Do you turn up at your destinations looking like a stunt extra from Mad Max? I know I do sometimes: After a bit of dirt road driving, my Defender leaves me dustier than the morning after a B&S Ball. New 4X4s are much better in this department, but aren’t always perfect. Here are some tips to keep your dust ingress to a minimum.
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Check your seals
Your main lines of defence against dust ingress are your seals: Ideally, when you shut a door, these seals form an almost impermeable barrier against dust, and even water. But, if they are tired or damaged, they will allow dust to get in. It only takes a small gap, as well… large volumes of air will funnel through a small gap, bringing dust with the air.
When your 4X4 has got a few full moons under its belt, it’s not just the seals you have to think about: Doors, latches, strikers and hinges all get a bit loose and out of whack as time goes on. So if you’ve got excessive dust ingress for your doors, investigate how they are hanging… so to speak. Pay special attention to your rear door(s), especially if it has a spare mounted on it. These are most likely to rattle loose, and often cop the most in terms of dust.
If you’ve got an old 4X4 with flaps and vents, use them when you’ve got clear air ahead of you. What this does is pressurise your cabin slightly: That air that comes in through the front flaps is trying to escape via doors and seals in other parts – making it much harder for things to get in.
If you’ve got a modern 4X4, use your air-con or fan. This does the same thing: Ensure it’s sucking in nice clean air, and you can pressurise your cabin against the swirling dust towards the rear of the vehicle.
Your air-conditioning system has another trick up its sleeve here: Recirculation. This effectively makes a closed loop of air, rather than sourcing it from the outside. Use this only periodically, when you’re going through a patch of bulldust, or when other traffic has left a cloud of dust sitting in the air. You won’t have a pressurised cabin, but you can dodge the big clouds of dust without taking a massive gulp.
The Forgotten Filter
Did you know a lot of modern 4X4s have a filter element that filters air coming into the cabin? If you don’t know when yours has been changed last, it’s probably worth throwing in a new one (or at least checking its condition). If you’ve got allergies, this becomes a potential lifesaver.
Drop back a bit, slow down
Nothing says ‘touring newbie’ like sitting right up somebody’s proverbial backside when you’re convoying along a dirt road. There’s a gamut of reasons why this is foolish behaviour: Braking distances, visibility and, of course: dust. Pull over for a couple of minutes. Ensure you’re still in UHF range, but give that dust a chance to settle or waft away. It’s not just about you, either. Your engine will love the lack of dust, as well. Believe me. It might also avoid a filter change, and save you a few bucks.
Words by Sam Purcell