst thing that might happens is getting warm beers as the fridge will stop working.
Back to the points again.
The joints in every electrical system have the potential of having problems
So typically, we don't want lots of joints in our system in the wires in these smarter systems.
We typically only have two connections, one onto each of the batteries.
If you've got external fuses and circuit breakers, you end up with six or more connections.
So keeping the joins to an absolute minimum is really, really important.
The next thing, of course, is an infinite choice of batteries.
Now you don't have much choice over what battery the car comes with when you buy it initially, but once that battery is worn out, the choice is up to you.
With smart systems, we can run any type of chemistry or technology. Now, remember that different chemistry batteries require different amounts of voltage to make them charge correctly.
They have different charging regimes. That's the technical term for it.
With these systems, we can use dissimilar batteries with very specific charging regimes and still get them to charge properly.
Very importantly, these systems are Australian made and Australian tested with five years or more warranty.
Piranha Offroad are experts when it comes to dual battery setup for off-road vehicles.
A dual battery setup gives you extra power for your vehicle electrics and accessories.
Piranha also produces a range of high-quality battery trays designed primarily for dual battery systems.
Piranha has the battery tray you need, no matter what make or model of your 4WD.
All Piranha battery trays are designed for strength and made out of plated steel. Built with high sides and pressed bases, Piranha battery trays are made to withstand the stress of offroading in any condition.
Piranha battery trays all come with fixing hardware included.
Piranha Offroad is the answer if you are looking to upgrade to a dual battery system without all the fuss.
Check here for our selection of Piranha Offroad products, including battery trays, electrical accessories, and camping gear.
If you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced sales team, and they will guide you towards choosing the right product for your needs.
Do you have any questions about Dual Battery Systems? Please post them in the comments!
In this post, we will run through what type of spare parts and tools we recommend you bring, especially if you're travelling independently in pretty remote areas. This list does not intend to be fully comprehensive, however, you can use it as a reference.
A sturdy box that's good for nuts and bolts is your first port of call for spare parts.
If you have a metric vehicle, bring metric nuts and bolts.
Bring ones that are relative to your vehicle by figuring out which ones are important.
You can buy them pretty cheaply, and also, let's say you've recently upgraded the exhaust or something, just bring the spare bolts so if you lose one, then you have it and you are covered.
Now a piece of extra advice is if you lose a bolt or nut on your vehicle. If you don't have the spare size, you might find something else on your vehicle that has one that's not important that you can take it off and put it on to where it is required.
A fuel filter is one of the most critical spares that you should even carry in the city if possible.
Getting bad quality fuel is an unfortunate possibility, and it's a big problem, especially with very sensitive diesel engines from the new vehicles. Carrying a spare fuel filter is a safe bet if you ever have to change the fuel filter somewhere out in a bush.
It can also be handy to carry a spare air filter in case yours gets wet or dusty.
Do you really need wheel bearings? We suggest you do if you go remote travel.
But even if you are not going that remote, you should have full bearings because if a wheel bearing fails in your vehicle, your wheel won't turn, and needless to say, you'll be stuck!
If you bring wheel bearings, make sure you also bring grease so you can actually grease them up and put them in. And of course, you'll also need tools for the job.
You should really have spare wheel studs and nuts. It's a good idea to carry a set of six for each (and be covered if you lose a whole wheel).
If not, then you have to take every single wheel off and then pull one stud out of each wheel to put that spare wheel up.
Another plus in bringing a fresh set of wheel nuts and studs is when you try to replace a wheel and the stud snaps because they have been tightened with a 400 Newton force rattle gun by some tire shops. Needless to say, making your life hard.
What we do recommend you carry are your belts. If you are fortunate that your vehicle is a single belt, bring a serpentine belt. If your vehicle has three belts, bring all the spare belts you can to be safe.
Suppose you lose a belt on those multi belt systems. In that case, you may find that a different vehicle, even from a different make and model, may have a belt from their air conditioning that they don't need. That may fit your water pump or whatever is wrecked, so you may have a get-out-of-jail-free there.
But for the sake of ease, just bring some spare belts. Ensure you have tools to change or adjust your belt, sometimes special tools are required.
