Most off road driving experts talk about tyre deflators a lot – we often recommend them ourselves. Any time you head for the bush you should have a set of deflators in your toolkit; they’ll make life much easier, and help you keep yourself mobile in Australia’s toughest terrain.
Deflators are a pretty simple concept. When you cross soft ground you want lower pressure in your tyres to keep them turning instead of digging in. The air won’t let itself out when you unscrew the valve cap though, so most of us have ended up poking the valve core with a screwdriver or twig to release pressure. The problem is that can damage the valve, which is pretty disastrous when you’re away in the Outback. Deflators let you release the pressure safely and precisely.
Sometimes deflators come singly, but often you buy them as a set – one for each tyre. That makes a lot of sense and will save you time, plus you’re not stuck if you lose one. Using them is simple, too. As long as you do it right you’ll find it easy to adjust your pressures to exactly where you want them.
Deflators aren’t all identical, but they do tend to be similar. Our Staun ones are pretty typical (as well as being great quality) so we’ll look at how those work; most other brands will be the same or very close.
First, take the valve caps off. Then screw a deflator onto each valve, using the knurled finger grip at the bottom. Don’t use the adjusting cap or lock ring to screw it down – doing that can change the pressure you set the deflators up for. Usually, when the deflator is fully screwed down, air starts releasing automatically. If it doesn’t just lift the pin at the top. Fitting the deflator locks this pin to the valve core, so lifting it will pull the core up and start letting the tyre down. Then just repeat the process on each tyre, and wait for them all to stop releasing. When that’s done all you have to do is remove the deflators and put the valve caps back on; all your tyres will be at exactly the pressure you set the deflators up for.
Some deflators don’t automatically shut off when they reach a preset pressure; these are probably best avoided, really. Otherwise you need to keep checking pressure as the tyres let down, and it’s easy to end up with less air than you wanted. Automatic ones are a lot more convenient. They do need to be set up for the pressure you’re looking for; with the Staun ones you just inflate a tyre to the right pressure then fit each of the deflators to it and screw down the adjustment cap until air starts escaping. That’s the pressure set. Of course you can still drop it further than that if you find some really soft ground – just turn the cap anticlockwise and air will start releasing again.
When you look at how simple they are to use, and how they can give you the right pressure every time, deflators are a great addition to your off road gear. If you don’t have a set you’d be doing yourself a big favour by picking one up.