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  Is low range necessary for a south american road trip ?

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jayjay
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PostSubject: Is low range necessary for a south american road trip ?    Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:58 am

Hi everyone,

We are a couple from france planning a one year road trip around south america. We are now in the planning stage and are struggling to create a shortlist of good vehicles for such a trip. I m no expert in offroad driving (i will take a class before leaving though), so i don't expect that we will be going for hardcore off roading, but i suspect we will be driving on unpaved roads or not too technical offroads (for instance getting to the uyuni salar or in the national parks of the andes).

My question is whether low-range is a requirement for such a trip ?

Our options seem to be limited to the likes of land cruisers, pajeros, and patrols if we want to tick this box. On the other hand, it seems that there are a lot more options, and cheaper ones too, if the vehicle only has 4wd.

I would appreciate your opinion and advice on makes/models, particularly if you have atually been on a trip in the region...

Thanks a lot
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Tom Mc
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PostSubject: Re: Is low range necessary for a south american road trip ?    Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:26 am

Hello - welcome to the forum! cheers

South America is not part of the world I am familiar with, but of what I do know about the continent, it is very doubtful if you would need low range for the vast majority of the time. In most circumstances, a 4WD without a low box would be adequate. BUT ... and here's the big thing, a little moisture can alter the terrain instantly. Even mist or low cloud can turn a track into a skating rink, let alone actual rain. Mountainous regions in particular can be deadly in the wrong vehicle.

Personally, as I have been around 4x4 vehicles since the early 1980's, I would always have a 'proper' 4x4 with a low ratio transmission and good ground clearance as it gives you so many more options - the ability to climb/descend with a far better degree of safety being just one of many.

A capable 4x4 lets you explore way beyond that of a 2WD vehicle. A 4x4 (without low range) is obviously a lot better than a 2WD car/van, but if you can afford it (and I would suggest you have to), then a Landcruiser, Pajero or Patrol is definitely the way to go. Personally, I wouldn't go exploring in anything less.

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jayjay
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PostSubject: Re: Is low range necessary for a south american road trip ?    Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:20 am

Hello Tom,

Thanks for your quick reply. Are there any other models that you would consider fit for the job?

Thanks again
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Assassin
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PostSubject: Re: Is low range necessary for a south american road trip ?    Wed Jan 02, 2013 11:58 am

Second Toms description about it becoming very slippery very quickly, but the inverse can also apply, when it gets very hot the ground can dry very quickly and large holes or cracks can appear which leaves lots of deep holes and humps. Low range is very useful here, so I would say yes get a vehicle with low range and learn how to use the system properly.

Avoid the 4X4 pick up's which are popular in that part of the world, they are often too light on the back end and can spin easily in wet conditions.
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maadmaan10
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PostSubject: Re: Is low range necessary for a south american road trip ?    Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:47 am

WELCOME. I have been the lucky owner of a 4WD car WITHOUT low range...and while it did some amazing stuff...I would NOT undertake South America without low range. As Tom has already said, might not need it but...the climate in that part of the world can produce dramatic changes in a matter of moments!!!

You also have not said what SIZE of vehicle, ie SWB (with a trailer?) or LWB etc. Will you be carrying roof tent etc....a lot of things (weights) like that can make the need for a low range neccessary.

Methinks that a LOT of thought needs to go into your vehicle choice. However, it is also wise to stick to one of the BIG names in order to ensure parts availability. For example, Land Rover and Toyota parts are available almost anywhere in the world. Closely followed by Mitsubishi and Nissan.... start taking unusual or rarely seen vehicles and if/when you need parts you will be in trouble. And rest assured, a year in South America....you WILL need some parts!

Having said all that, don't be put off. It is a VERY interesting part of the world!!

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Jas
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PostSubject: Re: Is low range necessary for a south american road trip ?    Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:55 am

I'd say that it's important to have a transfer case with hi & low.
From experience it can be less strainful on the vehicle. And a lot safer

A friend of our drove up a slight gradient into a wet field on a camping site. Fully laden the Awd rav4 had to make a few attempts to get up. Due to the higher speed the vehicle was in less control and could have become dangerous.
Myself in a Terracan which has a duel range transfer case was similarly loaded upwith equipment. No problem for me.

Jas

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