"I just bought my first Jeep, what should I do to it first?"
We get a lot of questions like this from our readers, many of whom
think they have to start with expensive items, like lockers and low gears,
or lift kits and large tires, in order to gain traction. Not so! While
these things definitely help (a lot!), you may be amazed to learn that
improving traction can cost little to nothing at all.
In this article, we are going to talk about "disconnecting" and "airing down". Disconnecting your Jeep's swaybars* and airing-down your tires can
improve traction so much, it could mean the difference between getting stuck and getting home.
Step One: Disconnecting
NOT Disconnected: Notice
the tire in the air.
Disconnected: All four
tires on the ground.
You've probably heard someone mention "disconnecting", or using "quick
disconnects". What they are referring to is "disconnecting the swaybar* ".
THIS IS ONLY FOR OFF-ROAD USE! While companies like Rancho and
offer inexpensive devices to allow quick and easy swaybar disconnection, the
same effect can be achieved using a socket wrench and T-55 Torx driver.
Connected, bolt in place.
Disconnected, bolt removed.
Disconnected, swaybar moved.
It is only necessary to remove a bolt from one side, but it is better
to remove both and to swing the swaybar up out of the way so the parts
cannot be damaged. NOTE: Be SURE to reconnect before returning to the
highway! Without the swaybar in place, the Jeep will have a tendency
to "roll" and "pitch", and may become un-maneuverable.
A lot of extra wheel travel is one benefit of disconnecting swaybars.
What does this mean? It means that all four wheels are more likely to stay
on the ground, where they belong, to provide traction. For even more flex,
check out TKSliders disconnects for the rear swaybar.
Disconnecting the swaybar before off-roading can help prevent hanging tires in the air, where they'll spin uselessly.
Step Two: Airing Down
|What you want: A wide tread patch, creating TRACTION!
||Full tires just want to dig
Airing-down tires is an excellent way to gain traction when it's done
properly. While airing-down to only 20PSI might get you onto the trail
quickly, it's really not enough to gain any useful traction. On the other
hand, 5PSI could quite possibly leave you stranded on the trail trying to
figure out how to re-set your bead(s).
To air-down correctly, tires should be sitting between 8 and 15PSI,
depending on tire size, vehicle weight, and the tire's composition
(some tires have much softer sidewalls). Watch the tires as the air is
released, and notice the sidewalls start to "bulge" as the weight of the
Jeep presses down on them. (You want enough air to hold the bead, but as
far as traction is concerned, less air is better; just make sure you're
not riding on completely flat tires).
The best way to understand how traction is gained by airing-down may be
to imagine a flat tire compared to an inflated tire; picture how much more
of the flat tire's tread is in contact with the pavement.
Always air-up before returning to the highway for safety and to prevent tire damage. To air-up quickly and safely,
check out Advanced Air Systems Power Tank.
|Kelly Safari MSR
||BFG Mud Terrain
In the above photos, notice how the aired-down tires (the Kelly Safari
MSR in particular) appear to wrap themselves around the rock.
Recommended pressures for some common tire sizes:
Figures courtesy of Oasis Off Road Manufacturing
|Vehicle Weight è
||Suggested Tire Pressure in Lbs.
There's cheap, and then there's easy. Here are the items we use
to disconnect, air-down, and reinflate on the trail.
Airing Down: Oasis Trailhead Deflators
Install and forget! Set your Oasis Trailhead Deflators to the desired PSI,
screw them on, then head out onto the trail - it's that easy! No more removing the
valve-assemblies (ever lost one of those?) and waiting around for
them to deflate. The best way we've found yet to air-down. Completely automatic!
The Oasis Automatic Trailhead Deflator kit includes 4 deflators, adjustment
tool, low-pressure air guage, and instruction manual.
Airing Up: Powertank by Advanced Air Systems
These things are GREAT! Very fast for airing up, AND they allow you to
run air tools on the trail. The CO2-filled Powertank airs-up our
33x9.50x15's in only 36 seconds!! Very reliable, and can be easilly refilled at
your local fire-extinguisher service center. Click here for
Disconnecting: Rancho Quick Disconnects
Breaking out the Torx to remove your swaybars can get old in a real hurry.
Quick-Disconnects like Rancho's can make this cumbersome task a breeze!
Simply remove the pins and center piece and you have instant extra flex.
* = Though they are actually anti-swaybars, they are most commonly
as "swaybars", and are used mostly to reduce vehicle leaning