Dust is an iconic part of the Australian road trip. Coming home to a vehicle covered in red dust is the expectation and usually something that keeps finding its way into cracks months after you’ve finished your trip.

But you really don’t want dust inside your vehicle.

There are two really simple methods to keeping dust out of your vehicle – new or old.


New vehicles generally have much better seals than older vehicle, so you’re already ahead if you’ve got a newer vehicle, but in the fight against dust, take every advantage you can get! If you’ve got a ute with a canopy or an older vehicle pressurising your interior space will make a huge difference.

Pressurising the interior of your vehicle can be done via a number of ways.

outback2_sketch - Copy

Air conditioning

Keep all your windows and doors closed and turn your aircon/heat up night and high (fan speed) without re-circulation on. This will force fresh air into your vehicle ensuring positive pressure inside the vehicle which will stop the dust being sucked in.

Canopy sliding windows

sliding window ironman 4x4 canopy

Similar to the interior of your vehicle canopies including those with tubs have sealing issues – especially around the tailgates and hinges. Tub liners and a well fitted canopy will minimise gaps, but it’s important to still positively pressurise the interior. Opening the sliding windows at the rear of the canopy (built into all Ironman 4×4 canopies) by the rear of the cab will ensure fresh air is being sucked into the canopy and creating that positive air pressure that you want. It may seem counter intuitive leaving a window open that can take in dust – but if you’re leaving enough space so you aren’t in the dust cloud of the vehicle in front of you, the window should be high enough to remain dust free and the positive pressure will ensure dust isn’t being sucked in at lower points like the tailgate.



Driving in convoy is excellent for safety – but you don’t need to be right up the backside of the vehicle in front. Use your radios to maintain communication and provide plenty of space between vehicles to ensure you aren’t driving through their dust cloud and have plenty of opportunity to stop in case of an emergency. Plus you have the added benefit of avoiding any stray rocks or debris that might be thrown up by their wheels as well!


Article from Ironman4x4

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Comments 9

  1. Your tip about having the fan on high to “force” fresh air in and keep dust out doesn’t work.

    Whatever air the fan DRAWS into the car is a function of how much is lost via the leaks or the extraction vanes of the flow through ventilation the vehicle has.

    Oh, and it will draw dust inside as well, precisely what you are trying to avoid.

    The other common belief is that putting the system on recirc will “pressurise” the inside and keep dust out – well, that can’t happen either, unless somehow circulating air in a closed vessel has the ability to increase the pressure.

    To keep some dust out of the car, you have to turn the system on recirc and close all windows. But you better get used to the film of dust inside as it is not possible to completely avoid it.

    1. Quite right. Its simple science.
      You have to blow filtered air into the cabin from outside for positive pressurisation. My vehicle has this as standard. If you want to retro-fit, just find some room for an air blower (in the rear compartment, underneath or under the bonnet) and set it up with a replaceable engine air filter on the intake. Or if possible, modify the existing air blower and put an air filter on the inlet. Just remember to keep cleaning/replacing it. I have observed however, that even with a fancy cabin pressurisation system as on my vehicle, dust still gets into everything especially behind the dash and into all the electrics etc.

    2. Works very well for my vehicle (Jeep Cherokee) but my mate has a late model Pajero that sucks the dust in no matter what he does…….I think it depends on the vehicle.

      1. Also I forgot to add, when you see a vehicle coming your way, flick it to recirculation until the dust settles from the passing car.

    3. Hi

      I travel dirt roads every day of my working life and have spent many years traveling the outback of WA to service very remote communities and putting the fan on high and fresh air does work. Over the past 30 years of driving I have driven a number of vehicles from Cruisers through to trucks and while you may get a very slight bit of dust in over a month or so the majority stays out. Just don’t follow up the bum of the bloke in front – give it a few km’s gap and if someone is passing the other way then just before they go past put the air onto recirculate until the dust has cleared.
      My current Cruiser is an 80 series and with the fan on high, fresh air in and the doors and windows shut you can feel air coming out the vents behind the side back windows. This is what they are designed for. If the fan in your 4×4 can’t keep the cab pressurised I would be looking at either the fan is blocked or where all the air is escaping from, maybe door seals. If your cab is sealed properly then the doors will be slightly harder to close when the windows are all closed as opposed to when a window is open.
      A common area of blockage in older 4X4 is the evaporator in the A/C. When the A/C is working it is pulling moisture out of the air and this is the water you see under the car on the ground when you are stationary. This water also collects dirt and dust in the evaporator and turns it to mud. All of the air from the fan has to pass through the evaporator regardless if the A/C is on or off or any other settings on the heater ect. If it is blocked the fan can’t pressurise the cab properly. Using a can of A/C deodorizer doesn’t fix this problem of it being blocked. The evaporator needs to be removed and cleaned properly along with the plastic housing and drain tube. On an 80 series this should be about 4 hours start to finish including re-gassing.

  2. One trick I’ve heard of, but not yet tested, to abate some dust getting in is to spray all your door seals with WD40 (mainly made of fish oil).

  3. “A Dusty Traveller” is right.

    If your aircon is not on recycle and is sucking in fresh air, guess where it is coming from – outside the vehicle where all the dust is.

    You might indeed end up with a positive air pressure in the cabin using the fresh air setting but, you will have a cabin positively pressurised with dust.

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