DUBAI 2 December 2018: Desert driving is a skill that takes some time to master – but a good grasp of the basics will carry you a long way during your first few forays into the dunes.
Ford’s in-house experts help guide you through the steps you need to deflate your tyres before venturing on to the sand.
Novice desert drivers may not be aware of the importance of deflating – or just how easy it is to drive on sand once tyre pressures have been reduced considerably. As the tyre pressure drops, the tyre flattens out, creating a larger contact patch with the ground – up to 25 per cent more – which helps spread the weight of the vehicle a little more, and helps reduce strain on the engine and other driveline components.
Float on Sand
“You really need to deflate so that your vehicle ‘floats’ on the sand,” said Mike Chavez, series co-host and Ford Middle East Product Development Lead Technologist. “A softer tyre moulds to the shape of the sand rather than cutting through it like a knife. When you cut through like a knife, you’re just going to get stuck. You want to float on top like you’re driving on a cloud.”
There are a number of ways you can deflate, but there are two very fast ways that each involve removing the Schrader valve. Whichever method you chose, Chavez says, you should be aiming for an off-road pressure of between 15-18 PSI.
“You only really want to go down that far because if you deflate any further, you may end up damaging a rim or debeading a tyre [rolling the tyre off the rim],” Chavez explained.
“This also allows you to deflate a little more if you need to – say if you get stuck, you can go down to 10PSI, or even 5PSI, to help get yourself out of the sand. Once you do that, you’ll want to reinflate again to 15-18PSI so that you mitigate any possibility of damaging a rim or tyre.”