Driving Dirt Roads in a Hire Car


Probably true to say that most of today’s modern vehicles are able to travel dirt roads, however… it’s not true to say that all rental vehicles are able to be driven on dirt roads .

There are many ads online and on the TV spruiking the capabilities of SUVs and 4 wheel drives in off road situations but to my mind if your travelling the real outback, the more basic the vehicle the better.

Although there are many options available through mainstream hire companies, not all hire car companies allow you to travel on dirt roads … choose your Rental Vehicle Company carefully and choose the right vehicle for the trip.

Complete Ute and Van Hire vehicles are not only allowed on dirt roads and off the bitumen, but we encourage it!  There’s some amazing country out there and well worth the drive.

Here at Complete Ute and Van Hire, there is a range of 4 wheel drive vehicles to suit most applications. Open trays, such as the 4WD Toyota Landcruiser Traytop, give you the most carrying capacity.  Four Wheel Drive Dual Cabs with canopies ensure the gear you are carrying is protected from the elements along with five seats to accommodate the whole family.  4WD Wagon choices include the basic design Toyota Landcruiser 70 Series with vinyl floor and vinyl seats or if it’s comfort you’re looking for … the Toyota Prado ticks that box.

Every four wheel drive model available for hire on Complete’s fleet has been chosen with simplicity, and reliability in mind.  Personally I think there’s only one thing that needs to be changed upon new vehicle delivery, that being tyre style.  Whether you hire or buy yourself a 4 wheel drive, consider a tyre change. The Toyo Open Country tyre is our off road tyre of choice. 

While on the subject of tyres, correct tyre pressures are an interesting subject and if you were sitting around a camp fire with a group of seasoned travellers you would get plenty of different ideas.  My suggestion … speak to the locals when you can!  They are familiar with the local road conditions and have the knowledge. Start with the staff at the local shop or service station.

As a starting point … consider 30 psi on rough roads, and on soft sandy tracks as low as 15 psi … but again, given the many outside influences and variable road conditions … there is no textbook tyre pressure.

When planning your trip take in to account the road conditions you might encounter and leave yourself plenty of time to slow down and take it all in. My suggestion is to work on calculating your dirt road portion of the trip at 80 kms per hour maximum.  Also consider the time you might spend stopping to take time out to appreciate the sights and sceneries that don’t appear on a travel brochure.  Some of the most fascinating things only happen if the timing is right!

If you’re travelling slow enough to stop safely, pull over to the side of the road for a close up look at a Wedge tailed Eagle, they sit still if you’re quiet and are usually found in pairs.  It’s amazing how many animals you will see if you take the time.  You don’t have to be a geologist to stop and take a walk over iron stone fields or sand dunes … and you don’t have to be a small animal specialist to admire the hundreds of tracks and diggings that litter those same dunes either.

Any faster than 80 and you risk hitting potholes and cattle grids at a speed that damages tyres and generally increases the risk of losing control.

Personally, I would much rather slow down and take in the remoteness than being stuck on the side of the road, swatting fly’s, having to change a tyre.

If you do nothing to tyre pressures and are unfamiliar with dirt road travel … do one thing to stay safe … SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY  (not a bad life lesson either)