Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

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Sticky Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Rislar on Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:17 am

Luckily we rarely ever have to deal with soft sand. Only when the road has been washed away in a recent rainstorm will you be exposed to sand in a dry river bed or so. As long as the sand is moist you are safe. Traction and flotation are not an issue.

Only when the sand has dried to a fine consistency and is even difficult to walk on, will you have a hard time driving on it.

4WD and AWD will do best on soft sand. Automatic AWD is OK but not as efficient as 4WD and AWD.
Make sure you know exactly what you are driving.

Stock tires do not provide enough flotation for todays rather heavy vehicles. They’ll cut into the sand like a hot knife in butter. You probably won’t get far. The resistance of the sand will soon slow you down to a stop. Small, light 4WD vehicles do best on soft sand.

This is very important for you to remember: When you notice that one or more tires start spinning (if necessary have someone monitor the tires for you) get off the gas immediately!

Spinning tires will dig deep into the sand and make going back to safe ground very hard. A speedy recovery is almost impossible.

Forget momentum to carry you through soft sand. Using momentum means to be out of control. You’ll have almost no steering control. You could hit obstacles hidden in the sand or might smash into trees and bushes.

Remember... avoid getting stuck in the first place.
I wrote earlier that if the sand stops you, to get off the gas immediately. The only safe and controlled procedure to drive on soft sand is with substantially deflated tires. Depending on your tire size and vehicle weight drop from your regular tire pressure down to at least 20 psi - if necessary down to 10 psi. Any pointy object pressed into the valve will release the air for you. You should carry a pressure gauge - of course.

Here is why you need to deflate your tires.

The tires are now very soft and a large footprint of rubber is in contact with the sand. Drive slowly until you reach firm ground again. Soft sand puts up so much resistance that you may have to use 4WD low range.

If you have a manual transmission shifting up in sand will be almost impossible. So, start in 2nd gear low range and keep it there until you are through.

Automatic owners can enjoy all gears. The automatic is able to shift up without any loss of momentum and the torque converter always provides needed extra torque. However, the hard working engine and the heat generated in the torque converter during this process might lead to overheating. Heat kills automatics. Therefore you may use low range as well.

If you have to drive for several miles on the soft stuff (i.e. up a long desert wash or a long stretch of beach) be extra careful with rocks that might "drift in the sand" like an iceberg showing only the top. Hit it and you risk severe tire damage.

After you are back on firmer ground you should reinflate the tires before driving faster than 30 mph.

Beach driving is a lot of fun, but some are not to be driven on, please check first.

Beach driving requires you to drop tire pressure to about 10 psi.

One more time - why you need to deflate your tires.

Even remote beaches have sometimes vacation homes. Please respect the presence of their owners. Slow down when you see a house on the beach. Kids might be at play. Always drive slowly past any homes.

If you see people present at the beach, drive extremely slow past them. Waive and say “hi”. Even better stop and ask: “How are you?”

Driving on beach sand can be very tricky. Watch for small pieces of wood that were carried up the beach by high tides - they might have nails in them.

Some stretches of beach are tilted down towards to the water. While driving on this tilt you might experience that your rear drifts to the downside. Do not steer to the high side at this point because you will likely loose traction and your rear end will swing to the downhill side even more. The added resistance will also stall your vehicle. Instead steer to the down side, get up to some speed and try to position your vehicle again parallel to the waterline.

Look far ahead. Those tilts might become steeper as you go. So steep that you might not be able to go back up and there might not be enough room to turn around. You’d better have a very good story for your insurance company once you lost your car in the water.

Be aware of rising tides! They come always faster than you think.

Stay at least ten feet away from the waterline. NEVER drive in the water. Rust will render your vehicle useless in a few days. Soft, wet sand close to the waterline could swallow your vehicle.

Believe me - they happen very frequently. TV commercials spread the message that it is fun to drive in the shallow ocean water. And I totally agree - its great fun! What they don’t tell you is that they throw the vehicle away when they are done filming.

Avoid also driving fast on wet sand. Drive slowly. At speed salty sand would be thrown all over your undercarriage and will cause rust.

Needless to say on the beach you drive at your own risk.

Please note:

If you plan to drive frequently on soft sand, consider installing larger wider tires (larger air volume) on your vehicle.


Last edited by Rislar on Thu Jan 07, 2010 2:43 am; edited 1 time in total

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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Dave C on Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:29 am

thumbsup cheers bud........I will be 'shore' to remember that....
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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Rislar on Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:32 am

Dave C wrote:thumbsup cheers bud........I will be 'shore' to remember that....

Shocked Laughing

You should though as i've done this so many times, its a real handy tip Exclamation

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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Dave C on Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:37 am

I know a lot of people go on these pay and play places........must be fun.....but more importantly you learn how to drive your trucks.....in all conditions.....

I am more used to mud than sand........farmers fields and that when training with the dogs.......but normally not too bad......but still fun.... lol!
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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Rislar on Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:41 am

Me too as i also am in the mud, but we are on the coast so really best of both worlds Very Happy

Hence the tires i have on the Nav, it will go anywhere with them baby's fitted Very Happy

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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Dave C on Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:42 am

And i bet you enjoy every minute..... Cool
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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Rislar on Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:45 am

Oh yes Laughing


Last edited by Rislar on Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:43 am; edited 1 time in total

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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Hicube on Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:43 am

Yet another great sticky Thanks You

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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Rislar on Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:44 am

We try to please Very Happy Hats Off

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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Hicube on Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:49 am

Dave C wrote:I know a lot of people go on these pay and play places........must be fun.....but more importantly you learn how to drive your trucks.....in all conditions.....

I am more used to mud than sand........farmers fields and that when training with the dogs.......but normally not too bad......but still fun.... lol!

The pay and play days are great fun.
Heres a couple of pics from a few years back when i took the wifes Frontera out for a day...... she was not happy when i got home lol!




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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Rislar on Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:51 am

Ha ha, Cool i bet she kicked your arse lol!

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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Dave C on Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:52 am

Lovely mud.........

I bet she was ever so slightly miffed....... oops


How did you find the Frontera.......chap at work has one......poor sod had nothing but trouble with the Engine management system..... No
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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Hicube on Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:59 am

She was not a happy lady..... Slap

The Frontera was a great little tool off road.
On road it was not my cup of tea, but she loved it. The only problem i ever had with it was a snapped cam belt (about a week after the play day Escape ) This was a 5 min fix so not a biggie really. Had it 2 years and sold it for more than i bought it for. Was a right little bargain Driving

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Sticky Re: Driving on soft sand - like at the beach

Post by Dave C on Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:01 pm

Result......
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