Following our articles on hiking repair kits, and cycling repair kits, here’s what you’ll need to bring if you’re heading into four-wheeling country. Whether you’re cruising country roads, driving on beaches, or heading out bush, Casey Fung reckons these items are a must.


I’ll admit it… I’m a four-wheel driving enthusiast. But, as someone whose passions are hiking, camping, and restoring vintage cars, it really came quite naturally.

From driving muddy Tasmanian tracks to boggy WA beaches, and tackling the infamously rugged Kimberley tracks and deep water crossings – I have so far never been stuck with something I can’t fix or solve.

Read: How To 4WD For Beginners

I’ve been working on my own cars as long as I could drive (and motorbikes before that), but if I can do it, you can to!

So, here is what I carry and what I know.


My old adventure rig that has been everywhere once or twice

Recovery Gear

The best way to avoid an embarrassing rescue is by carrying a few bits of key recovery gear in the car whenever you’re on an off-road trip.

Recovery Tracks

These are the two or four bits of plastic that you often see proudly displayed on the big rigs. They’re not too expensive and they’ll get you out of most sticky spots.

There are plenty of videos online showing how to use them – but in a nutshell you dig them under your stuck tyres and drive out – it’s a miracle.


Well and truly stuck – the recovery tracks got me out of here

Snatch Strap (Tow Rope)

If the recovery tracks don’t work your next best friend is a good bit of (very strong) rope, known as a snatch strap.

Note that this is different to a static tow, and you will need proper strength-rated recovery points to do this safely. As the name suggests, the tow vehicle will get a run up and ‘snatch’ you out of the hole by using its weight and momentum to yank your vehicle.

This is dangerous if you do it incorrectly, so watch some videos and practice before doing it. Luckily there is almost always someone around with knowledge and gear, who will be stoked to show-off their truck’s pulling power.


Proper rated recovery points for attaching a snatch strap

Tyre Pressure Gauge and Air Compressor

While this is not technically recovery gear, it’s so fundamental for not getting stuck that I reckon it belongs in this box.

I cannot believe how many people I’ve seen get stuck on beaches, or wreck their tyres or even parts of their vehicle on rough corrugations, all because they didn’t air down their tyre pressure correctly.

Think of your tyre as a bag. The less air in it, the wider and longer the tyre tread becomes, giving it more surface area and therefore more potential for traction. It also will make the ride softer on dirt roads and the chance of a puncture much lower.

To air down your tyres you’ll need a gauge with a deflate function. The air compressor is so you can air up again when you hit the tarmac.

Everyone has their own theory on how they run their tyres and it’s often good to ask someone just coming off the beach or track if you can – but here’s what worked for me.

On the beach I always just go down to 15psi all round, the same for rocky or muddy tracks. On a long corrugated dirt road with higher speed limits around 80km/h (like the Gibb River Road) I air down to about 28psi. You get the feel for it.


On a recent big lap of Australia, I didn’t use my winch even once over 30,000km of driving. But it’s better to have it and not need it than the alternative. If you’re in remote areas where you only see other vehicles every few days, a winch may save you.


Stuck and alone? Might be time to use the winch

UHF Radio

When all else fails these radios can allow you to call for help. UHF (ultra high frequency) radios are the go to for 4WDing as they are less likely to be interrupted by other signals and obstacles. A radio also lets you communicate to other drivers, which could lead to learning vital track or safety information.


Note: This gear only works if you know how. When I was new to it, I used to purposely go out and get stuck or just go off-roading with more experienced mates to get an understanding of what to do.

Spare Parts (Must-Haves)

Here are the spares you should be carrying in your fourbie on any overland trip or off-road adventure:

  • A full-size spare tyre (not just the little cheesecutter)
  • A puncture repair kit (I have seen people pop both spares on the same day)
  • Water for the radiator and coolant concentrate (drinking water is fine and you should carry a lot of that)
  • A portable battery jumper/charger (so you can jump start without another car)
  • Drive belts, which include alternator, power steering, radiator fan, though a lot of newer cars have a serpentine belt that drives all of these in a combo (some cars also have electric radiator fans and don’t require belts)
  • Engine oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, trans and diff fluids
  • Zip ties, spare clamps, and fencing wire (or something similar)
  • Intake air filter (these take on a lot of dust in the outback and easily get clogged)


Recovery tracks: not just for looks (unless you don’t know how to use them)

Spare Parts (Nice-To-Haves)

Not must haves, but I also always carry these in remote locations:

  • Radiator hoses
  • Spare fuel hose (about 3 metres long)
  • Grease for bearings and joints
  • Spare fuses and 12v wiring (a few metres in various gauges)
  • Spare wheel bearings (depending on the vehicle)
  • High lift jack (it looks cool on the car, but I’ve never had to use one)

Tool Kit

Of course with all these spare parts in your car, you need the tools to fit them.

The standard socket and spanner kits from your local shops are pretty good, but make sure you get some of the specific tools you’ll need for stuff like wheel bearings or other serviceable parts on your vehicle.


Changing a punctured tyre on a steep 4WD track – we forgot our high lift jack

Most 4WDs also have larger nuts and bolts than sedans, usually up to about size 26. Off the shelf ‘4WD tool kits’ will have everything the average person needs and the cheap ones are actually pretty good. These should also include useful things like pliers and a hammer.


A Mutlimeter

A vital tool to carry to diagnose electrical issues – particularly to tell the difference between a bad battery, bad alternator, bad earth, or other wiring issues.


A Scan Tool

A must on any car with an OBD2 port, which is generally cars manufactured post-2000. These give you the ability to simply plug in and scan for faults. This is particularly useful in cars with lots of sensors that give similar symptoms for things like a bad MAF (air-flow metre), old oxygen sensors, or broken throttle/cam position sensors. So instead of messing around diagnosing a problem for hours, simply scan away.


Workshop Manual

If you’re new to home-mechanic-ing or your vehicle has some specific method to its repairs and maintenance, a workshop manual is vital for repairs. A good one will have exploded diagrams and step-by-step procedures for servicing and maintenance.

Know How

I’ve often been surprised by how many people leave on remote trips without knowing much more than how to change a spare wheel – and I’ve helped change a few of those.

The best offence is defence, so get prepared!

Knowing the fundamentals of an engine and drivetrain is more useful than any of the above. Without it, most of the kit is useless.

Identifying the components on your vehicle and the function they provide is also ideal, as they look similar and function the same in all cars. Also, learn the common faults and fixes on your particular vehicle. Forums are your best friend.

The difference between knowing the fix or not might be hours compared to days stuck on the side of the road, or an expensive tow to the mechanic hundreds of kilometres away.

At the end of the day, you’ll be fine. While they might like to look intimidating in their giant, noisy, off-road rigs, I have never met someone out in the bush who wasn’t keen to chat cars, share knowledge, and always be willing to lend a hand with any problem.

Get out and give it a go!


Check out our 4WD page for all kinds of off road adventures!


A lot of great places you can only get to with a 4WD