MY SIDEWALL IS BLOWN! WHERE’S MY WARRANTY?
Guest blog by Grant Spolander
If you’ve done any sort of off-road driving in a 4x4, you’ll know that deflating your tyres makes a big, big difference to the vehicle’s performance.
I once tackled the beautiful Klein Tafelberg trail in a Hilux-versus-Ranger shootout, when the sand was blisteringly hot. The challenge of Klein Tafelberg is that it has these deep, steep, sandy tracks that bend left and right. Using momentum is seldom an option because one is constantly forced to swing the steering wheel back and forth. The only hope of getting to the top of the route (when the sand is soft) is to significantly deflate one's tyres.
Well, our situation was no different, and what amazed me that day was how much the performance of the vehicles (or tyres) changed when we dropped the pressure another 0.2 bar. What we weren’t able to achieve at one pressure rating, suddenly became a walk in the park after we’d dumped 0.2 bar from the tyres.
Naturally, when you come to realise how impactful tyre pressure can be on the performance of a 4x4 off-road, it’s hard to believe that anything so good (and crucial), can be so bad.
Unfortunately, what’s good for performance is seldom good for reliability, because the more you deflate your tyres, the more you may damage them.
This is true of all pneumatic tyres, regardless of make, brand, or strength. Severe tyre deflation equals tyre destruction, and there are no exceptions. It’s a lot like the air filter in your vehicle. Of course, removing your vehicle’s air filter in dusty conditions will remove any chance of the filter clogging up and restricting performance, but then again, who on earth would do that and not expect damage to the engine?
LESS AIR, MORE DAMAGE
Tyres are no different. Although we all recognise the benefits of an under-inflated tyre when off-road, the truth is that until tyre technology become airless (if it ever does), your tyres need air to survive. Remove that air, and damage to the tyre will likely follow.
So, what does that mean in terms of your tyre’s warranty?
Well, simply put: It voids the warranty. Just as removing the air filter from your vehicle will void the warranty on the engine, radically deflating your tyres will cancel any hope of a warranty claim should the tyre fail as a result.
In other words: When you deflate your tyres off-road, you are accepting a classic ‘risk versus reward’ trade-off which says, “I’m willing to sacrifice reliability for performance”.
You might be thinking, ‘What now? Am I supposed to stop deflating my tyres off-road?’ Well, I can’t answer that question for you, but what I can tell you is that I have no intention of driving off-road with fully-inflated tyres! If that were my only option, I’d probably sell my 4x4 tomorrow and buy something fast and loud... and stick to the tarmac.
But the bottom-line is: When it comes to tyre deflation, the choice is entirely yours… and so are the risks.