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Old 11-11-2012, 11:01 AM   #1
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getting stuck in sand

I posted here because I want to hear from the 4X4 crowd. First off my van is not 4WD, but I go to the beach and sometimes I get stuck. What are some tricks to get out of soft sand....besides converting
the van to 4WD.

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Old 11-11-2012, 12:12 PM   #2
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Re: getting stuck in sand

Good tires, airing down, LSD rear end or a locker, Pul-Pal and a winch, or some kind of traction boards that can handle the weight of a SMB. Even then if you stick your van any one of those might not get you out even if you have a 4x4.

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Old 11-11-2012, 12:13 PM   #3
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Re: getting stuck in sand

First off lower your air pressure. I run my van at 8 psi in sand, however many LT tires won't stay on the rim that low (I have M55 tires). You can buy preset bleed-down valve stem caps to make this really easy.

Once you get stuck, some sand mats, plywood, all-weather floormats or anything to increase the tires footprint will be your friend. Carrying a pail of water can also help because you can firm up the soft sand.

If you get really stuck, be sure to have a properly-rated (Workling load limit, not ultimate breaking strength) snatch rope. Snatch ropes/straps are stretchy, and will give more yank to however is doing the yanking, and make it less likely for the to get stuck. Be sure to use positive attachment points so nothing goes flying. I like to chocker the axle on the stuck vehicle, and use the hitch pin on the rescue vehicle, so that there is no extra hardware that can become a projectile.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:57 PM   #4
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Re: getting stuck in sand

I've been stuck in sand a few times, albeit not with a van - a 4wd truck. Was able to literally dig myself out in a few minutes with my feet every time.

Best thing to do is immediately stop the wheels the second you feel them spinning. Then just dig out the sand in front and behind all four tires to the point that the tire is no longer dug in and there is a wide smooth path for all 4 wheels to drive out of. Turning the wheel back and forth will somewhat accomplish the same thing, but the path will be too steep and won't help the rear. Its simple physics really. When you stop the van will slightly sink in the sand. It gets stuck because all the tires essentially are hitting a small sand wall both in front and behind the tire after they've sunk. Dig away the wall, and make a wide flat slop to drive out of. Much easier to dig out before the tires get stuck. If it was me in a heavy 2wd van on sand I'd dig out a smooth path with my feet both in front of and behind all 4 tires every single time I parked in the sand.
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:08 PM   #5
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Re: getting stuck in sand

We stopped by in our SMB to camp with some of our race buddies who were camping and quad riding at Pismo Beach between the holidays. One of our friends gave me a few tips on how to get a heavy beast with an automatic transmission unstuck from soft sand. The technique worked like a champ!

1) (mentioned above) don't dig a hole. Once you realize your tires are spinning and the van isn't making forward progress, get out of the the throttle, RIGHT NOW! Keep spinning, and you'll just bury it to the axles, making it much, MUCH harder to get out.

2) Lower tire pressure, 4x4 low (if you have it), and in low gear. The goal is to 'pulse the throttle', rocking the wheel up and eventually the tire out of the hole. Basically, you 'romp' the accelerator to the floor, lift, romp back to the floor, repeat over and over. The interval is about 3 romps/ second, for up to 30 seconds or until it pops out (then stay in it, until you get to firmer ground). The 'romp' does something called 'flashing the torque converter', which gets it to almost lock up, at a low rpm, where the engine isn't making much torque. This is a good things, as it starts the tire turning without overpowering it and spinning it, gently applying torque to climb up the hole your are in. Lifting lets the drivetrain relax, and the tire to roll backward down to through the bottom of the hole, and partially up the backside. The next romp rolls the tire forward, through the bottom of the hole, and further up the front side of the hole with each cycle. It helps to have a spotter watch and communicate to the driver, who isn't afraid to yell STOP! if you start spinning and digging.
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