2. DiRT 4 General hints and tipsUpdate notes

The game features four (4) disciplines, Rally, Rallycross, Landrush and Historic Rally, with the latter being the same as Rally, just with older cars. We will take a look at them separately and the achievements you can unlock through each discipline.

Handling Mode

The first major selection you will have to make is the Handling Mode you prefer, Gamer or Simulation. Gamer is the easiest of the two and quite arcade. If you have played any Forza Motorsport titles, you'd know they aren't the most realistic in terms of the steering, but the Gamer handling mode in DiRT 4 will easily remind you of a Need for Speed game, as it dumbs down even the braking and the weight transfer physics in general. While it will make your life that much easier when going for some of the game's achievements, I recommend using Simulation, which is the most realistic of the two and arguably the most satisfying. Regardless of what you pick now, you can always change back and forth via the options from the main menu. Please note that you can always fall back to Gamer for the most challenging achievements, if you feel like it.


The game features a mechanic called "Your stage", which randomly generates stages. Therefore the pacenotes are more important than ever and since DiRT 4 is more accessible to the general gaming population, let's go over some of the pace notes, what they mean and how to process them. If you're a rally veteran, you can safely skip this part of the walkthrough.

  • Left/Right + number from 1 to 6: Indicates what corner comes up (left or right) and how fast or slow it is. A "Left 1" call means that the upcoming corner is a left one, and the "1" means that it is a very slow corner. On the contrary, a "Left 6" call means that the upcoming left corner is pretty close to a straight and therefore can be negotiated without braking at all in most cases. Sometimes, the call doesn't include numbers, but the terms "Square", "Acute" or "Hairpin" + the direction of the corner instead. "Square" means that the next corner is a 90-degree one, "Acute" means that the corner is super tight and will require a lot of braking as well as the use of the handbrake to swipe the car around, while "Hairpin" indicates a U-turn, where you exit the corner at the opposite direction of which you entered it. Most of the times, it will be an "Open Hairpin" + direction of the turn, meaning that it is less severe and you can carry more momentum through it.
  • Opens/Open/Tightens/Tight/Long/Breaking/Narrows: Further description of the upcoming corner. The Open/Tight calls indicate whether the width of the corner is big or small respectively. The Opens/Tightens calls indicate that the upcoming corner tightens or opens up from the initial number. For example, a "Right 3 tightens", means that the upcoming Right 3 corner, tightens to something close to a Right 2 but not quite. About half of the tightens or opens calls are followed by an actual number, like "Left 2 opens to 3", which you should tackle as two of those corners that are one right after the other. If it opens, prepare to get on the throttle when you see the apex changing, whereas be ready to brake further if the turn tightens. The "Long" call means that the corner will be significantly long, so keep the car steady all the way through it and be patient. Sometimes the corner is that long that its total length in meters is called after. A "Left 4 continues 80" means that there's a long left 4 coming up, which goes on for about 80 meters. Finally, the "Breaking" call is to... remind you to start applying the brakes after a certain point, since the next corner is a blind one or it is obscured by the stage's geometry. Finally the "narrows" call is made when the width of the corner decreases inside. Take care so that you don't clip your front against the inside of the corner as most times that's the biggest danger you'll face in this situation.
  • Deceptive/Be brave: A "deceptive" corner is one that seems easier than what it normally is. While that characteristic could be covered by a "tightens" call, the deceptive one has to do with more complex characteristics that cannot be described quickly. Contrary to that, "be brave" encourages you to tackle the corner in a more aggressive nature than what it looks like it needs. This call is rare in DiRT 4.
  • Into/Then/And: Calls that have to do with how the corners follow each other. The "into" means that there's barely anything between two corners, for example "Left 2 into Right 2", mean that as soon as you're out of the left corner you'll be into the right one. If the transition is even more sudden, the word "immediate" will be called, for example "Left 5 into immediate Square Right". "Then" is the average distance between corners, whereas "and" is the longest. You need to get some more experience on what exactly these distances are to be able to use the pacenotes in the best possible way.
  • Bump(s)/Dip/Jump/Jump Maybe/Crest: These calls have to do with surface elevation. A "bump" call is when there's a slight upward bump on the road which will unload the suspension, making you lose control of the car for a very limited time as the car goes over it. It is generally dangerous only when there's a corner being called out immediately after it, so pay attention to what else is called afterwards. The "Dip" call is the opposite of the bump and it can even help if a corner is being called "over" it. For example, "Right 5 over dip" means there's a dip inside that right 5 corner, which will usually help with the grip and make you go faster. Dips inside hairpins are the ones that can trim your stage time the most. "Jump" means that there's a sudden elevation in the road that will make the car leave the surface of the stage completely for some time, obviously making it impossible to control it while it's mid-air. Just like the bump call, it should only worry you if a corner is called immediately after it, or if you've developed a high speed when going over it. The "Jump Maybe" call means that that particular jump is not that severe and therefore may or may not make the car lose traction with the surface, depending on the speed with which you go over it. "Crest" means that the stage rises in elevation, which will hinder your vision as what lies ahead is obscured by that elevation. This is again dangerous only when corners go through them, or when you feel that you're going too fast over it. In general, when you get a "bad feeling about this", it's preferable to either lift off the throttle or get on the brakes a little bit. This will make you slightly slower but much more consistent, which in rallying is preferable any day of the week. The least important call of this type is the "bumps", which means that a part of the road features continuous bumps, making steering harder. Don't overdo it with the steering when you go over such surfaces and you'll be fine.
  • Water splash/junction: Water splashes are bodies of water that can be found in some stages. They are usually between some small poles, making the pass quite narrow and they slow you down when you go through them. You should handle them like entering a pit lane, as you need to slow down before the car comes in contact with the water or you will damage the chassis. The "junction" call is to let you know you'll be passing through a junction. This is used so you can keep up mentally with the rhythm of the pace notes and to pay a little bit of attention since junctions are usually packed with spectators and sometimes ambulances or other parked cars, so wandering off the road there will hurt you significantly.
  • Care/Caution/Double Caution: There's a hazard up ahead that requires caution and cannot be described in a few words. This includes rocks, trees, parked cars, spectator zones or simply a weird surface configuration. With Care being the least and Double Caution being the most severe call, slow down accordingly when you hear them to avoid making a big mistake. It is usually followed by what the danger is, like "Double Caution railguard outside", which means you should watch out for a railguard that's on the outside when you're coming out of the upcoming corner and will really hurt you if you hit it.
  • Keep in/Keep left/Keep right: Depending on the surface of the stage inside a particular corner, it will be advantageous to you if you "keep in" and stay as close to the middle of the road as possible. The things you avoid can either be a less advantageous piece of surface with less grip or, more importantly, an obstacle. The Keep Left and Keep Right calls are used for helping you get on the most beneficial side of the stage usually when going over bumps or jumps. The higher your speed, the more important these last two calls are. Whatever the case, these four are some of the calls that you need to follow 100% of the times you hear them, as well as the next call...
  • ...don't cut: This means that you must stick on the corner's curvature and not try to cut it through the inside to save time, as there's either an obstacle or no road at all there. This is a very important call as it's easy to follow, but can easily ruin your day if you don't respect it, so learn to respond to the situation when it's called. There's also the "Cut" call, which encourages you to cut a corner, but it's very rare if not non-existant in DiRT 4.