We recommend if you have a vehicle that's older than 200,000Kms to just get plenty of spare top and bottom hoses. But even if you drive more modern vehicles, just carry some radiator hoses (just in case).
Speaking of radiators again, if you bust a radiator hose, you are going to obviously lose some liquid that will need to be put back in.
So, don't leave without some radiator coolant and if it is concentrate, the better.
You can also bring oil, diff oil, power steering fluids, automatic transmission fluids, and essential fluids.
Depending on if you travel solo or with other people, you may share all the fluids with each other. If not and you travel solo, bring them all.
If you bring motor oil, making sure it's the right one for your vehicle. If you are unsure of the exact type, speak to your mechanic.
And don't forget brake fluid! Make sure to carry a sealed brake fluid bottle as a spare. If the seal is off, it would have absorbed moisture from the atmosphere, and performance would be reduced.
There is a difference between oil for an LSD (limited-slip differential) and a regular differential.
LSD gear oil fluid has a friction modifier additive as part of the formulation. This is required for correct differential operation. In general, you can use a "Limited Slip" differential lubricant in a standard differential, making it the best option for a group.
What you can't use in an LSD differential is non LSD oil. You will need LSD oil in your differential.
Most vehicles with diff lockers will need LSD oil, and some vehicles need it front and rear. So if you're going to bring any oil, bring LSD oil because it will work on most vehicles. Just make sure that the viscosity and oil compatibility details match what your vehicle should be using.
However, if you're in the middle of nowhere and you need some gear oil, and someone has LSD oil, you're pretty much 99% sure that you'll be ok to use it to get out of there and then reassess what you need afterwards.
WD water displacement spray can be handy for when you're working on things like taking your spare parts off. You need this kind of stuff to help you.
Brake cleaners: although they can be a bit expensive, you'll need them.
Contact cleaners are suitable for your electrical stuff. Rather than using water displacement to clean your electrical contacts, use a contact cleaner.
And don't forget a simple window washer! Driving with a clean window is more enjoyable against blinding sunsets or tons of bugs.
Please don't carry cheap CVs or cheap fuel filters, thinking they are just for spare use.
Bring your spare fuses, your blade fuses, making sure to get your vehicle-specific ones.
You may need to get underneath your footwell or inside your engine bay and work out the important ones and what size they are and just buy them; they are pretty cheap.
Here is a comprehensive bullet list of tools to bring:
We believe proper vehicle service maintenance is the best thing you can do before overlanding to remote areas and will reduce the chances that things go bad on your trip. However, this list of spares and tools is a good starting point to cover most situations.
All Four x 4 Spares stocks a massive range of genuine/quality aftermarket OEM spare parts and tool-related products from the best brands.
If you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced sales team. They will guide you towards choosing the right product for your needs.
Do you have any questions about spares or tools? Post them in the comments!
credits: Ronny Dahl
Driving with family or friends is probably more enjoyable (well, that would depend on who your family members or mates are) and much safer if you can communicate easily with each other.
However, it'll also be handy if you can easily communicate with people outside your group.
In this post, we will cover a few critical aspects of 4wd communication when travelling and provide an overview of the most common devices.
Be sure to save this post; you never know when you may need 4wd communication tips before or during your trip.
There are several communication methods available to overland or offroad drivers, and that's a positive thing since there are various communication needs.
A typical mix of types of communication would be:
Let's analyse each of these methods more in details:
Just a tiny consideration about mobile phones
They do the job for general purposes when within range, but they won't help intra-convoy chats.
An Ultra-High-Frequency radio, more commonly known as UHF, has a set of citizen's band, or CB, frequencies available for unrestricted, public use.
It's a two-way radio system that is free to use, and you won't need a licence. Radio units are either mounted on the vehicle, with available ranges between 1km and 40km depending on terrain, or handheld, in which case you may get a range from 1 to 5 kilometres, depending on terrain. The unit and antenna's specs are contributing factors in range/quality.
CBs don't work like mobile phones for a series of reasons:
UHF CBs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but can broadly be categorised into in-car and handheld units.
In-car and handheld units are the most common UHF CBs:
CB is very relaxed and clear; short communication is essential. Here are a few words to memorise:
It can happen quite frequently during trips to find other parties on the same channel.
