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Sand dune driving techniques?

Old 09-08-2009, 03:58 PM
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Default Sand dune driving techniques?

I just got back from my first trip to Oceano Dunes OHV (Pismo Beach). Had a blast in the dunes and I learned a lot in a short time. I had one occasional sticking point that I wonder if anyone has some good techniques to avoid. On the big dunes, going up the steep side, I had a problem with the engine cutting out when getting bogged down near the top. The sand was pretty soft and I would be going pretty slow at that point, trying to get over the crest. The thing (jeep) just seemed to make some clunking noises and crap out.

I had pretty long running starts with good momentum, hitting the base of the dune at around 5000 rpm, 6th gear, Lo (rubi xfer case), pretty much max speed in Lo. Tires were aired down to about 12psi.

Any advice from the dune masters?
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Old 09-08-2009, 08:37 PM
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Went to the Dunes last month and my only question is why did you have it in 4lo? I find that you need to keep up wheel speed to stay on top of the sand and in the scenario that you wrote that would not be possible in 4lo. I find that the key to sand is to hit the obstacle in the highest gear possible and to keep wheel speed up by downshifting as you lose forward speed. The key is to crest the hill before you run out of gears. 4lo is a crawler gear and you need traction for it to work. It will work in snow though as it allows you to go slow and compress the snow as you move forward something that does not happen in soft sand.
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Old 09-08-2009, 08:50 PM
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Yeah I would run in 4hi and I allways air down to around 5psi, not sure what tires you are running but 5psi works great for me. Dunes are best if you have wide tires and lots of HP.
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Old 09-08-2009, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
Went to the Dunes last month and my only question is why did you have it in 4lo? I find that you need to keep up wheel speed to stay on top of the sand and in the scenario that you wrote that would not be possible in 4lo. I find that the key to sand is to hit the obstacle in the highest gear possible and to keep wheel speed up by downshifting as you lose forward speed. The key is to crest the hill before you run out of gears. 4lo is a crawler gear and you need traction for it to work. It will work in snow though as it allows you to go slow and compress the snow as you move forward something that does not happen in soft sand.
On the flatter sections, 4Hi seemed fine but as soon as i got into any soft sand hilly areas, the jeep would choke and stall even in 1st gear. After i shifted into 4lo, it seemed to go much better all around but the top speed was limited.
I guess i should have tried downshifting as i lost speed but i felt "too busy to downshift" at the time

Were you climbing dunes in 4Hi? How fast are you going when you hit the dune?

Originally Posted by Joe Lightfoot View Post
Yeah I would run in 4hi and I allways air down to around 5psi, not sure what tires you are running but 5psi works great for me. Dunes are best if you have wide tires and lots of HP.
the tires are the stock rubi's so they're fairly narrow. I was afraid to go to low with the psi.
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Old 09-08-2009, 09:39 PM
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As stated before, you need to air down cosiderably when running dunes. You could have skinny ass bald tires and air down to 4-6 psi and walk all over the place bigger tires with 10-12psi are getting stuck. I learned this from a 60yr old man who owned a old Sand/gravel pit we used to run our 3-wheelers(yeah, I'm old) and my CJ-5 in. He had an old willy's with bald tires and saw me stuck one day. Came over and said "you got too much air in dem tires boy" He pulled out a guage, let my tires down to 4psi I got in and litterally came outta the hole I'd just dug. Gotta listen to those old guys, alot are way smarter than you think.
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Old 09-08-2009, 09:53 PM
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I live in Dubai, my only wheeling is big sand dunes...... best thing is to keep your tyres to around 12psi, 5psi is too low as mentioned above. i usually go to 13psi and have no issues at all. no need for 4lo, so stick with 4hi in 1st and 2nd and you'll be fine, dont be affraid to use the throttle

what I usually do is approachn the steep side slowly then give it throttle, and dont back off, if you do you will stall, only back off once your at the top. the key to wheelin in sand is a smooth momentum. keep it nice and smooth you'll allow the tyre to creep over the sand, be jerky and all you'll do is dig yourself in.

back to the pressures, 5psi is too low for the reason that you will often encounter soft sand on the steep side of the dune, then when you come off the steep slope, there is risk of pulling the tyre off the rim, I have seen this many times over in the desert and its a bitch if you dont have the right equipment to get your tyre back on. if you need to go down to 5psi then you need to sharpen up your desert driving technique.



back off to soon, and drive an FJ and this is what WILL happen


Last edited by dxbjeep; 09-08-2009 at 09:56 PM. Reason: added pics
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Old 09-08-2009, 11:56 PM
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Originally Posted by dxbjeep View Post
I live in Dubai, my only wheeling is big sand dunes...... best thing is to keep your tyres to around 12psi, 5psi is too low as mentioned above. i usually go to 13psi and have no issues at all. no need for 4lo, so stick with 4hi in 1st and 2nd and you'll be fine, dont be affraid to use the throttle

what I usually do is approachn the steep side slowly then give it throttle, and dont back off, if you do you will stall, only back off once your at the top. the key to wheelin in sand is a smooth momentum. keep it nice and smooth you'll allow the tyre to creep over the sand, be jerky and all you'll do is dig yourself in.

back to the pressures, 5psi is too low for the reason that you will often encounter soft sand on the steep side of the dune, then when you come off the steep slope, there is risk of pulling the tyre off the rim, I have seen this many times over in the desert and its a bitch if you dont have the right equipment to get your tyre back on. if you need to go down to 5psi then you need to sharpen up your desert driving technique.



back off to soon, and drive an FJ and this is what WILL happen



i do front 12psi rear 10psi..and still cant move the big ass from done usually i go for 4lo..its depends how u driving in dunes and how big is ur tire modification (lifted, ratio of ring and pinion)

so for stock jk usually 4hi,,
the big ass jks 4lo,,coorect of iam wrong..
any way iam going for hemi soon,,coz u cant drive very will with stock minivan in desert if u lifted...
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by MarwanJeeper View Post
any way iam going for hemi soon,,coz u cant drive very will with stock minivan in desert if u lifted...
If all else fails buy a hemi I really dont think its gonna matter what gears your using, just go thrugh the dune
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Old 09-10-2009, 04:37 AM
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Those automatics must suck up lots of power from the motor.
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Old 09-10-2009, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by jkkat View Post
Those automatics must suck up lots of power from the motor.
I must have missed that part. I thought the OP was in sixth gear, which I assumed was a manual?

I also figured he was in 4lo to lock the axles, although going back now I don't see any mention of that.

It seems like a downshift is in order during the process, but you have to be smooth to keep the tires rolling instead of digging. (thanks dxb jeep).

The ESP type features will definately stall you out if you don't disable them while in 4 hi. I've had that happen on beaches that were cross rutted badly. Once those tires get out of sync for a couple seconds it pretty much kills throttle input on my jeep. It's not dug in, but it feels just like it. That's the pint when I remember to turn off ESP & drive on.

I really whish they would have defaulted to ESP off in 4wd mode, & let you turn it on again while in 4wd if you needed it.
It would seem to be geared towards ski resort 4wd instead of the type of wheeling they tend to show in thier advertising.\

By the way, ESP does kick ass in snow covered streets.
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