All You Need To Know About Tyre Pressure In Australia
Do you know how to change a tyre on a car? Whether you are mechanically minded or not I think if you drive a car this should be common knowledge. To reduce the risk of blowing your tyres during a road trip and being in need of a savvy backpacker who can change it you should know some basics about the right tyre pressure when traveling around Australia.
As a traveler who owns a car (and even if you don’t) there are certain things that are important to be aware of before heading off for your next big road trip and in this article I would like to point them out to make your drive as smooth as possible.
As a very rough guide for most cars you want your car tyres to be pumped up to 32 psi and your campervan tyres should have around 45 psi on sealed roads. But what about driving on sand? What if I have a 4×4? And what does this psi even mean? These and more questions are going to be answered in the following.
But first off watch this video to see why it is important to have your tyres inflated properly!
You are in Australia to have a great time, explore this vast country with it’s incredible flora and fauna and meet fellow backpackers while going on road trips. And not to end up in hospital or worse, right? So to minimize the risk of being in such a situation I recommend to know some basics about tyre pressure and car maintenance in general.
First, let’s start with the measurement for pressure used Down Under.
Converting tyre pressure units
There are different units of pressure in use when it comes to tyres. The most common ones are psi (pound per square inch), kPa (kilopascal) and bar. Most Europeans are probably familiar with the latter ones which are metric and you English speaking folks are used to psi, which is an imperial measurement.
If you want to transform these three units of pressure then just have a look at the following table.
As a rule of thumb you have 1 psi is almost 7 kPa. You can see that the conversion from kPa to bar is easy. In that case all you have to do is to divide kpa by 100. So for example 250 kpa is 2.5 bar and so on.
What tyre pressure is recommended for my car
If you are not which is the best tyre pressure for your car you should either have a look into your driver’s manual, the inside of the driver’s side door or you might find it on a placard the in the glove box. Also on the side of your tyres or inside the fuel cap.
You might as well check out this useful widget from carsguide.com.au to find out about the manufacturer’s recommendation.
So this should help you to find out how much you want to pump up your tyres when you are driving on sealed roads. Moreover, heed the following advice.
You should slightly pump up your rear tyres when heavily loaded (by around 2 to 3 psi more) and check the pressure of your car tyres before heading off for your big raod trip. So ideally you should go to some service station not too far away, so that your tyres are still cold and the air inside them has not expanded that much.
Best tyre pressure for four wheel driving
A lot of backpackers in Australia are excited about the many chances to try some four wheel driving. And whether you have a 4WD or not there is a general rule of thumb.
You want your car tyres more inflated when going fast or when heavily loaded and less pumped up when going off road to reduce wear and tear or a flat tyre altogether.
And never forget. Always engage in 4WD when on unsealed roads for a longer period of time.
Before getting into any details I would like to give you the following disclaimer. This is just a rough guide on what to do about your tyre pressure when going off road. See this simply as suggestions and bear in mind that every car is different just as every car tyre is. And your car might be heavily loaded or not. And so much more. The best thing to do is to stick to the manufacturers recommendations and to do your own research. And maybe some trial and error. This is a controversial topic and everyone has different opinions on it.
On bitumen you should have your tyres somewhere between 34 psi and 40 psi. Also take into account how fast you are going to drive and how much you load into the car.
On gravel roads that are in good conditions you should aim for somewhere around 30 psi to 34 psi. Moreover, you should not drive as fast as on sealed roads.
Rough unsealed roads
On rouuh unsealed roads that aren’t in the best condition (that means lots of corrugation, etc.) you can drop your tyre pressure some more to about 26 psi to 28 psi.
On a very rough track you can deflate your tyres again some more. So here we are talking rocks and muddy patches and river crossings (always go very slow through rivers). In this case you can go for around 24 psi.
When driving on sand you want to deflate your tyres quite a lot to create traction. You should aim for about 16 psi to 20 psi. Moreover, when driving on the beach you should always drive above the high tide line as you don’t want your car to be bogged down during low tide and then be in a rush to get it out of there.
Generally when going off road you should not drive too fast and take corners slowly and do not accelerate too fast or break too harsh. Moreover, you want to have momentum and maintain traction and how exactly to drive on different kinds of surfaces and in different conditions simply takes some experience which comes over time.
- pressure gauge: in the outback there aren’t service stations around every corner
- 12 V compressor: deflating tyres without tools is not a problem, however inflating again….
Two very famous destinations for you to try your 4WD skills on your road trip Down Under are the Gibb River Road in the Kimberlys, the north west of Australia and Fraser Island on the east coast. The Gibb River Road has lots of rocky and muddy tracks with some river crossings (depending on the time of year) and Fraser Island is all about driving on sand.
More tips for backpackers with their own car
Apart from checking your car for the right tyre pressure there are a few more things to consider when you are traveling through Australia in your own car.
Although this should be common sense it probably won’t hurt to mention it. You should get your car serviced regularly. As a rule of thumb you should do this every 5000 km to 10000 km. Have a mechanic check your tyres, oil, filters and more for wear and tear. People like to save money on this one, but if you are stuck in the middle of nowhere during your next road trip it might cost you a lot more.
Oil and water
Checking your oil and water is as important as it is easy. So there is no reason to neglect this. You should do this about once a week or when you are driving long distances even before every long drive. The following video shows you how to do it.
I may or may not speak from experience. However, in such a case it is always recommended to have some jumper leads in your car. Did we have some? Well, you might guess the answer. Also, the people in the few remaining cars around us did not have any. Eventually, a nice ranger helped us out.
Moral of the story? Always have a pair of jumper leads in your car. The following video shows you how to use them.
I have to say that after watching this video I realized that I have never done it the right way (read the safe way). So, there you go. You always learn something new.
You are less likely to get stranded somewhere in Australia just to realize that you do not own a pair of jumper cables when you check your car battery in the first place. So if your car battery drains way too fast there is a chance you might be better of replacing it.
Spare tyre and tools
Even with the recommended tyre pressure it will happen every now and again. You will have a puncture or a blowout. It just happens. In that case it is always good to have a spare tyre, or even better, two of them. Especially when you are far from civilization.
And moreover, not only should you have a spare tyre, but also a wheel brace and jack to actually change them. Again, I may or may not speak from experience.
For all you backpackers who don’t know how to change a tyre, the video underneath will show you how to do it properly.
So there you go. Just some basics about general car maintenance is going to save you some money and especially stress further down the road. Literally. With these tips and tricks there is nothing holding you back from your next road trip around Australia and hopefully you won’t get stuck on the side of the road. Have fun and save travels!