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Old 05-26-2018, 01:50 AM   #1
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Lower tire pressure for off road 4 x 4

I'm probably the last person to figure this out but while exploring the dirt roads/ 4 x 4 trails trails around Moab last month, Upper Management was quite vocal about being beat up on the washboard and rocky sections. Apparently she took issue with her liver and spleen repeatedly exchanging places.

Anyway, I got out and lowered the tire pressure of my Suzuki Sidekick from 36 to 20 psi. It made a HUUUUGE difference in the ride quality! Felt like we were driving on shag carpet instead of on railroad tracks and staircases. Did this on 3 occasions during our month long trip and worked like a champ every time. Perfectly safe to do this (the factory stickers says run at 21 psi. Hmphhh!) Did feel a little mushy back on the pavement but refilled the tires at first chance. Will likely get a 12V compressor for the future.

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Old 05-26-2018, 12:42 PM   #2
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Besides not beating up the internal organs, you will have much better traction in dirt, sand & mud with lower pressure. 15 is about as low as you would want to go without having bead lock rims.

Definitely get the compressor so you can air up when you are ready to get back on pavement. Look for a compressor with higher volume (CFM) vs. higher pressure and you'll get them filled up faster.

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Old 05-26-2018, 01:05 PM   #3
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So why don't you run at the factory recommended tire pressure?
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Old 05-26-2018, 02:13 PM   #4
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If you're asking why run a low pressure, that is only for off road and it helps the tires float better over loose terrain (wider contact patch) and it lets the tread self clean much better. This is a common practice for Jeeps and other off road vehicles. Here's one of many articles on the subject
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Old 05-27-2018, 02:35 PM   #5
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This is pretty much standard practice for Jeep and 4x4 offriding, whether rock or sand. 15PSI is fine for pretty much any tire. The lower pressure not only gives a better ride, but the tire will grip the rocks much better. In sand, it disperses the weight over a wider surface and you won't sink into the sand as easily.

I was at the beach once with my Jeep, with my buddy following in his Ram Truck 4x4. I suggested he lower his air pressure (He liked to run at 80PSI) and he poopooed the idea. He made it about 50 yards before he sank to his frame. Two little old ladies, about 75 years old, rolled up in their little Suzuki 4x4, took one look, and said, "You should have aired down". Needless to say, we still laugh about that one. We aired him down, I used the jeep to pull him out of his holes, and he did fine after that.

Yes, air down. However, don't run any longer than you have to once back on the highway. You will overheat the tires and cause damage. Just take it easy and go slow til you can refill.


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Old 05-27-2018, 03:52 PM   #6
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Low tire pressure is a great idea, just air back up for the highway. In my 4x4 days I found it helped if you "rode it like a horse." By that I mean lean forward in the seat on rough patches and pivot at the waist.
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Old 05-27-2018, 04:09 PM   #7
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I know that at the Colorado Sand Dunes there is a sign that says to air down to 15 PSI at the lowest tow out bill is around $400.
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