Low Range Use

Submitted: Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 00:06
ThreadID: 9653 Views:1728 Replies:6 FollowUps:7
This Thread has been Archived

I have a 2000 Frontera which I absolutely love. At this stage the only major area I need to work on is to give it a lift as it suffers from a lack of ground clearance at times.

I live in Brisbane so we regularly go to Cooloola and Fraser and we get to most places we want to, and my wife and I have a great time.

One thing I find myself doing is using low range a fair bit in soft sand and this is mainly to compenstae for the times when our underbelly scrapes the sand. I seem to get stuck in soft sand in high four even with my tyres lowered and some momentum up.

The car is an automatic and the 3.2 litre V6 has plenty of power. Usually I will select drive in low range and tackle the very soft stuff. Once I get to firm sand I go back to high four or high two.

I suppose my question is that when using low in this situation should I select drive or say select third gear instead. Part two of my question is that should I be conscious of speeds I do while in low range as with the car being an automatic it does its own thing with gear selection.

I would be most appreciative of any advice.


Brian Beitz

Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Truckster (Vic) - Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 00:42

Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 00:42
What tires are you running, and what exact sort of pressures are you talkign about.

The Frontera is a light thing so shouldnt have too much problem with sand driving.
Momentum is the key, but spinnin the wheels too much is death!

High 4, in Drive or in a lower gear? Does it change when you are slowing and gettin stuck??

Remember some sand can be that soft that nobody can get thru...

My Auto GQ, low range, I drive it as though its in High, it changes when it wants, and just dont go stupid in it.
AnswerID: 42529

Follow Up By: Brian - Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 00:51

Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 00:51

I run Yokohama Super Diggers and when I am in soft sand I run at 20PSI.

I don't go overly fast and it does change gears properly whether in high or low range.

Yes I agree that some snad you just can't get through, so I guess the best way to go is to just keep it sensible and work within the capabilites of myself and the car. Do you reckon other than for a steep descent that it is best just to select drive and let the box selectr what gear to go to?


Brian Beitz

FollowupID: 304943

Reply By: AndrewX - Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 10:13

Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 10:13
Brian, Part of the problem is the tyres. Less aggressive tyres are best in sand as the last thing you want to do is dig hence a super digger is probably not the ideal sand tyre. I'd also try lower pressures - most certainly if you get stuck use lower to get out. I think you can go to 16psi without problems. Going from 20 to 16 was the difference between me getiing stuck or conquering "Big Red" in the Simpson desert! Remember too that raising the suspension won't make the diffs and axles any higher and they scrape long before the body does.
AnswerID: 42552

Follow Up By: Brian - Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 23:34

Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 23:34
Thanks for the info. The Super Diggers were brand new on the car when I got it so once they die I will go to a less aggressive tyre given that 99% of my offf road work is on sand.

Lower tyre pressure certainly gives some advanatge and I take your point about the suspension work.


Brian Beitz
FollowupID: 305002

Reply By: Jimmy - Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 10:21

Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 10:21
Hey Brian, I had a Terrano auto which also suffers from low ground clearance and I guess would be roughly the same size as your frontera. I found 20 PSI more than adequate for cooloola and Fraser. Never used low range at all on the sand. If it does get real soft go lower tyre pressure. I took them down to 12 PSI one day just to see the difference. It was amazing! I reckon it would have driven anything!
Start in drive and if you feel the vehicle bogging down and the revs drop below about 2500 manually downshift and keep the revs high. You really have to judge how far you have to get and how soft the sand is then get your speed, trye pressures and momentum right to make it through.
AnswerID: 42556

Follow Up By: Brian - Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 23:35

Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 23:35

Thanks for the info.