Throughout the Career and especially the online modes you'll need to bring your A game in order to complete certain goals and unlock specific achievements. That being said, tuning can take a back seat (no pun intended) when it comes to the Career mode, given the variety of difficulty options available. If something doesn't feel completely off, then the default setup is all you'll need for most of the time, so don't worry about it for now. At the same time and while Codemasters has pre-tuned each car for a "neutral" feel, the gearing is something you'll need to take care of and is very simple to understand even if you feel intimidated from tuning in these games. Basically, if you find yourself going through a lot of gears for most of a stage, then next time you reach a Service Area, go to the Tune Vehicle menu and then over to the Gearing tab. Move the cursor of the Final Drive towards the "Long" side (right side) and the gears will become longer, aka it will take more time for the engine to reach the top of each gear, giving you more top speed. Don't overdo it though, since acceleration is what we're after most of the time. Try moving it in 0.020 increments. If you feel you're switching gears too often again, increase the drive again, until you get to the optimum setting. Don't change it after that for any environment.


While repairing isn't expensive in DiRT 4 even from the beginning when your crew and facilities aren't leveled up, the damage model is a step up and needs to be respected. That means that suffering from any kind of damage will hinder your performance. This is especially important during long events which feature many stages. Keep your foot down when you can, but if things start to go out of hand, slow your pace down and avoid crashing hard as much as possible. Whatever the case, make sure that each time you're going to repair your car, switch over to the Inspect tab and select all four choices. Those will clean the car and allow your engineers to check out what's wrong with all three of the car's subsystems, the powertrain, the drivetrain and the chassis. This only takes up five and a half minutes out of the 30 you're allowed (without getting penalties that is) and reduces the time needed for any repair that you choose to do in the end.


Regardless of the handling mode you chose, the easiest option for the AI would obviously be the "Competent" setting. The times posted by the AI on this difficulty level can be easily surpassed by about 30 seconds per stage if you drive normally. At the same time, highest AI difficulties offer more cash, so experiment with your capabilities and pick the one where you can win each stage by the slightest margin. For the other options:

  • Auto Repairs: Off
  • Anti-lock braking system: Off
  • Off-throttle braking: Off (it offers better control of your pace when it's set to off and it will never save you from a crash anyway)
  • Automatic windscreen wipers: On (totally removes the need of a single button, offering more choices in input binding)
  • Exterior cameras: On
  • Launch Control: Off (it's easy to hold the handbrake before the light go off and you gain a few tenths)
  • Stability Control: Off (1 on Landrush)
  • Traction Control: Off (3 on Landrush)
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