Off-Roading Guidelines for Tire Pressure

Best Guidelines and Top Tips for Tire Pressure when off-roading

2/2/2017

Guidelines for Tire Pressure When Off-Roading

No matter when or where you are driving maintaining proper tire pressure for your type of tires and vehicle is of the utmost importance. It’s particularly important you maintain the correct tire pressure when off-roading since you want your vehicle and tires to be performing at peak capabilities. Not having properly tires, whether they are over inflated or under inflated will decrease performance for many different aspects of your lifted truck. Areas affected include, but are not limited to: steering response, traction and braking, tire wear and failure, load capacity, ground clearance, susceptibility to hydroplaning, power, and vehicle handling and stability.

Tire Pressure Basics

Temperature Affects Pressure

As a general rule of thumb for every 10 degree rise in temperature your tires’ go up 1 psi. Conversely, for every 10 degree decrease in temperature your tires’ lose 1 psi. Driving also heats your tires and will increase pressure on them. As a general rule of thumb a 30 psi tire gains 4 or 5 psi in the first thirty minutes and will then stabilize.

When to Check Tire Pressure

If temperatures affect your tire pressure, when is the best time to check your tires’ pressure? Vehicle manufacturers assume tire pressure is checked while cold. A cold tire is one that hasn’t been driven on for a few hours, is out of direct sunlight and with an ambient temp of about 60 degrees.

Checking Your Tire Pressure

Many people simply do a visual inspection or push the tire with their foot to make sure the tire is inflated properly. Do not do this, it is very hard to judge tire pressure visually or by feel. A tire with a recommended psi of 30 will look the same at 20 psi and at 40 psi. Always use a good quality tire gauge to check your tire pressure.

Airing Your Tires Down for Off-Roading

It used to be a common practice to air your tires down before going off-roading. It was done to provide more traction and a softer ride. We also aired tires down when 2 wheel drive trucks would get stuck. These days airing your tires down isn’t necessary in most off-roading circumstances since tires will still perform at their recommended highway inflation pressures.

Of course, airing down your tires will still provide a smoother off-roading experience and better traction on snow, sand and rocks. If your truck has conventional tires you’ll want to experiment to see the best psi to air the tires down to, but don’t go below 15 psi. If your SUV has beadlock wheels you can go below 15 psi.

Keep in mind there are some wheels on newer vehicles that should not be aired down at all because of poor rim bead support. So, make sure to read your manual before you experiment with airing your tires down.

When you finish off-roading you’ll need to air your tires back up, so will need a good way to do that. We’d recommend one of the following: 12V portable air compressor, an engine driven compressor or a tank of compressed air. It’s also good to have a backup like a hand or food pump in case your primary method malfunctions.

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