Newbies Guide to Off-Roading with Dane Pettingill

Newbies Guide to Off-Roading with Dane Pettingill

May 02, 2019

The chance to ask a pro buggy driver for 4×4 advice isn’t something that comes around every day. So, when one of our new BEDROCK Floor Liner crew said he knew a guy on the Australian circuit, we had to jump all over it.

Based in Tasmania, Dane Pettingill is said guy. And he’s pretty wild.

Pettingill takes his mod V8 buggy over boulders the size of small houses and through stupidly extreme environments with just a rollover cage and seat belt for safety. Seriously, keep reading through to see some pictures (sorry, the pics are low quality but they do show you how crazy it gets).

Like most professional drivers, the taste to perform at the highest level starts far more simply. So we took him back to the beginning, before the extreme driving, and asked him for advice the newbie off-roader would need. Here’s what he said.

Q. If you could go anywhere in the country with a stock 4WD, where would you go and why?

Heck, that’s a tough one. If pressed for one choice I’d say Victoria high country is great spot for someone starting out. Victoria has some good views. Loads of free camping. And the range of trails is pretty good… you’ve got soft to moderately challenging so is a good place to learn.

Q. 4×4 upgrades can be expensive… do you suggest going cheap or just holding off until you can afford the higher ticket items?

Expensive isn’t always the best and cheap isn’t always good. So research and ask questions from others already off-roading like you want to get your best set up. Build it over and over in your head until you perfect what you want. Better to do it once and do it right then spend and find it wasn’t what you expected.

Q. What advice would you give someone approaching tricky terrain?

A good plan can save a lot of time and money when traversing through hard sections. This applies as much to weekend off-roaders as it does to professional drivers. Look at a hard section before driving. What is the easiest line from where you are to where you want to be? Take your time and drive smoothly. Pack rocks if needed.

Q. If you were starting from scratch, what stock 4WD would you pick, and why?

A new Hilux. The stock rear diff lock will get you through a lot of tricky spots and the auto is pretty decent at controlling pace and wheel speed. What else… lever actuated 4×4 and low range which is nice. And there’s a huge range of aftermarket parts available so it will be cheaper to maintain than straight OE parts. Many parts carry over from model to model so easier to find second hand parts if needed. They also normally run a model for about 10 years so also easy to locate replacement parts.

Q. If someone was about splash some cash upgrading their stock 4WD, what are the top 3 areas they should tackle and why?

A good approach angle winch bar and winch, top end tyres, and a rear diff lock are all essential mods to self recover. This gear will protect your car and save you getting too out of control. Deeper diff gears when fitting bigger tyres always helps get back lost power and gain more deliverability.

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