PICKING THE RIGHT TYRE PRESSURE FOR OVERLAND USE
GUEST BLOG BY GRANT SPOLANDER
“It’s better to be too hard than too soft”, he said. We were just two blokes sitting around a campfire, so I cautiously responded by asking, “Errr… are we still talking about tyres, or are you giving me sex-therapy advice?”
We were camped out in Mozambique somewhere. Myself and a mate (we’ll call him Bob) chatting about off-road driving in a remote region, versus off-road driving a weekend trail. Naturally, the subject of tyres came up, and with that, the age-old question of: What tyre pressure is best?
Bob and I don’t always agree on things, in fact, we often argue and I sometimes wonder why we hang around each other, but we were nodding our heads in agreement before he made his “hardness” comment. “Right, so… Dr Phil, what do you mean by too hard and too soft?” I asked.
“Well”, he said, “If you’re blazing a trail that’s not far from home, you can take a few risks for the purpose of testing your skills and your vehicle. However, in the case of overland travel, the emphasis should be on mitigating risks, rather than testing them. In other words: When you’re deflating your tyres for overland use, you should be thinking about minimising the risks to your tyres, as opposed to maximising their performance. With that in mind, a tyre that’s a bit too hard is safer than a tyre that’s a bit too soft”.
Like I said, it’s not often that we agree on things, but I decided to play devil’s advocate anyway, “Okay, but surely it’s just as important to not get stuck in a remote region, in which case traction is just as vital?”
He responded, “Sure, but your tyres should never make up for the limitations of your vehicle. This is one of the reasons why the capability of your vehicle is so important, and where things like a rear diff-lock or great suspension travel play a big part in where and how you travel in your 4x4. If you find yourself in a region where you have to overly deflate your tyres in order to get through a potentially obstacle, the chances are good that you’ve ventured beyond the capabilities of your vehicle. Sand driving is obviously a different subject, but punctures aren’t usually a big concern in soft sand”.
I sat back in my chair and desperately thought of a comeback, or any flaw to his logic, but I came up blank. Of course, like Bob said, there are exceptions to every rule and on occasion you may be forced to overly deflate your tyres to get out of a bad situation (deep sand being one of them), but I think I understood what Bob was saying because I’ve made the mistake myself many times. How often do we deflate our tyres for maximum traction (at the expense of tyre protection) because we’re terrified of getting stuck? And how often is that fear ego driven? The problem with this practise is that eventually your luck will run out and at some point you’ll lose a tyre to sidewall damage.
“Okay Bob, you win, I’ll give it to you, I think most guys will agree that it’s better to be too hard than too soft, and, that one shouldn’t overly deflate one’s tyres either.