It is hard to truly describe that feeling after you drive away in your new car and the road opens before you – you could drive anywhere, from just cruising around the city to hitting the open road.
And while the choice of where to go is yours to make, you have to remember that driving in and around Australia can be a challenge as you can be exposed to almost every road condition imaginable.
While much of where you go is determined by the type of car you bought. If you bought a new car you know doubt have everything you already need, but if you chose a used car, make sure it is equipped with all the features and accessories you need. Knowing what your car can and cannot do will make your life easier and help you get the most out of your road adventures. Better yet, talk to our experts at Brian Hilton Toyota to learn more about your car's capabilities. Also, remember that driving conditions vary between states and road conditions change dramatically as you get further away from major cities.
City and Highway Driving
Just like anywhere in the world, major cities in Australia can be swamped by traffic, particularly during peak hours. During bank holidays and long weekends, highways and freeways can become congested when. Remember, to always follow the speed limits, especially in school zones.
Country Australian roads are usually filled with gravel and sand, if not with two-lane undivided sealed asphalt roads. To avoid skidding and having stones hit your windscreen, slow down at all times. Remember that stones roll under the tyres, making it harder to drive as the tyres can lose traction if you drive too fast.
Before passing through creeks and other bodies of water, check on the situation and find the area with the shallowest path. When staying in the NSW, Southern Queensland, and Victoria mountains, expect frosty evenings that cause fuel to freeze. As the day warms up, the engine will run normally as diesel slowly liquefies again.
Watch out for corrugation, rutting, and washouts anywhere in the outback. Take warnings seriously as uneven surfaces, potholes and gravel and sand can be very dangerous. If the road is dusty, be sure to keep a safe distance between you and the car in front.
Always respect no entry / road closure signs. There might be an existing danger or road damage ahead. Remember to check your car’s air-conditioning system as temperatures can get extreme during the day. Bring a lot of water, extra fuel and other food and survival needs.
One of the sights that makes Australian roads so unique are all the animals you can see. You might see kangaroos hopping on the road or emus running across. Add to that the rabbits, cattle, horses, and feral camels you might pass. Be extra vigilant of these animals during dawn, dusk, and night-time when they are more active and less visible.
Should you encounter an animal stuck on the road, startle them with your car horn. Switch your headlights on briefly to push them into moving away from the street. In addition, stay alert and be prepared to hit on the brakes because sometimes, these animals do not know how to react to headlights and horns. However, if you are left between swerving to avoid the animal or hitting the animal to maintain control, the latter is the better choice.
Driving in the Snow
If you intend to visit the snowfields of Victoria and NSW, make sure that your car is properly maintained—the cooling system should have anti-freeze, the windscreen washer bottle full and with methylated spirits, the tyres inflated and up to scratch. Ensure that your lights are working well; you will need them during foggy situations. Opt for winter-grade fuel as you near the snowfields as they are designed to reduce waxing when put in freezing-cold conditions. And oh, don't forget to carry snow chains! They help a lot in gripping ice as you pass through a snow-filled road.
Driving in the Sand
As Australia is a large country of beaches, sand dunes, and deserts, you need to know how to drive in the sand. There are two vital things to remember: low tyre pressure and maintaining momentum.
Low tyre pressure is important because the low pressure improves the tyre's footprint, thereby lowering the risk of sinking in the sand; and increases traction. Always keep you tyre deflator, air compressor, and shovel ready should anything go wrong.
As you approach a dune, choose a third or fourth low gear. DO NOT ever change gear when ascending as you will lose momentum and you will not be able to reach the top.
Driving During Wet Season
The north of Australia experiences wet months between November to March. If you plan to drive to during this time up there, make sure that your car is well prepared. Your goal should be to see clearly and make sure you can be seen by other drivers. Check on your signal lights, headlights, taillights, and brake lights.
Driving During Hot Season
With the extreme heat, expect overheating and tyre blowout. Should the former happen, pull over right away and let the engine cool down before proceeding. To avoid tyre blowouts, check your tyres regularly as hot weather causes the air inside the tyres to expand, making it prone to blowout especially during heat waves.
Whether you have a brand-new or a used Toyota, caution and safety should always be your top priority. After all, you want to keep you and your family safe and your vehicle in tip-top shape.