The trip leader may choose to switch channels or not. A channel change may depend if you travel in urban or more remote areas.
A moving 4WD convoy quickly passes out of the range in urban areas, so moving channels is often not worth the effort. But when in remote areas, perhaps offroading, the convoy passes much slower, so a channel change may be made.
Don't forget: anything you say on a CB can be heard by everyone else in the group or anybody who may be listening.
Unfortunately, some less courteous CB users act like trolls, insulting and provoking people. Just ignore them. Do not change channels as they will easily follow you.
Can someone ask you to clear a channel? They surely can and will at some point. Do you have to? It's up to you. The police and others have channels outside of the CB range.
The best place is at the top of a hill. Climb higher if you can't raise someone. UHF CB radios require a line of sight to work adequately
You can likely receive transmissions, but your radio cannot send them, or vice-versa. That can happen, for example, when you have a car radio talking to a handheld radio: the two are separated by some distance, and the handheld has insufficient power to transmit clearly that distance. However, it can receive.
In that case, the blind transmission may be helpful. State, "transmitting blind" before you transmit, so the other person knows that you do not necessarily expect a response.
use it if required, but speaking more clearly is often better
SOS is dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot, that all repeated after a short break. A dot is one short sound, and a dash is the same but longer.
Since 2011, the number of UHF CB channels changed from 40 to 80. These are used as follows:
|1-8||Repeater Output||Avoid unless you intend to use a repeater|
|5||Repeater Emergency only||Defined by Law|
|10||4WD Clubs||General Use (often used by 4wd drivers)|
|11||Calling Channel||Must switch to a conversation channel when making contact|
|18||Holiday Channel (convoy caravanner)||General Use|
|22-23||Data Channels||No voice transmission permitted (defined by law)|
|29||Highway (Road Channel)||General Use|
|30||Conversations||General Use (broadcast)|
|31-38||Repeater Output||Avoid unless you intend to use a repeater|
|35||Repeater Emergency only||Defined by Law|
|40||Highway (Road Channel)||Defined by law, for talking to other road users|
|41-48||Repeater Output||Avoid unless you intend to use a repeater|
|71-78||Repeater Output||Avoid unless you intend to use a repeater|
The power of a radio is measured in watts, which is basically how strongly the signal is radiated.
That strength depletes with an inverse square law, which means, all else being equal, to double the range of a 0.5-watt unit, you'll need a 2.54-watt radio.
The maximum permitted CB UHF power in Australia is 5 watts. The same law means that you'll get a quarter of the signal strength if you double your distance from a transmitter.
Receiving has nothing to do with the transmitter's power and everything to do with the quality and location of the antenna.
It's worth getting that right, as once you have tried UHF radio, you'll never want to travel without it.
Radio performance is mainly dependant on the antenna, which is why a 5-watt handheld radio with a low antenna won't perform like an in-car five-watt unit with its higher antenna.
The location of the antenna is fundamental to its performance. Ideally, it would go on the roof rack or gutter, but the bull bar works too.
A taller antenna is not necessarily better. Tall antennae are high gain which means they can transmit a long way, but only in a narrow band.
Shorter antennas are low gain, which means their transmissions are wider but don't travel as far.
Think of a doughnut, either squashed flat or normally shaped. An eight dBd (decibel relative to unity) is high gain, one dBd is low gain, and three to four is middle of the range. You can learn more by exploring the antennas's range from Oricom
Repeaters are base stations that look for signals on channel 1-8 and automatically re-transmit them a long way on channels 31-38.
Useful but avoid channels one to eight unless you actually mean to use a repeater.
AM CB radios are the same as UHF, except they operate on a different frequency.
They are not used much nowadays as UHF is far clearer. However, AM often has a range advantage, and with so few people on it, less clutter.
When offroading, you may run into situations where you must talk to an expert or the authorities.
You might have a life-threatening injury on your hands, a dead vehicle that you are unable to fix or be cornered by impassable roads with supplies running out.
For others, communication is more ordinary: many people conduct business remotely and being contactable can mean the difference between a holiday going ahead or not. Or perhaps you are waiting on really important news but don't want to delay a trip.
