Driving On Sand Dunes: Tips and Tricks

There’s nothing quite as thrilling as conquering a sand dune, but there are some deadly consequences to approaching the hills without proper preparation.

If you want to tackle the dunes, heed these golden rules to stay safe.


Not as dangerous as it is inconvenient, sinking into the soft sand and bogging is one of the biggest thrill-killers of beach and desert driving. To avoid this you’ll want to lower the pressure in your tyres. This disperses the immense weight of the 4WD across a larger area and prevents your tyres from sinking into the fine sand. The recommended tyre pressure to go by is 16-18 psi.


Important for flat sand driving and dune driving, keeping momentum up and stopping only when safe is the key to a great time. While maintaining tyre pressure is important, it is not the cure-all for your sandy problems. Finding opportune times and places to stop are just as important for staying above the sand. Not stopping on inclines and stopping on declines are a good start, and a nice run up to a dune is a great way to climb that goliath you’ve always had trouble with.


A certain amount of speed and momentum is important for a successful climb, but awareness is just as important to help keep life and limb. Slowing down is recommended towards the apex of a dune for a number of reasons. First and foremost, flooring it at the apex will most likely result in a few seconds of hang time followed by a short and potentially fatal fall. On top of this, caution is needed at the top of a dune as the few seconds of looking skyward creates a huge blind spot and makes approaching vehicles and pitfalls that much more dangerous. Sand flags attached to the car are highly recommended as they’ll alert other cars to your position.


The golden rule for dune driving is to always go straight up and straight down. If you’re ever thinking of hitting the dunes, always remember to only ever drive straight on the dunes. The unstable sand coupled with the top-heavy nature of 4x4s will lead to turns on a dune becoming deadly. If you want to keep your car in one piece, never cross a side slope or turn when on a dune.

So now you’re ready to hit the beach or track through the desert. This guide may sound scary, but with some precautions sand dune driving really is a blast!
This article was originally posted by 4X4 Australia.

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Comments 1

  1. One very important rule I belief is a must follow before entering dunes for a play. Is get to know them and check that the back side or other side of the dune has not been blown out before you happily drive over the top of it!! I have very nearly lost some goods friends from them not doing this, they managed to stop just in time before hitting a 120foot near vertical drop on the other side of a dune north of Jurien Bay in WA

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