4x4 Mega World camp­fire story

When the bat­tery goes flat

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

There they were, one happy over­land fam­ily. Driv­ing a rigged Toy­ota Prado, the Kruger fam­ily* had been over­land­ing for only a few days when they landed up at a re­mote camp­site in Zim­babwe. Not that this was a prob­lem be­cause this Prado was fit­ted with al­most ev­ery over­land­ing gad­get un­der the sun.

From a fancy rooftop tent sys­tem, to a 270-de­gree awning and fancy sus­pen­sion to big mud ter­rain tyres and a winch. There was even a high-end fridge/freezer sys­tem. Un­for­tu­nately, the bud­get had run a bit short to­wards the end of the build (one has to keep some dol­lars in the bank for beer, too, of course) so the planned dual-bat­tery in­stal­la­tion was post­poned un­til suf­fi­cient fund­ing was avail­able.

The fridge/freezer ran only when the Prado’s engine ran, us­ing the stan­dard 12V charg­ing point. And it worked rea­son­ably well, the fam­ily buy­ing fresh meat and veg­eta­bles as they went along. Im­por­tantly, the beer was pretty much cold when the Prado stopped for the night.

So back to that re­mote camp­ing site in Zim­babwe. The Prado was parked, the fridge dis­con­nected from the 12V power jack, tents were pitched, and some beers were en­joyed. That evening the fam­ily all went to bed happy and con­tent; this over­land trip was just amaz­ing.

Fast for­ward to the next morn­ing. One of the Kruger sons jumped into the Prado’s cabin and re­trieved his tablet. Dad, sit­ting lazily around the camp­fire, wait­ing for his pot of mo­erkoffie to brew, re­marked: “Do you have to use that thing so early in the morn­ing?”

The young lad re­torted, his feel­ings a bit hurt: “Well, I haven’t been able to use it since yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, you know… it’s been charg­ing in the Toy­ota the whole night.”

With that, his dad’s face turned a few shades greyer. Charg­ing in the Prado? The whole night? He jumped up from his camp­ing chair, opened the driver’s door and turned the ig­ni­tion key: Click. Click. Click. The Prado’s bat­tery was ka­put, com­pletely drained by the charg­ing tablet.

Now, if he had fit­ted a dual-bat­tery sys­tem, he could have used the sec­ond bat­tery (a deep­cy­cle unit) to reroute some 12V juice back to the Prado’s bat­tery in the engine bay, and turn the starter and fire up the engine. But there was no back-up, and no rerout­ing of volts.

To cut a long story short, the fam­ily spent the next three days at the camp­site be­fore an­other ve­hi­cle came past. Jumper ca­bles were even­tu­ally tracked down, and the Prado was re­turned to life again.

The fam­ily told that story around many camp­fires on the rest of their trav­els... and that story al­ways ended with how they, at the first op­por­tu­nity af­ter this in­ci­dent, had a proper dual-bat­tery sys­tem in­stalled. Never mind that they had to have a few beers less to drink.

*Not their real name

Left: A dual-bat­tery sys­tem doesn’t add to the out­ward ap­pear­ance of your 4x4, but when it comes to over­land­ing, it’s a cru­cial bit of kit.

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