How to find the best tyre deflators
If you spend any amount of time travelling off-road either in sand or dirt, you will absolutely need to adjust your tyre pressures to best suit the terrain you’re travelling through. While most all-terrain tyres that are fitted to modern 4x4s are pretty capable in soft stuff at road-going pressures – anywhere between 28 and 34 pounds per square inch, or PSI - it’s astonishing just how much difference reducing that pressure by a few pounds per square inch can make.
Sand driving, for example, is immeasurably easier with tyres that are deflated by even as low as five or six PSI. But how do you accurately measure the amount of air rushing out of a tyre? It’s no longer a matter of poking a stick into the valve hole and counting to 10 – a tyre deflator is what you need.
Technically, that piece of stick on the side of the track will do as a deflator, but you lack the ability to control the flow of air escaping the tyre. The old bush trick of ‘one pound of pressure per second’ is a start, but it’s not much good if you don’t know the tyre pressure to start with.
Most deflators resemble a regular air pressure gauge, but with a special chuck that screws onto the tyre valve which allows the user to control how much air flows out of the valve, monitoring it on the analogue or digital gauge face as the air escapes.
Another style of deflator is known as the Staun tyre deflator, so named for the American company that invented it. It does away with the gauge, instead relying on an internal barometer that’s set to a predetermined figure; they are generally set to 18 psi out of the box, but can be internally adjusted to any figure you need.
Staun deflators are deceptively simple to use. Simply screw them onto the valve and… do nothing. The fitting allows the tyre to bleed down very quickly to the preset pressure without you having to do anything more.
The pros of a gauge-type deflator are obvious; you not only have a tool to deflate your tyre, but a device to measure how much air you need to put back in once you’re back on a firmer, flatter surface. It isn’t as small as a Staun deflator, though, and you tend to get what you pay for. A $20 special is unlikely to offer accurate pressure readings at either end of the scale, for example, and will likely fail at an inopportune moment out in the bush, as well.
Shaun deflators are not cheap, and their small form means there’s a greater chance of them getting lost, too. However, with a full set of four Stauns on the job, your tyres could be deflated and ready for off-road action in as little as a minute.
If you do venture off-road, it’s absolutely essential to be prepared, both with knowledge and with equipment. A tyre deflator is not only an important tool to properly measure the amount of air you’re removing from a tyre, but it will help you get further off road than you ever imagined.
Analogue gauge deflator – from $20 to $200
Digital gauge inflator – from $100 to $300
Stauns deflators - $90/set of four