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What tyre pressures should I run on my 4×4 when driving K’gari (Fraser Island?)

Reader question:

Hi Robert! I’m heading to Fraser Island next week in my GWM Cannon. I’m aiming for around 17psi (traction control off) to get to the ferry on soft sand. Do you think these pressures are fine for the more compact sand where the speed limit is 80kph?

Well, I could answer that, but as I read this comment I was chatting with Dave from Australian Offroad Academy who pretty much lives on the island, whereas I’ve been once, 20+ years ago. So I asked him to answer and it’s your lucky day, he did, in detail! Here’s what Dave had to say:

Fantastic to hear. You’ll have an excellent time on K’gari – shame that your visit lines up with school holidays but hopefully you’ll be inspired to come back when it’s quieter (and lovelier).

It’s excellent that you’ve identified that your tyre pressures will be important (and your Traction Control – we’ll come to this). I’d suggest that, whist 17psi will likely give you trouble-free motoring, you probably don’t need to go that low.

Our advice is to consider a drop of at least 25% from your highway pressures, down to a drop of 50%. If conditions are good (such as recent rain, few bogans in 2H @45psi, then it’s quite reasonable for you to see all that you’d like to see whilst sitting on around 24/25psi.

There’s definitely some advantage to only reducing your pressures to the point where you achieve your goal. I would encourage you though to monitor the conditions – a few days in the mid 30s on school holidays might lead you to feel like you could drop your pressures a little more. Get yourself a quality air compressor so you have no concerns or misgivings about making changes to your pressure should you need to. (I did say ‘quality’).

Now, to the Traction Control, little bit of pedantry here, but it could help to clear up possible confusion down the track or up the beach. It’s absolutely correct of you to temporarily deactivate your Stability Control – it’s a cool and clever thing, but it’ll likely get in your way on sand. Your Cannon has Stability Control in High Range, and Traction Control in Low Range and High Range. In Low Range, Stability Control is automatically deactivated. So, yes, switch off your Stability Control – follow the instructions for your vehicle as this operation is inconsistent even with the same brand of car. Do not cause yourself a moment of concern about your Low Range Traction Control – it’ll do its thing, if and when needed, and not cause you any inconvenience.

Obviously you’ve checked the tides and have put together a bit of a plan to see the best bits without attempting to travel on the beach anywhere near high tide (big tides at Easter)??? Have a fantastic trip, take your time, make a list of places to come back to when it’s (much) quieter.

I’d just add that even if the speed limit is 80, there’s no need to actually drive that fast. Others will..their life, their risk. Anyway, here’s the video that was commented on:

And this one explains brake traction control:

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