How many times have you heard, I would never take that big, beautiful vehicle into the bush to get scratched.” The reason not to take them into the bush has just vanished – Literally. An elastic, plastic sheeting called VPS (vehicle protection shield) is the answer. I tried it on my Land Cruiser and after numerous trips through the Kalahari, the bodywork is as pristine as it was when I bought the vehicle ,this remarkable product can be applied to any bodywork area: For a 4×4 used in conditions where stones may chip and thorn bushes are likely to scratch, I suggest paying particular attention to the front roof supports, front fender, doors and the leading edge of the bonnet. Once applied, it vanishes. It is clear, is guaranteed not to fade and dust falls off it faster than it does on nude paintwork, so the vehicle appears to stay cleaner for longer. It also protects against vandalism and careless shoppers in car parks. Not cheap, but will add considerably to a vehicle’s resale value. A really impressive and practical product. (www.vpsprotection.co.za) Beware of some copies: Many product are out there making the same narrow sheets, which looks terrible.
Radiator grille grass nets
When you travel over grassland, fit a protective net over the radiator grille, but know that most grass seeds find their way to the radiator from underneath, not straight ahead. A grille net should prevent grass seeds choking the radiator and the resultant overheating. This includes the inter cooler radiator. Fine plastic mesh used to make swimming pool scoops work well when layered double and shade cloth also works well. one-size-fits-all grille nets sold in 4×4 stores are sometimes not particularly effective because they do not go low enough. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: Because grille nets severely restrict the passage of air to the radiators inefficient air-conditioners, extreme under-bonnet temperatures, damage to batteries and engine damage result when a grille net hinders airflow when traveling at high speeds and high power settings. If the vehicle could run as efficiently with the restricted air-flow caused by a grille net, the manufacturers would have fitted smaller radiators and saved on costs. Your vehicle needs every bit of airflow it can get when moving. I recommend taking grille nets off at speeds over 60Kph, especially on hot days. Vehicles towing trailers in thick sand should only fit a grille net if absolutely necessary, even if speeds are low.
Seat covers and interior protection
The way I see it, seat covers are intended to perform two functions: Improve comfort and protect the seats. Comfort is 100% subjective, si I am not going to say another thing. But protection is not. I believe priorities in this regard are as follows: 1. They must be waterproof to be effective. Water-resistant is not enough. 2. they must be washable and must not shrink when machine washed. #. They must be tear-resistant and if they are cut, the tear should not easily spread and repair should be easy. 4. They should look nice and not attract dirt. There are several seat cover manufacturers in South Africa and I have experience with three of them: Takla, Melville and Moon and Escape. Of them the Takla canvas look-alike cover called CanTech fits all these priorities the best and I can highly recommend them.
Mud flaps both look good and protect the vehicle and trailer. Vehicle manufacturers, all of them , put horrible, feeble flaps that do not do a very good job. Mostly they are too small and when they are a reasonable size, like on a defender, they are made of material so thin that the rushing air blows them out of the way. Making your own flaps is easy. use conveyor belting or heavy rubber matt about 1-1,5 cms thick. Cut it with a utility-knife and make some simple aluminum strips as mounts. Simple, effective, cheap.
Water tanks and jerrycans should be locked with small padlocks and chained to the roof-rack if a loaded safari equipped vehicle is to be left unattended-day or night. The padlocks should be removed from the Jerrycans when driving to prevent sand and vibration from wearing the paint and damaging the locks. External water taps should also be secured by a padlock or have a shut-off valve inside the vehicle, especially in desert regions.
Many insurance establishments will not cover vehicles that travel into Third World countries. Make sure that your vehicle is covered and don’t get a nasty surprise should something go wrong far from home.