Welcom again to the newest section of the MyRV Magazine- Campfire chat part 2, smell that smoke, feel the warm glow. Pull up a chair, grab a beer, wine, or softy and let’s talk about your rig, places you have been and places you want to go. What is it about a campfi re that draws everyone in?
I received a call the other day from a friend Roger from Kenthurst a bush suburb in Sydney’s north west and we were chatting about tyres for his Prado and he asked me who I would recommend that really knows his stuff on the subject of tyres. He said “there is so much bull out there on tyres I don’t know who to believe”. That got me thinking about the huge amount that isn’t known on that subject. After all it really doesn’t matter how well you have prepared, if your tyres are ordinary chances are so will be your trip.
So I thought
“What Kind of Tyres?” sounds like a good topic to start with. My specialist in the tyre industry is Danny Dalton. And he joined me for our second campfire chat.
– tell us a bit about yourself Danny
– Well I’ve been in the tyre industry for about 15 years now, but not just tyres I guess my specialty has been front work for all kinds of passenger and Rv’s.
– you didn’t get your knowledge playing around with a cars front end.
– no I went from fi tting to sales, and found I had a passion for knowledge in knowing what tyre types did to different vehicles, you know, the way a particular vehicle reacted with certain tread patterns and rubber compounds etc.
– OK mate here we go with the big dollar question What Kind of Tyres?
– You need to make sure that you know what kind of tyres your car will need when it comes to replacement time, and make sure that you do change them as soon as the time comes (or slightly earlier if possible). You can change the tyres on your vehicle to another type, but you really do need to do your research fi rst and make sure that the new type is suitable for the vehicle you wish to fi t them to.
– Where you live can affect your tyre choice. Conditions such as frequent rain, snow, heavy winter weather or extreme heat
can all affect the type of tyre that you need to use. In the Sydney and other capital cities it’s not really that much of an issue, but in places out of those centres where the weather varies hugely from state to state, you will find that owners of vehicles should equip their vehicles with tyres that are well-suited to the conditions in that particular area.
Different tyre types vary hugely in function as well as price, it depends on your priorities. There are all season tyres, performance all season tyres, ultra-high performance tyres, and tyres made especially for 4×4’s to name a few. If you drive a high-performance sports car you might not worry in the slightest about having to buy expensive tyres to keep this car up to scratch. On the other hand, if you need a 4×4 to get through farmland, or sludgy mud-strewn roads to get the kids to school, you should appreciate when you buy the car that the tyres fitted are probably not going to suit you and need to be replaced with something more suitable.
– When Should People Replace Them?
Tyres are made with tread wear indicators in the grooves along the tread to help drivers see when their tyres are nearing the legal limit. Although the legal limit is …1.6mm mm, most motor safety organizations suggest that the tyres should be replaced when the tread depth reaches 3mm as it is recognised across the country that the current legal limit isn’t really sufficient to protect drivers caught up in adverse driving conditions. Such as lack of traction, tendency to aquaplane and lower safer levels in wet and damp conditions.
– How do you know when it’s time to replace your tyres? In Australia, the legal limit for minimum depth of the tread on your tyres is 1.6mm, across the central 3⁄4 of the tread going around the complete circumference of the tyre.
– Should you get a Professional Opinion?
– Of course if you’re not confident about your choices, or you’re not sure about which tyres to get for your car, speak to a professional. That’s what they’re there for, and if you go to a reputable company, they will be able to point you in the right direction.
Finally, remember that if you do change your tyres to something offering more high performance, you may need to inform your insurance company as it can sometimes affect the price of your premium, though whether this is the case should be outlined by your insurance provider in your policy documents. This is very vague and I can only guess that you are referring to retro fitting larger diameter wheels where this would be the case. Up grading on the standard wheel does not necessitate a need to inform the insurer. Also in some states the requirements differ when fitting larger diameter wheels…Qld in particular comes to mind
– I get a lot of questions about tyre choice and types of driving, any suggestions?
– Plenty, but I think that is more a one on one chat with your readers, I am not here to flog any particular brand.
– ok lets talk about technique, I will work on you for the next issue concerning brands.
– Successful four wheel driving relies on a combination of knowledge and skill. An understanding of not only driving techniques for different conditions, but also the capabilities and limitations of your vehicle is critical. The final, and crucial factor is your tyres.
– Give us some examples
– How many?
