Essential Tyre Pressure Tips for 4WDs

When preparing for a 4WD trip, one of the first things I do is check my tyre pressure. Not having the right pressure in your tyres for the type of terrain that you are driving through can be difficult and dangerous. I’m going to share some tyre tips that will help you drive easily and safely on your next four-wheel driving adventure.

One of the most obvious safety focal points of four wheel driving and any kind of driving for that matter is the relationship between your car and the road. The dominant link here and the only physical contact is your tyres.

Why do I need to check the pressure of my tyres?

There is a lot of confusion around what pressures should be run in tyres and a lot of people seem to opt for too much pressure when in reality this is just as dangerous as having low pressure.

The effect of having too much pressure in your tyres:

  • The tyre is over-inflated and consequently, only a narrow width of the tyre is making contact with the road.
  • In larger four wheel drives, too much pressure in your tyres can make the car feel like it is skating across the road surface.
  • To much pressure in your tyres will also wear your tyres unevenly.

The effect of having too little pressure in your tyres:

  • The level of control decreases, and more importantly, you increase the risk of a blowout.
  • Driving long distances at speed with under inflated tyres causes the sidewalls to heat up, which can lead to a blowout.Tyre Pressure Diagram

 Tyre Pressure Guidelines to help you work out if you’re tyres are properly inflated

What is the right pressure for my vehicle?

  • All cars have a tyre placard on them somewhere, which is basically a little metal plate detailing the pressures which should be observed in your car. Of course, this changes when you fit different rims and tyres on your vehicle.
  • As a general rule, I would run 36-40psi in a Landcruiser or Patrol. Some would argue that this is too low, traditionalists might argue that it’s far too low! Now, this is highway pressure mind you, so of course driving on dirt roads or sandy/muddy/snowy conditions will call for a decrease in pressure.
  • The effect of decreasing the pressure in sandy conditions acts to extend the ‘footprint’ of your tyre, in other words, you have a greater contact point with the road, and you are less likely to get bogged.
  • In really difficult sandy country I have had to drop down to 5psi.
  • However, lowering the pressure is not ideal as you greatly increase the risk of a blowout or rolling the tyre off the rim. If you are forced to significantly drop your tyre pressure it would be best to have a compressor with you, or allow for a very slow drive back to the nearest servo!

How can I drive safely with the pressure I’ve set?

There is a simple relationship to observe when altering your tyre pressures. The three key elements are Pressure / Speed / Load.

  • If you decrease your pressure something else must also change, ie. drop your speed or decrease your load.
  • If you increase your load (ie. for utes), then you should also increase your tyre pressure to accommodate this.
  • As you can now understand tyre pressures are really important, and every four wheel drive should have a pressure gauge in the glove box. If you find yourself without one, or you’re in a work vehicle and inevitably someone has pinched the gauge, you can still reduce pressure evenly around the car by timing how much air you let out of each tyre.

It's important to check your tyre pressure, especially before heading on a big trip

It’s always good practice to check tyre pressure often – especially before a big trip away!

I hope that helps clear up the the importance of tyre pressures, after all, tyres are a huge cost especially for four wheel drives, so we should all try to preserve the integrity of our tyres for as long as possible.

For further information on tyre pressure maintenance and preparing for your next 4wd trip, feel free to drop Snowys a line by either emailing or calling our toll free number 1300 914 007.

Safe travels!