So there is a case for remote area communications, and one of the most common solutions is a satellite phone, or satphone, as it's highly portable and easy to use.
Everyone knows what conventional mobile is - one that works on the GSM network - but perhaps not how it works.
The GSM network is a series of radio base stations all over the country with a typical range of around 30km. Your mobile is a radio transmitter/receiver and has adequate power to transmit your call to the nearest base station. From there, it hooks into the national telephone network and thus the world.
The limitation is that you need to be close to a base station, which won't help for outback travel, and the signal doesn't pass through or over hills, in part because it is broadcast from terrestrial stations.
Products like these Mobile Phone Signal Repeater Boosters help reduce call drop outs, improve cellular coverage in remote areas, and improve download speed so they come in very handy!
Anyway; satphones operate much the same way, but their base stations are satellites. While the satellites can see a large part of the earth, not all satphones systems have truly worldwide coverage.
Just because you have a satphone doesn't mean to say you'll be able to get assistance. If you need to make an emergency call, chances are you'll want to do so quickly, and the situation will be stressful.
You may also be struggling with battery life, noisy weather, service dropouts and limited time. The call needs to be quick and to the point, so get prepared. If you need to leave a message, don't assume you will be understood:
Adding a 12V adaptor and external antenna means no worries about battery life - then you can sit inside a comfortable, quiet car to make the call rather than battle the elements (a satphone doesn't work well inside a vehicle without an external antenna as it cannot easily see its satellites)
Make a list of emergency numbers, and more than one friend who you know can be trusted in an emergency. Then work out what you'll be likely to be saying. Here is an example list of information to leave and to take with you on a laminated card.
This list is what authorities will want to know
Some examples of numbers to take:
Finally, please do not consider a satphone as a get out of jail free card that substitutes for careful planning, training and quality equipment. Note that satphones should be able to call 112, the international emergency number, with or without a plan or SIM.
While satphones resemble mobile phones, they don't work like mobile phones.
As satphones are often carried for emergency purposes, the people making the calls may be scared, in adverse weather conditions and unfamiliar with satphones.
Could they still make an emergency call? We recommend not only familiarising everyone in your party with the phone but also including two copies of clear written instructions describing how to make an emergency call and turning all PIN codes and the like off.
Storing everything in a small camera bag is a good idea, too, but make sure it's easily accessible should you need to exit the vehicle in a hurry
High-frequency (HF) radio is similar to UHF but with a much longer range.
That means you can talk to anyone from anywhere, but you do need a licence. The units are relatively expensive at around $2000+ and not very portable.
Vehicle-mounted radio kits could be damaged by fire or rollovers, whereas handset satphones are less vulnerable and more portable.
The good thing about HF is you become part of a travelling community, not just talking one-to-one as you would with a satphone, and there is no usage fee.
You can talk to people further up the track, for example. HF is free to use, and you can broadcast and listen in to the "skeds" or scheduled information services.
When things turn desperate (like in life danger situations) and you are far away from normal communication channels, you will need help. What to do? A distress beacon could be the answer.
There are small, tough devices that, when set off, broadcast a radio signal to the rescue authorities, who will respond and assist.
Be clear about their use; beacons are to be used only "when there is a threat of grave or imminent danger", and other communications methods have been exhausted.
When you set one off, search, and rescue (SAR) teams are going to leap into action. This costs a lot of money, but more importantly, there are only so many SAR teams, and you don't want them turning up to a non-serious situation when they should be attending a real emergency.
Beacon communications are very simple, just a distress signal and maybe coordinates. There is no way to say what the problem is, on any two-way communication, unlike a satphone or HF radio.
That said, the simplicity of a beacon is its strength. They are much cheaper than a satphone, easier to use, there are no ongoing costs, they are small, tougher, more reliable and will work out your position (if fitted with GPS, although they cannot be used for navigation) and they continually transmit it. You could put one in your car and almost forget it exists, just as insurance.
They are a complement to satphones and HF radio, not a replacement, and the reason they exist is to firstly alert the authorities to those in real trouble and then "take the search out of search and rescue."
There is not just one type of distress beacon, but several, all of which operates on the same basic principle; once activated, they send a distress radio signal until the battery dies.