– How many beers will it cost me?
– I’ll give you a six-pack worth
Where possible, stay in high-range four wheel drive to maintain speed, but if you bog down, go into low range and try again.
Your driving depends on the sand conditions. Driving on hard packed sand can be very straightforward, but more often, beaches are windblown, with soft, traction sapping sand. This requires continual momentum, full throttle and partially deflated tyres. (Absolute minimum pressure 1.1 bar or 16 psi).
Dropping pressure elongates the tyre’s contact patch, creating better flotation through a wider footprint. Re-inflate the tyre as soon as possible after leaving the beach. Prior to this, drive at a maximum of 80km/h.
ON THE BEACH
The most common ‘mud negotiation’ confronted by four wheel drivers is a bog hole on a bush track – usually furrowed by massive wheel ruts and axle-deep pits. Where possible, place the tyres on high ground to avoid dragging the diffs through the mud. If you slip off, keep the accelerator down and turn the steering wheel from side to side, enabling the side lugs of the tyres to gain grip on the side face of the ruts.
Check for build-up in the wheel arches. Clogged guards effectively eliminate any tread pattern on the tyres, so it is advisable to clean them out with a shovel where necessary.
Getting through mud requires momentum, so as a general rule, high range and full throttle is recommended.
Water crossings terrify novice four wheel drivers more than any other cross country circumstance.
The technique is simple. As with any unfamiliar crossing, walk the course first, taking note of any possible obstacles, and if necessary, marking their position. Select low range, and generally first gear. (It is not advisable with most 4WDs to change gear midstream, as water can get into the clutch plate).
After checking that your air intake is high enough to remain clear of water in the deepest section, set off, maintaining a steady speed to create a bow wave in front of the vehicle.
Because you can’t see what the tyres are striking under the water, never reduce air pressure, and for the same reason, check for sidewall slashes or puncturing stakes after you’ve reached the other side.
The advantage of a 4WD in snow is that chains don’t have to be fitted immediately. In light snow conditions, the idea is to break through the crust so the tyre tread can grip on the surface beneath.
Select high range and avoid acceleration surges and sudden breaking. In deeper snow don’t rev the engine, but go into low range and use minimal pressure to let the tyres bite rather than slip.
Never wrench the steering wheel sharply in snow – it could put you into a spin or a skid.
Not even the most capable 4WD, regardless of the tyres it’s fitted with, can go through endless depths of deep snow without chains.
The most notorious challenge in the outback is bulldust. First instinct is to treat bulldust as if it was sand, but that can be a fatal mistake. Never deflate your tyres, for beneath the deep, powder-fine stretches of sand lies a rock hard base that pounds the chassis on impact and could split the sidewall of a partially inflated tyre.
Select high range and maintain a constant speed between 60 and 80km/h, correcting any sideways slews with both the steering wheel and more throttle.
The skill in tackling rocky conditions is to keep the tyres on the high ground all the time. This
avoids hanging the vehicle up on diffs, the transmission or bash plates. Torque is more important than power in climbing rocky slopes, so select fi rst or second gear low range to east the vehicle over any obstacles. Use minimal throttle openings to prevent tyre slip. Where possible, stick to road going tyre pressures, only dropping them when the vehicle is stuck and all other recovery techniques have failed. Although lower pressures maximise tyre footprint, they also increase the danger of pinching the tyre in a narrow crevice or slashing the sidewall on tree stakes or rocks.
IN THE DESERT While most of the techniques used in beach driving are applicable to desert treks, a fundamental different exists. With localised exceptions, Australia’s deserts don’t consist purely of sand but are a mix of sand ridges interspersed with rocky depressions and fl at Spinifex or mulga country, meaning that tyres can very rarely be let down to coastal sand
pressures for fear of staking. Maintaining momentum is crucial. Don’t fi ght the steering wheel. Rather, let the vehicle – within reason of course – fi nd its own way, but take care on crests. If you fi nd yourself running across the face of a dangerous slope, turn the wheels downhill and accelerate. This not only stops the vehicle from rolling over, but also restores steering capability and traction to the tyres.
Steve – Danny that’s seven tips Danny – yeah I know, got a phone, I need to ring my wife………… it looks like it might be a long night. Need to know more contact Danny: 02 9634 2700 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Next issue: Danny discusses Tyre Choice, Wheel Balance, and Tyre Rotation etc etc.