How to Set Your Tire Pressure for Off-Roading

You know you should run a lower tire pressure in certain terrain. But what terrain, and what tire pressure? Here's a handy guide.

Máté Petrány/Road&Track

This article, originally published on August 26, 2016, has been updated with a new video breaking down how to properly deflate tires for off-roading from the Team O'Neil Rally School.

No proper off roader can be complete without a portable air compressor. When the going gets tough, you're much better off if you adjust your tire pressure to suit the terrain the best. And once back on the pavement, it's equally important to bring them back to the factory recommended figures.

Under-inflated tires will flex more, crawling over sharp rocks instead of getting punctured by them. Having a wider contact patch will also increase traction where you most need it, hopefully saving you from sinking into deep sand or soft snow, if that's what you need to deal with. It makes driving off road more comfortable, and safer to the environment as well.

Our Aussie friends at Car Advice asked an expert about what pressures he would recommend, but as always, please remember that these numbers can vary depending on the weight of your vehicle and the tires themselves.

The Team O’Neil Rally School also put together a video all about deflating tire pressure for off-road driving. It goes in-depth covering the positives and negatives of doing so. The school's lead instructor, Wyatt Knox, points out that deflating your tires speeds up wear and increases your rollover risk. Take too much air out of your tires, and you run the risk of permanent damage, or the tire de-beading from the wheel.

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