The first type is an EPIRB, or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. These are designed to be mounted for vessels for maritime use, float with the antenna upright and operate for at least 48 hours. Some activate on contact with water. Distress beacons are sometimes incorrectly referred to as EPIRBs, and an EPRIB is just one type of distress beacon.
There are ELTs, or Emergency Locator Transmitters used in aircraft and designed to operate on impact, then continue transmitting for at least 24 hours. Most aircraft are required to carry an ELT.
PLBs are Personal Locator Beacons, which, as the name suggests, are small, light, designed to be carried by a person anywhere they may be and are manually activated. They float but are not required to do so with their antenna upright and need only transmit for 24 hours.
Off-roaders should choose between PLBs or EPIRBs. Both will do the job, but cost and size will probably see most opt for PLBs. An EPIRB may be 260x120x83mm and weigh half a kg, whereas a PLB may weigh 250g with dimensions of 135x71x38mm.
That means it is easily slipped into a side pocket of a vehicle or taken on walks or other activities. A PLB will cost a lot less than $1000, or you can hire them.
You must ensure the beacon you buy is designed for the Australian system; the government organisation in charge of beacons, the Australian maritime safety authority (AMSA), warns against some North American types.
That said, all 406MHzbeacons work everywhere in the world and all work on the same principle.
There are two types of beacon, those on the 121.5MHz frequency and those on 406MHz, but the 121.5MHz types were phased out in February 2009 and should be destroyed by authorised personnel so they cannot be used or send a false alarm.
All 406 MHz units must be registered with AMSA, which cost nothing. Australian units must be coded with the Australian identifier 503, and the contacts given to AMSA must be Australian.
The registration process asks for the unique beacon HEXID or UIN number (printed on the beacon), what make and model it is, your contact details and three emergency contact details.
If applicable, you can fill out vessel or aircraft details or use the Land section to describe your vehicle. If the beacon is set off, the authorities know whose it is, who they are looking for, who to contact and what vehicle you may be. After registration, a confirmation letter with proof of registration sticker will be sent to you. The sticker should be attached to your EPIRB or PLB next to the HEXID already marked on the beacon.
The stickers are valid for two years and provide an easy visual check for authorities to check your beacon is registered.
When activated, the beacon transmits a radio signal, on 406MHz, which contains its ID, to a set of satellites, pulsing the signal at a power of five watts.
These satellites are run by Cospas-Sarsat, an international organisation started by the USA, France, Canada and Russia in 1979.
There are two types, LEOSAR which are in low earth orbit and more relative to the earth, and GEO SAR, which are geostationary, so they don't move relative to the earth.
The two are complementary; for example, as LEOSAR moves, it may be able to get in positions to receive a signal where GEO SAR cannot, but GEO SAR offers immediate pickup.
If you get a GEO SAR satellite, the authorities know about it within 5 minutes, but otherwise, you may need to wait up to an hour for one of the five LEOSAR satellites to come by as they orbit the world once every 100 minutes.
Now there is a quicker and more accurate way to get help; the beacon's exact location can be encoded in the signal. That's pretty simple; just add a GPS receiver to the beacon and once the GPSR acquires a lock, send the coordinates along.
Suppose the beacon is in a clear area. In that case, it'll take a few minutes to acquire a GPS lock, and then you'll get near-instant and exact notification of location (within around 120 metres) to the rescue team who now also have a good idea or what sort of terrain or water you are in even before they depart.
Consider, too, that once the authorities have your coordinated, they will continue to the location and don't require the beacon to transmit it, but leave it on as the homing signal makes it easier for them to find you. All up GPS capability is definitely worth the extra couple of hundred dollars.
Owning and maintaining a beacon is easy. Please keep it away from magnetic sources, run the self-test as required, check it hasn't been damaged, keep it away from children, keep the registration details updated with AMSA and explain its use to any adults. Call AMSA ON 1800 641 792 immediately if a beacon is accidentally activated; there is no penalty for doing so.
Secure your beacon to avoid hoaxers playing with people lives. Check the battery life, which will be a few years, and when it needs replacing, get it done only by a dealer. Take care of it because one day you may need it.
