Driving a Toyota Hilux on sand: Why my car started shuddering violently

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Putting the vehicle in 4H was only digging me in further. So I switched to 4L & began to rock back & forth.

BHPian corneliu recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hi all, I am a rookie to off-roading and got into a bit of a sticky situation today.

I had decided to go driving along a beach and had aired down my tyres to 20 PSI in the morning around 8 am. However, when I actually headed out onto the beach sand at 11 am it was extremely hot and my tyre pressure went up to 25+psi while driving (I got to know this only later when I decided to deflate them some more).

I had parked my car in a stretch of soft sand (I didn't realize it was soft while parking), and when I got back to drive out I found 4H was only digging me in further. So I switched to 4L and began to rock back & forth to get some traction going out, but I found that when the revs exceeded 3k the car started shuddering quite violently. I think my front tyres might also have been turned at that time as I was trying to turn my way out. As soon as this happened I got my foot off the throttle. Eventually, I did get the car out, but I was curious to know the reason for this shuddering.

Some of the tyre tracks seem to indicate it might be something called wheel hop which involves traction being repeatedly gained and lost and is possible for high-pressure tyres in sand. Is my assessment correct? If so what causes this in a sand environment and how can it be avoided? Also, I believe wheel hopping can be catastrophic for the transmission, and although the car is running fine, are there any checks I need to do? Any advice is much appreciated, thanks!

Pictures attached below for reference:


I was driving a Toyota Hilux with IFS in front and a live axle in the rear.

Just managed to extract the video from my dashcam.

Here's what BHPian ashivas89 had to say about the matter:

If it was a car with a live axle, then it was very likely an axle tramp. If so, a one-off occurrence should not wreck the transmission in principle.

Was it something like this?

Here's what BHPian shankar.balan had to say about the matter:

This is one reason why it's useful to have one more pal with you in a 4WD for recovery purposes if need be. The other thing you would be well advised to buy or else get fabricated and carry with you is a pair of sand ladders.

Here's what BHPian HappyWheels had to say about the matter:

From the image, the sand does not look very soft, so 20 PSI should not have been an issue unless you had a fully loaded vehicle that weighed it down.

Next time, go down to anywhere between 13 to 15 psi. Just don't try to do donuts at this pressure.

Here's what BHPian tsk1979 had to say about the matter:

This is hopping. It happens with any vehicle. More to do with power delivery + suspension geometry etc., On sand, it happens when you have overinflated tires. So your tire is getting grip and losing it immediately. It can also be seen on dragsters.

Lower to 10-12PSI in sand and give low throttle inputs and you would be out.

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