Sand driving isn’t as difficult as it looks or sounds. My top 13 tips below will set you up for a fun day out in the Wahiba dunes or elsewhere in Oman. As long as you follow the rules and safety precautions for off-road driving in Oman you’ll be guaranteed a good time in the beautiful dunes of Oman.
Also, don’t worry about getting bogged down and stuck in the sand; it’s inevitable even for the best divers.
D’s Top 13 Sand Driving Tips
Lower Tire Pressure
The top sand driving tip to help you drive across sand is to lower your tire pressure. Doing so increases the surface area of your tire letting you essentially float across the sand. For most conditions 15psi should be sufficient. A heavy, long-wheelbase four wheel drive should be able to handle pressures as low as 12psi when it is really soft, and 8psi in real sticky situations.
Avoid Sharp Turns
Now that you have lowered your tire pressures you run the risk or rolling your tires off your wheels, yikes! Giving smaller inputs into your wheel will lower your risk of doing this including lowering your risk of rollover. A win win.
Choose Low Range 4×4
Here is a sand driving tip you that is often missed. Choosing low 4×4 gives your engine a little more grunt through gearing to help you achieve the next sand driving tip:
Sand driving is all about keeping your momentum to get you across and over the soft bits. By lowering your pace, thinking ahead a hundred meters, and keeping your engine in it’s power range through gearing will help you to keep your momentum.
Drive Straight Over Obstacles
A fully loaded 4×4 can tip over easily while sand driving across steep dunes. When driving up or down dunes, approach the obstacle square to the front of your vehicle. It is much more difficult to tip your vehicle over frontwards or backwards when compared to the sides.
Stop on Hard Sand or Face Downhill
Eventually you will need to stop while sand driving, and a little foresight will help you when it comes time to start driving again. Most likely after a few minutes of sand driving you will start to be able to feel which patches of sand are hard and soft. If no hard sand can be found, maneuver your vehicle to face down a small dune before you come to a full stop. When it comes time to start sand driving again, gravity will help you overcome getting bogged down.
Re-Check Tire Pressure
Oftentimes while sand driving you will find that your tire pressure will increase due to the ambient heat increasing and the increased friction between the sand and your low pressure tires. Re-check your tire pressure after about an hour of driving to keep them in the optimal range, especially if you get bogged down. Increased or high tire pressures is the number one reason you’ll get bogged down in the sand.
Don’t Spin Your Tires!
When you start to get bogged down, get your right foot out of it! If you are not moving, spinning tires will only dig you a deeper hole to get out of. Don’t spin the tires, and instead employ sand driving tips 7, 9, and 10; keeping your revs low.
When you get bogged down, hop out of the driver’s seat to assess the situation. Often times you can take your hand or shovel to push aside the pile of sand in front of or behind your wheels making your progress difficult. If you have not followed tip 8, you might have a bit more sand removal to do. Clear sand away from your axels, bumpers, or anything preventing you from freely moving.
Getting bogged down is inevitable, and I like to say you’re not actually sand driving unless your getting stuck. The simplest way to get free from a bog down in soft sand is to reverse out. You know how the sand is behind you, you just compacted it with the weight of your 4×4, so take advantage of that. A super sand driving tip is to select normal/high 4×4 when reversing. Reverse gear is already very low and low 4×4 gears make this combination very low and slow. High 4×4 gears along with your reverse gear allow you to make a little more speed to keep up your momentum.
Saw the Wheel
When driving out of a bog with low revs in reverse, give the sterling wheel some left and right inputs. This back and forth motion will increase your traction slightly allowing you to rise out of the bog down and start moving better.
It’s not comfortable, destroys the environment, and increases risk of damage to your vehicle. Avoid it if you can.
Why else do you go sand driving? Forget about risk of damage to your vehicle, in Oman it’s cheap to fix vehicles. Think of it as a tax for sand driving in Oman. Just get out there and have fun.