When You Nearly Roll Your Vehicle

When You Nearly Roll Your Vehicle

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Google Plus, this image will look familiar to you:

It is one of my sketchier 4wding moments, just a couple of feet from an insurance claim. I’m going to let you in on what went through my head that day, both in getting me into the situation and getting back out of it.

The hill was pretty steep, rutted out with a few wash away’s and the clay which the hill consisted of was a little damp. All are conditions I am experienced in and I’ve driven worse. It was getting on a bit in the day; and I wanted to make camp and photograph a few things before we lost the best light. Rookie error right there! Rushing things…

I tried what looked to be the easiest line first, but a tree root halted progress. There was a track to the left which looked easy; except for the middle where it tapered off close to a line full of serious ruts. I dismissed that idea making my point against it whilst trying unsuccessfully to drive through the massive washouts in the centre of the hill, which I knew I shouldn’t have even bothered trying. After a few try’s at that, I backed down the hill and pointed the wheels to the track on the left.

All went well until we hit that narrow section and the vehicle did exactly what I feared it might do. The rear wheels stayed on the track, while the front end took a slide to the right. And they slid. And slid. And slid some more for what felt like a fortnight before finally coming to a stop against the side of a rut. The action of coming to a stop bought the front left wheel into the air before settling to a perfectly balanced rest, any more and she surely would have gone over.


Now we’re really gonna be late to camp, later than if I’d have let some more air out and done a bit of track building. There was no way of driving out of this. No reversing, no going forwards thanks to a tree root in front. And besides; any movement would have set it off. Plenty of perfect tree’s around to winch from, but no winch to speak of. And while the other vehicle could have made it to the top of the hill a different route, not even three snatch straps joined together would have made enough length for a safe and gentle tow. What we did have was those 3 snatch straps and a crane sling.

Now you may know of the slingshot winching technique, where the vehicle doing the recovering is located behind the vehicle in trouble. You run the winch cable past the stuck vehicle to a tree, pass it through a snatch block and back to the front of the stuck vehicle to pull it forwards. We performed our own version of this with 3 snatch straps and a tree protector. As I reversed the Patrol down the hill, the vehicle behind me came forward, keeping just enough tension on the snatch strap to prevent that roll over. Now all we had to do was allow a little wheel spin to bring the back end around in line with the front, and do a little track building to get us down safely.

Did we eventually conquer that hill? Yes we did. Dropped the tyres to 16 psi, did a bit of track work and simply cruised on up taking the very first line I tried; and should have stuck with in the first place!


Alex Garner

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  1. 4WDing Australia
    November 14, 16:33 Reply
    I've come awfully close to rolling a few times too; its not a situation that you want to be in! Good work with the recovery!
  2. […] Dwellingup, Lane Pool Reserve and the Murray River which runs through the middle have been a favourite haunt of mine since I first got into the world of off-road vehicles and camping.¬†Problem is, I’m not the only one! And a few unpleasant experiences in a row involving drunken rowdy teenagers ripping skids next to my swag at night has seen me steer clear of the place for a while (blasting off my truck horn off in their camp the next morning was extremely satisfying by the way). But a recent mission to follow the Murray River from it’s upper reaches right down to the entry station unveiled a world of new campsites, and nearly took it’s toll on my vehicle. […]
  3. mrpete
    December 28, 12:28 Reply
    I know the feeling as I managed to put mine on its side in 2005. There were eight vehicles in the convoy and we had been on a recce trip from Muchea to the PInjar power station. I was second car in front of the other six. To get up an extremely steep incline , all of us had to lower our tyre pressures to 8 PSI. Getting up was a breeze, but going down the other side, the lead car got into problems, and that was rectified easily. So now its my turn to go down the S bend decline. Suddenly I felt the steering wheel being pulled out of my hand. All I can remember was the right front end digging in , and the left front going up the bank. The vehicle teeted on its side not making up its mind and the in slow motion it slowly rolled onto its side. I had to crawl out through the front passenger door. Every one came running to see if I was ok, - happy to report I was fine . It took one vehicle to hook the chain around the chassis and gradually the vehicle was back on its wheels, minus one tyre which had come off he rim. Back on four wheels, I very carefully turned the starter over. I say CAREFULLY as I wasnt sure if the oil had managed to seep past the rings and into the combustion chamber. Happy to say it belched out a fair amount of blue smoke. We managed to wash the dirt and sand off the bead and rim . 30 minutes later we were on our way. Damage to my vehicle ZERO not a single scratch or dent. Got home, washed the vehicle and did a more thorough examination and could not find any marks scratches or dents. I got away with it very lightly

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