Updates and Trips

This page will contain trip details and updates not included in the various pages on the site.  Content will be more 'entertaining' than the news and reviews.

Website format change
Updated : 28/9/2010

It has been a while since the last format change so I've done another. No CSS just yet and reediting old and adding new content when available.

The Beach 3 - How to you drive on sand ?
Updated : 22/9/2004

Well, after a few more trips I think I've got it down pat. This type of 4wd I feel is the best as you can't actually damage the body - unless you try to do jumps that is... That's another story.  Read below for the learning process !

Remember to give that the car a good soaking and pressure hosing when done.

The Beach 2 - How to you drive on sand ?
Updated : 22/2/2004

After a few more goes at the beach and finally actually seeing an article in the 4x4 magazine I managed to sort the How part of the question! 

So as you can see by the pictures my trip to the beach was after a very dry period.  Hence the very soft and deep nature of the sand !  Yep I picked the worst time, for a beginner to attempt driving on the sand. To be honest it speaks highly of the car its self that I managed to not damage the drive gear! I made 3 trips over the first weekend.

Although happy with the learning process I still wasn't happy overall - as you can guess by part 1 of this article.  Mainly because others made it look easy whilst I still occasionally got stuck, but always managed to recover - thankfully.

Anyway the next month I gave it another go and what a difference !  You see - by chance it rained during the week and what do you know the sand was all compacted.  Sure there where soft bits but in the main the sand was not as soft. Most of all didn't get stuck at all !

This gave me a chance to test out a few things. One of which is that you do not need to use the brakes.

If going down a dune just shift to a lower gear. Easy isn't it! The SGV has low range which is a bonus so it basically crawls down without sliding problems.  

I saw a few others obviously new drivers getting stuck at the toughest stage, entering the beach. They said they alright so what can you do ? 

I was on a roll didn't get stuck at all. I was using low range most of the time but my gear changing was much faster this time too so when I was testing out high range 4WD I didn't get stuck either !

In low range I recommend taking off after stand still in 2nd. I never touched 1st when in low range except for steep descents.

I was using the 18psi tyre pressures which I thought worked quite well !

The Beach 1 - How to you drive on sand ?

Having only ventured once on the beach via a organised tour I wanted to have a drive on the beach on my own. So I gave it a go. Pity didn't get off to a very good start !

Opps ... I did it again ! - got bogged in sand.

Picture above : I was trying out sand driving and thought it was safe cause it was far from the beach.  Didn't bring any recovery gear. Huge thank you to the man in the white Landcruiser for the tow out

Lesson 1 : Don't even think about 3 point turns soft sand.

Picture above : The next day was more promising.  Although got bogged yet again before the dunes, it was because I going way too slow in the sand - less than 20kph going up a dune.  I think the pressures where low enough - 15psi. (Is this too high still ?)

Finally made it past the dunes, after nearly cresting over a dune into a swamp. arrgh! and reached the old wreck.  Looks it but did not get bogged here !  The best speed to go was 30kph.

Lesson 2 : You never know what's behind a dune.

Lesson 3 : Need momentum and some speed and the right gear what's the right combo - I don't have a clue.

Lesson 4 : Need shovel.

Lesson 5 : Travel with someone else if possible.

Anyone with sand driving tips please send. eg what the best gear, pressures etc...

I was using Low range 4WD in 2nd and 3rd.   High range seemed too high ! - heh heh.

Anyway managed to get to Anna Bay without further problems on the beach so everything turned out fine.

I wonder how the other cars manage to make it look so easy, especially starting again after stopping ? I need help ! 

Engine performance

I have noticed another change in engine performance as it once again frees up.   Noticed at about 40,000kms the engine characteristics have changed for the better.   It has become noticeably free revving and certainly feels like a proper 2.0 litre engine.  Much more car like in its feel (though still coarse/trashy in sound only) and makes driving a whole lot better.  The smooth idle is still there which makes stopping a traffic lights a pleasant experience.  Still not as smooth as the V6 when revving though.  But at least the vibes don't flow through the to the steering wheel or body so its refined in this regard.

Tyre/Tires for the Grand Vitara

After 30,000ish Kms I decided to get new tyres.  The OEMs where Bridgestone Duelers HT.  However the replacements are Goodyear Wranglers HP - All Weather '04 version.  The Duelers still had tread left, at least 5000km but since I'm off travelling again I got new ones.

There aren't that many choices for 4WD tyres for this type of vehicle in Australia so I'm glad I found a new version !  Note : I deliberately chose all-purpose tyres rather than off-road biast.

Goodyear Wrangler HP All Weather (Current) Vs Goodyear Wrangler HP (Old) Review : The difference between the old Wranglers and the new Wranglers is clearly noticeable in the tread pattern.  The old ones had 4 tread lines whilst the new ones have 5.  So remember that this review is for the NEW model.  (Besides the old Wranglers didn't come in this particular size.)  Check the Australian Goodyear site for more details AND pictures.  I'm not going to provide a link because this is intended to be a non-commercial site and I certainly don't get paid.

Goodyear Wrangler HP All Weather Vs Bridgestone Duelers HT Review : Off the wheel the immediate difference between the 2 is that the Wranglers clearly have a thicker and harder construction.  The Duelers seem balloon like compared to the Wranglers. The Wranglers are also visibly wider !  The price of the Wranglers worked out cheaper.   Less than $200 AUD.  Duelers were priced around $240 AUD.  (Back in '03)

(I didn't expect much due to price but as you will read - I was more than happy)

So what's it like to drive on ? Again the difference is clear.  The Duelers when pumped to the same pressures and driven the ride is very much harder !  Ie. driving on solid tyres.  The Wranglers are clearly the opposite hence noticeably superior !  Despite higher pressures the ride is smoother.   Eg. at 34psi the ride is equal to the Duelers at 26psi.  There is also less body roll in roundabouts !

When new, small but frequent undulations on the road cannot be felt on the Wranglers and most of all running over the reflectors on the road where barely noticeable in feel and noise - excellent really.

So the verdict so far :

Ride comfort winner : Wrangler HP
Wear winner : Wrangler HP
Quietness winner : Equal
Handling Dry winner : Wrangler HP
Handling Wet winner : Wrangler HP
Off-Road winner : Equal
Dry Braking : Wrangler HP
Wet Braking :  Wrangler HP
Price winner : Wrangler HP
High Speed Stability : Wrangler HP

I'd like to note that I am very impressed with the HPs in the wet.  (After 14,000kms).  They impart a more secure feel and good grip whether braking or cornering, noticeable much better than the originals. (Wet braking improvement is significant and worth the extra note !)

I have noticed recently (August '04) that the edges of the tyres are scrubbing hence I presume its time for a wheel alignment.

Note :

- I have recently discovered that the suspension height on cars in general are not exactly level on all sides. Its actually dependent on the general camber of the roads in your country.  n Australia the roads are generally sloped to the left.  Hence the right of the car is lower than the left. Funny huh ?

- I must add that I have also found that all Suzuki's to have a characteristic sound. I described it akin to a 'bag of bolts' sounds.


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This site went live during January 2003.