As a person who off-roads a lot I'm familiar with airing down my vehicle's tyres. It increases the tyre's footprint on the terrain spreading the load over a greater area and that allows for greater traction. Furthermore, it lessens the chance of staking, a stick or foreign object entering the tyre, and causing a puncture - Imagine a balloon inflated to a very tight state compared to it being half-inflated. The latter is more pliable when poked; it's the same principle with tyres. An increased footprint and greater traction also mean the environment doesn't get torn up as much by the tyres. So changing tyre pressure is important.
Airing down, or deflating, tyres should only be done on loose surfaces and when running-speed is low. On a bitumen or sealed road the increased flex in the sidewall will cause heat build-up and eventually tear the tyre apart. This happened to me last year when my camper trailer tyre deflated whilst running at 120kph.
This means that once the vehicle is back on a hard road the tyres will need re-inflating. I have an air compressor to do this and have written about it before; you can see it here.
This happened at 120kph. The tyre had a slow leak and deflated to about half-pressure. The additional flex in the sidewall heated it up. Eventually it became so hot the hub spinning simply tore the sidewall away from the tread resulting in a catastrophic failure. This could have ended very badly for me at that speed. I now have a TPMS which you can read about in a link further down.
Here's a vehicle my company recently fitted a tyre pressure management system to. This is a truck that operates on and off-road servicing high voltage power lines; it's a serious job and a serious truck. This one is a small crane-truck and some of the others are much larger, the ones that lift people up in buckets to work high up on the high voltage towers.
Often these vehicles are in situations in which the roads are in very poor condition and with the amount of off-road use these vehicles get the operators require tyre pressure management systems to be fitted and that's where we come in. We install this system that can deflate and re-inflate tyres to set pressures at the touch of a button, without exiting the vehicle.
There's many benefits to controlling tyre pressure including maximising tyre life, a huge issue on vehicles that have so many tyres and are constantly on the road. Adjusting the pressure means the tyre will operate more effectively and remember about the staking thing I mentioned? Getting punctures or replacing worn tyres is costly. Whether the vehicle is on gravel, dirt, rocks, mud or corrugations the in-cab-operated tyre pressure system means the right pressure can be selected easily and quickly set and without exiting the vehicle.
Benefits extend to better ride, traction, more efficient braking, better fuel economy and improved steering plus more. In short, the vehicle is far more productive, cost-efficient and comfortable for the crew.
Safety is also improved by selecting the right pressure for the moment providing better grip, shorter braking distances and straighter stops which leaves drivers feeling more confident and reducing driver-stress. This means a better and more healthy workplace for crews that are often under enough stress as it is, especially when working on high voltage power lines and often in poor environmental conditions.
Keeping personnel happy and healthy makes for greater productivity and reduced costs: Sick pay, replacement labour, overtime, medical expenses and possible workers compensation can hit the bottom line hard.
From a vehicle perspective, managing tyre pressure can mean less maintenance as well.
Corrugated roads exert a lot of force through vibration and that can cause additional maintenance and component replacement, not to mention fatigue on the occupants of course. Reducing tyre pressure helps to mitigate the vibration improving the overall ride and stress on the mechanicals and tyres. That all means additional cost savings, time saving and a better ability for the company to service their customers through increased up-time.
There are so many benefits to tyre pressure management with the above being only the main ones. It saves companies many thousands of dollars per vehicle over its life and whilst this particular system doesn't come cheap it is well worth the expense.
The principles of tyre pressure management are rather simple but in application can seem quite complicated. I've been off-roading for many years and have learned what to do and when depending on the terrain and requirements of the situation. I also have the equipment to make airing down and back up easy and accurate including an on-board tyre management system...although mine doesn't inflate and deflate from the cabin. I wrote a post about it which you can see here if you like.
One doesn't need to be an expert or spend many thousands of dollars to look after tyres and gain the benefits. It's as simple as checking and adjusting tyre pressure once a week, a quick visual inspection, keeping them correctly balanced and the vehicle wheel aligned. Sure, it costs a little money, but so does not doing it through excessive tyre wear and safety is compromised - who knows, doing this simple check once a week could save your life or someone else's.
Anyway, that's just a little piece on one of the trucks we worked on recently. We do a lot of these actually and it's always really cool to see these systems in action. I hope this wasn't too boring for you.
Design and create your ideal life, don't live it by default - Tomorrow isn't promised so be humble and kind
All of these images are my own