Brian Beitz
FollowupID: 305003

Reply By: Greg - Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 10:57

Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 10:57
Hi Brian

The only thing I can come up with is that this is a clearance problem unless your auto or 4wd mechanism is not working properly. A vehicle such as this with the Yokohamas at those pressure should not have any trouble on sand anywhere but in reme situations. You should not need to use low range but can if you feel the need or are towing. Lower pressuresshould not be needed except in very bad situations. Momentum is important but too much speed can be just as bad as not enough. Steady as she goes is the saying in mud or sand the trick being to have just enough momentum to make it through. This comes with experience.
AnswerID: 42562

Follow Up By: Brian - Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 23:38

Sunday, Jan 11, 2004 at 23:38
Hi Greg,

The auto seems to be working fine so I think it is clearance and me as well.

Thanks for the information.


Brian Beitz
FollowupID: 305004

Follow Up By: Greg - Monday, Jan 12, 2004 at 11:20

Monday, Jan 12, 2004 at 11:20
Brian don't be too hard on yourself. Even the best drivers get it wrong and often. By the way suspension travel can play a part in rough conditions such as badly scalloped sand. If your auto has a power switch it might be a good idea to try it but generally too many revs can be a negative. Also try selecting a gear and sitting on or just above your max torque. Good luck.
FollowupID: 305019

Reply By: Simon T - Monday, Jan 12, 2004 at 19:17

Monday, Jan 12, 2004 at 19:17
A question along similar lines as I had the same clearance issue in sand with my Forester at Fraser. The common suggestion is to lower tyre pressures. I understand that this will increase 'flotation'. However, dropping pressure will lower the whole car, maybe by several centremetres (try it at home). Does this worsen the problem, or does the extra flotation make up for it??? Maybe the lower tyre pressure doesn't really improve clearance, but improves traction?

AnswerID: 42704

Reply By: Member - Richard- Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 21:09

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 21:09
I have a Frontera and the major problem with sand is the petrol tank. We might as well put a grader blade in. I believe the car was designed with a petrol tank at the rear behind the axle. Where it is now is low slung in front of the axle. I raised my Frontera 50mm using TLM series 2000 suspension and winding up the torsion bars. It helps but I have since discovered better equipment from the grand old US of A. See www.calmari.com for their range of suspension stuff.

By the way how do you find the heat build up on the transmission tunnel. Mine gets upto 42 deg c at times and once hit 48 deg c. Its like having a radiator on your legs.

I found TOD useless in sand and stuck to low range top gear with minimal stick and 18 psi in the standard Goodyear Wranglers. The TOD kept cutting in and out with a bang every time traction was lost and found. Most disconcerting.Richard and Leonie, The grey nomads.
AnswerID: 43273

Follow Up By: Brian - Thursday, Jan 22, 2004 at 23:24

Thursday, Jan 22, 2004 at 23:24
Hey Richard,

Sorry for the delay in replying.

Yes the petrol tank location was a bad choice I think.

I will follow up on the suspension information.

Yes my Frontera has the same problem with heat in the transmission tunnel being extreme at times. I have had it looked at by the Holden dealer and they see it as normal for the car. Tell your left foot and leg that on a decent drive.

Thanks for the info.


FollowupID: 306285

Follow Up By: Member - Richard- Saturday, Jan 24, 2004 at 09:24

Saturday, Jan 24, 2004 at 09:24
I have now had Hunter Holden Sydney accept it is a problem and they have started to fit reflective insulation under the car. To date they have not got it right as they have only insulated above the exhaust pipe. It is slightly better but not enough. They told me to go back to them if what they did did not work. Guess what, I will be back.

I questioned the longevity of the gearbox with such high temperatures and was informed it was not a problem. I explained I had a Falcon that was fitted with an oil cooler because the car was used for towing and high temperatures would ruin the gearbox. They were insistant it was not a problem.

I did some research and found a guy who worked for GM in the UK (they have the Fronters there) and he told me that the heat problem was known to them. In the UK no one worries about it because of the cold. The V6 engine, particularly autos, are the worst.

Back to your dealer.

RegardsRichard and Leonie, The grey nomads.
FollowupID: 306412

Sponsored Links