1. Everyone has an opinion on tyres!
And everyone else is clearly an idiot! You will find a massive wealth of experience from people who will passionately defend their own opinion and readily tell you that brand A and brand B are useless, despite the fact that they have only ever used brand C themselves. Everyone has a different set of expectations from their tyres. Everyone has a different set of criteria upon which they base their judgements. Consider everyone's
experience and opinion - then form your own.
2. Get the right tyre!
Not all tyres are created equal. Your tyre purchasing decsion should be based upon your needs and ambitions, not what your vehicle manufacturer decides. First make the choice between a Passenger or Light Truck tyre. Then decide upon your favoured tread pattern. Lastly, go shopping for the brand of premium tyre that meets your needs. Yes, you want a premium brand.
3. Don't be 'that' guy!
We've all met the bloke who refuses to let his tyres down. They are nearly as obnoxious as the "pfft, I did it all in 2wd" guy. Here are the best excuses from the Mr Highway Pressure.
a) I don't have a compressor.
Really? You bought a 4x4, for multiple thousands of dollars to go to the beach and you couldn't manage to lash out on a compressor? I've certainly picked up rentals that lacked a functioning compressor (despite assurances from the rental company) the fact of the matter though is that unless you are truly remote, there will be someone around, or a servo, who can help you to pump your tyres back up. You had
better hope that there is someone around because you will need them to rescue if you don't.
Yeah, we can all relate to this... However much more than air down/up time can be lost when you are bogged... on your own... while the tide is coming up...
c) I have low profile tyres.
As unfortunate as this is, it's a bigger and bigger problem and for many owners there are very limited wheel/tyre options. I guess that you need to weigh up the potential rim damage and the potential bogging potential. If you are bogged at the time, I guess you answered your own question. The fact is that your low profile tyres are a problem offroad in general. Highly inflated low profile tyres are a bigger problem.
d) I'm heavily loaded and need the sidewall height!
This one is a cracker. "I'm heavily loaded" translates to "I'm going to get bogged faster than my mates." Let's discuss the physics... lowering your tyre pressure might reduce your sidewall height (and therefore clearance) by a couple of centimeters... getting bogged in soft sand could reduce your clearance all the way to the diff. You gain clearance by reducing pressure because you stay on top of the sand instead of going under it.
4. Get the right pressure for the task!
The right pressure depends upon
a) Your load
b) Are you towing
c) Tyre size
d) Tyre construction
e) The terrain
f) The conditions
That dude on Facebook who recommended 22psi, without asking any of the above questions, should probably not be your only source of info.
5. Local knowledge is important!
Obviously knowing where you are going is important, but spending a bit of time speaking to a reputable source regarding the current local conditions can save you a lot of heartache. You will need to make a decision on the trustworthiness of your source, of course but the small investment of your time in seeking out the very latest updates to track conditions has got to be worth it.
6. Don't guess at your pressure!
Get them right! You need a quality gauge and you need to use it. Letting your tyres down by eye, looking at how much they 'Bag Out' isn't a sound strategy. Modern vehicles are constantly monitoring wheel speed - uneven tyre pressures result in an inconsistent rolling diameter and can cause havoc with your vehicle's safety and traction systems.
On the topic of "Bagging Out"
7. You don't drive on sidewalls!
How "bagged out" your tyres are is irrelevant - just stop saying it. Your aim is not to make the tyre wider, it's to make the contact patch longer... why not swap "bagging out" with '"increase my footprint"? It's a much more accurate way to describe what you are doing.
8. Everything has changed!
The way that your 4x4 grips, starts, stops and turns has been changed by reducing your tyre pressure - you need to change your driving style too. Harsh braking and sudden steering should be replaced by considered and smooth driver inputs. Tight turns on higher traction surfaces should be avoided.
Low pressure - Low Speed
9. One (two part) rule to rule them all!
At the Australian Offroad Academy we have a uniform policy on tyre pressure advice and teaching.
"Go as low as you need to go, but no lower... but be prepared to go lower if your needs change."
Do you know who learns heaps about tyres? All of our course participants... Why not join them?
Go to www.AustralianOffroadAcademy.com.au to learn more.
While you are here though, check out this video from Queensland Tourism from one of our Girls Got Grit Weekends.