All Four x 4 Spares stocks a massive range of communication and navigation-related products such as Antennas, Maps, Books & DVDs, UHF & CB Radios, Walkie Talkies from the best brands including Hema Maps, Oricom, CEL-Fi.
If you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced sales team and they will guide you towards choosing the right product for your needs.
Do you have any questions about 4wd communications? Post them in the comments!
We are fortunate here at All Four x 4 Spares. Our staff live and breathe 4wd adventure and when they take their holidays, they don't just sit back and relax...they undertake overlanding trips with their own 4wds to some of the most remote areas this country has to offer.
When they return to the office, they do not hesitate to show off their magnificent travel photos to stir colleagues and make them just a bit jealous :)
That is the case of Dave and Deb, who are almost experts in packing up all the necessities on their Land Rover Defender and head out for weeks of exploration.
They recently travelled 4500kms in 3 weeks in April to south-western QLD and north-western NSW.
Here is the travel diary they returned with along with some spectacular images...Enjoy!
"After the rain in March, the landscape was a vivid green parkland with surface water still evident, a stark contrast to the dry, dusty and grassless landscapes that we have come to expect.
After leaving Hebel, we visited Culgoa Floodplain, Thushton, Mariala, Lake Bindegolly and Currawinya National Parks.
Access to Culgoa was opened the day before we arrived. We were presented with long sections of water covered track before arriving at Byra Lagoon to camp for 2 nights.
We had the park to ourselves and enjoyed the sight of a full lagoon filled with birdlife.
Then we travelled north on station tracks to Thrushton via Mitchell and Bollon to once again have the park to ourselves.
There is a beautifully restored shearing shed, and evidence of open bore drains that once watered the sheep.
The next stop was Mariala via Charleville and yet again our own private park where we explored on a drive to waterholes camp area and a hike to a beautiful lookout on an escarpment.
This was the end of our first week, and temperatures were in the low 30s until a late change on our last night at Mariala.
The road then took us to Adavale, a beer at the pub with Cos, the publican, to celebrate our third visit; apparently, we are rare!
Next stop, Lake Bindegolly, and two hikes to be amazed at the water and the birds.
Then we headed east to find the northern access to Currawinya NP along Yenlora Rd to Myninya campground. The 85 km drive was magnificent over rocky terrain with some washouts requiring low low as this road had also been recently closed.
We travelled beside the Walters Range and through Gidgee country before arriving at camp where the lake that last time was dry was now full. Once again, we were the only people in the park.
From here, we explored the new northern area of Currawinya via Boorara Springs circuit, 110kms, that took us past the woodshed, mound springs and over the Walters Range that provided magnificent vistas.
We also revisited Budjiti lookout, and this time we could see Lakes Numalla and Wyara in the distance, full of water!
After 2 nights, we moved to Ourimperee Waterhole camp area beside the Paroo.
We were entertained by a lone pelican who trolled up and down for his dinner.
We visited the lakes to be amazed at the transformation from our last visit when they were both dry. It was wonderful to hear waves crashing and birds calling.
The next day we explored the newly opened Beefwood Rd from the woodshed to the Eulo-Hungerford Rd and found a beautiful wetland area and were lucky to see a pair of Brolgas. This road also crossed the Walters range with great views again and had amazing history about how cattle were transported.
We spent 6 nights in Currawinya and travelled 700 kms in the park.
Then we had a huge loop to visit our friends at Boneda, near Breewarina, via Eulo, Cunumulla, Baringun and Engonia, 300kms, as we needed fuel and some roads were still closed.
When we arrived, they were still shearing, so we experienced a working shearing shed and dinner with the shearing crew. Dave and I went out with Jen, the owner, on quad bikes to see the amazing water-filled paddocks that were dustbowls on our last visit and check on the sheep and goats.
After the shearers left, Dave and Steve, owner, drove 100ks to Weilmoringle to collect wild dog baits for Jen to distribute. While Jen was busy, Steve jumped on a quad bike, and Dave and I drove in Steve's Toyota ute to help with goat mustering and boy are they crazy animals.
Home again, and Dave is still recovering from driving the Toyota.
What a good end to a trip that gave a different view to land previously visited, we made our way home from Boneda via Gilgandra and the golden highway. I wonder what the next trip has in store"