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Old 08-06-2020, 12:15 PM   #1
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Air down for non technical dirt roads?

We are looking at ~85 miles of dirt road driving next weekend and curious if people generally air down for comfort when driving long dirt distances? My impression of the road is that it is NOT technical but will be plenty of washboard / rocky bits to pick our way through (10-15 mph is what we're figuring on averaging).

I'm familiar with airing down for sand or serious rock crawling, but would I be gaining some level of comfort (and maybe even less annoying tire hop on uphill washboard) if I dropped the PSI?

I usually run pretty high (E rated tires, 80 rear / 65 front) on the highway since we're a heavy beast (1994 EB 4x4 with 460), would I just drop to like 50 & 50? 40 & 50?

Thanks in advance,

-- Bass
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:23 PM   #2
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I would recommend you air down in general. That's WAY too much psi for a comfortable ride on road with an older Econoline. The steering and suspension pre 97 was not near as good. My 92 and 95 vans (same as yours) were downright scary running over 65 psi. I ran 50-55 in them after I learned how it completely changed the handling of the van and never went back. You will not see more heat, shorter life or anything else from an e-rated tire running them at lower psi unless you go below like 30.

For mild offroading? No air down necessary. Your high psi in general is what's making the ride so uncomfortable. I perosnally don't air down in anything until I have to off-road wise.
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:40 PM   #3
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I would recommend you air down in general. That's WAY too much psi for a comfortable ride on road with an older Econoline. The steering and suspension pre 97 was not near as good. My 92 and 95 vans (same as yours) were downright scary running over 65 psi. I ran 50-55 in them after I learned how it completely changed the handling of the van and never went back. You will not see more heat, shorter life or anything else from an e-rated tire running them at lower psi unless you go below like 30.
Err, umm, OK, that's not what I expected. I was under the impression higher pressures were going to give me, for lack of a better word, "tighter" handling at highway speeds. It's been a while (probably back when I was running C rated tires on the 16.5" wheels because that was all I could get) but I seem to recall I felt like we were wallowing around handling wise (not necessarily comfort wise) at lower pressures.

I also thought I needed to be at or near max pressure to carry the weight, so thanks for that heads up too.

Thanks for the input, while I'm still near home and the big compressor I'll do some road testing and see what the different pressures feel like.
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:10 PM   #4
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I run 55/80 on my 96 4*4 with 460 and Agile RIP. Great on the highway. Lots of folks here do a similar set up with 10k lb vans. 65 is too high in the front. Too much bouncing with that much air.

Yes, I recommend airing down on harsh off road areas. I've been doing 50/50 lately and it is noticeable in making long washboard roads better. Would go lower but don't have a nice on board compressor like some members do.
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:11 PM   #5
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I air down for long gravel roads
Highway 60/65
Gravel 50/55 or 40/45 with washboards
Sand or Rocks 30/35

Reduces probability for punctures, better traction, more comfort... Though the truth is that there is little comfort on washboards... Just go slow, continuously look for the most comfortable place on road
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:19 PM   #6
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Though the truth is that there is little comfort on washboards... Just go slow, continuously look for the most comfortable place on road
In my '85 4Runner I do subscribe to the "5 or 50" theory for washboard... the big van not so much
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Old 08-06-2020, 02:01 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Marcel Huijser View Post
I air down for long gravel roads
Highway 60/65
Gravel 50/55 or 40/45 with washboards
Sand or Rocks 30/35

Reduces probability for punctures, better traction, more comfort... Though the truth is that there is little comfort on washboards... Just go slow, continuously look for the most comfortable place on road
^^^^Same guidelines for tire pressure I subscribe to^^^^
and the bold print defines it all.
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Old 08-06-2020, 02:50 PM   #8
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Having done close to 150 miles on rutted forest service roads in Colorado and Wyoming this past weekend. I very much recommend the air down. I only went to 50/55, but probably should have gone to 40/45, so I could have gone faster than 10 to 15 MPH. Learning since I am a still very much a noob on vans. My ride is E-350 2014 4X4 SMB.
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Old 08-06-2020, 02:53 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Marcel Huijser View Post
I air down for long gravel roads
Highway 60/65
Gravel 50/55 or 40/45 with washboards
Sand or Rocks 30/35
I agree with this too, except for soft sand without rocks, I run 15.

For highway PSI, all van owners should do themselves a favor and weigh their vans, and find their ideal pressure on an inflation chart. *Some* actually do need 80 psi out back, but many don't.
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Old 08-06-2020, 04:58 PM   #10
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Air down for non technical dirt roads?

Yup.....as others here have said, youíll notice a big difference in ride comfort by airing down, even on gravel roads, esp washboard. Iíll add that running pressure does depend on what your particular tireís max cold psi is, mine is 65, and unless Iím towing, I donít like to run them at their max, too harsh for on road comfort and not necessary. Experiment a bit and youíll find the right balance, it obviously helps to have or carry an onboard compressor for easy fill ups.
I normally run 55/60
For short stints on gravel roads, I usually donít bother airing down.
Gravel, washboard, mixed hwy- 45/50 or 40/45 if rough
Rocks/off road, sand- 35/40
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