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Should You Adjust Your Trailer’s Tyre Pressure Offroad?

March 10, 2018   |   By Matt Smith Should You Adjust Your Trailer’s Tyre Pressure Offroad? - image Capture-19 on https://www.4wdsupacentre.com.au/news

We all know how vital correct adjustment of tyre pressures is in a 4WD when you’re heading off-road. Lowering your tyre pressures to suit the type of terrain you’re driving provides you with bucketloads more traction and goes a long way to reducing the risk of tyre damage by letting your tyres mold around the terrain instead of bumping up and over it. If you carry a portable 12v air compressor like the Thumper air compressor or the Thumper Max air compressor then you’ll always be able to reinflate your tyre pressures when you need to. Likewise, if you have a Kwiky tyre deflator or an Adventure Kings 3 in 1 Tyre deflator then you’ll easily be able to drop your tyre pressures to an accurate level to suit the type of 4WDing you’re doing. But what if you’re towing a trailer, like a camper trailer, a caravan or a boat with you on your adventures? Should you adjust your tyre pressures on the trailer?

To answer that question let’s look at the reasons why we drop our tyre pressures. Carrying the appropriate gear to adjust your tyre pressures, such as a 4WD air compressor and a tyre gauge, gives you the freedom to make changes to your tyre pressures throughout your trip. What you’re doing when you lower your tyre pressures, is creating a larger ‘footprint’ for each tyre – the contact patch between the tyre and the ground. At full road pressures that footprint may only be as small as a couple of hand-prints. When you use your Kwiky tyre deflator or Adventure Kings 3 in 1 Tyre deflator to lower your 4WD tyre pressures, you’re dramatically increasing your footprint or contact patch with the ground. To understand the real effect this has in soft terrains like sand and mud, think about the different between walking across thick, goopy mud wearing ice skates or flippers. The ice skates have an extremely thin contact patch, the flippers have a big wide contact patch. When you adjust your 4WD tyre pressures for sand or mud, you’re helping your tyres to sit up on top of the terrain, instead of digging back down again.

At the same time, you also let your tyres mold around the terrain you’re driving, when you come across sharp objects like tree roots, rocks or sticks. Imagine the difference between a soccer ball that’s rolled over a bed of nails while fully inflated and hard as a rock, and one that is nearly flat and can mold itself over the sharp nails. It’s vital however that you carry a portable air compressor if you are going to lower your tyre pressures, because you can’t just leave your tyres deflated for on-road driving, and there’s not always going to be a service station in easy reach either.

So the answer to the question ‘Should I adjust my trailer’s tyre pressures?’ is absolutely a firm yes! Always adjust your trailer tyre pressures at the same time you adjust your 4WD tyre pressures. Use your Kwiky tyre deflator or Adventure Kings 3 in 1 Tyre deflator to lower your trailer tyre pressures, and then re-inflate them with a portable air compressor like the Thumper air compressor or Thumper Max air compressor. Here at 4WD Supacentre we even sell a 4m extension hose that suits both the Thumper 12v air compressor and Thumper Max 4WD air compressor, that allows you to easily re-inflate your trailer’s tyre pressures and be able to reach even the biggest caravan’s tyres without a drama.

However, here’s the final trick you need to know when adjusting trailer tyre pressures. You shouldn’t necessarily lower them to the exact same pressure as the tow vehicle. What you need to do, is first lower the tow vehicle’s tyre pressures to the right level, then work out the length of the contact patch each tyre has. Grab two large sticks, place one at the very front of the contact patch and one at the rear so they stick out the side of the tyre towards you. Then, measure the length between the two sticks, and replicate that measurement on your trailer tyres by adjusting pressures to suit. You’ll probably find you don’t need to drop your trailer tyre pressures quite as much as the tow vehicle’s, to create the same contact patch. Use your Kwiky 4WD tyre gauge to keep an eye on tyre pressures right throughout the day as well and you’ll give your trailer a much better chance at not getting stuck, as well as going a long way towards reducing the possibility of tyre damage.