The Australian outback is considered some of the harshest terrain in the world. Traversing such a rugged landscape requires an equally rugged tow vehicle – one that can also handle all your belongings.
To ensure our car can withstand the demands of our 10-month drive around Australia, we equipped it with the top five recommended accessories for tow vehicles. Here they are.
1. Electric Brake Controller
The electric brake controller we installed has made a huge improvement to stopping distance when braking heavily. Electronic brake controllers can also be used to stop the van independently of the car in the event of ‘speed wobbles’.
2. Storage drawers and fridge slide
Given we enjoy cooking and wanted to save money by eating in, we built a drawer system and slider for the 40-litre car fridge in the back of the car. A bench has also been installed to make food preparation a breeze no matter where we are parked (see photos).
We looked at purchasing an off-the-shelf set-up, but with a price tag of over $2000 we opted to custom-make our own. The materials used to complete the task were mainly formply and marine carpet. The total cost came to $600 – well worth the savings.
We also pulled out all seats (except the front two!) to increase storage space and reduce weight.
3. Dual battery system
Installation of a dual battery and battery isolator is a must. This has ensured our car fridge and auxiliary power needs (to keep the beers cold, of course) don’t drain from our primary source of power, which is required to actually start the vehicle.
Fortunately, a dual battery system was already installed in our car; however, the system has been supplemented by portable solar panels to maintain charge.
4. Reverse camera
The reverse camera already fitted on the Toyota Prado rear tailgate has proved very useful in hitching the caravan. With this camera, it’s possible to align the tow ball and hitch with ease and without having to hear screaming directions from Court!
5. Off-road tyres and suspension lift
Tyre selection was based on the type of terrain we expected to travel on over the duration of our trip – a mixture of highways, gravel roads and serious off-road four-wheel-driving areas. The right tyre choice for us was a combination of economy on the highway and, more importantly, off-road durability and traction.
After some research, we settled on Cooper Discoverer A/T3 all terrain tyres (see image). Cooper Tires is a credible brand among those within the 4WD community.
Suspension was selected for similar reasons to tyre needs – we opted for a two-inch suspension lift with the ability to carry the required storage and towing loads.
Drew and Court are a Melbourne couple who are travelling around Australia for the next 10 months. They’ll be writing about their experiences for Without a Hitch, giving us the real story of life on the road.
In their next article, Drew & Court will explain how they went about selecting caravan modifications for the big lap.