The verdict is out, the old key in the tyre valve and ‘count to 30’ trick when letting down your tyres simply doesn’t cut it anymore. And with the huge variety of tyre deflators on the market available for less than the price of a good case of beer, they are one item that makes pure sense to have stashed in your glove box. After all, nothing will get you further off road for less money than the right tyre pressures.
The sad truth however, is not all items are created equal as we found out in the last product comparison we undertook, (see issue #12 of Unsealed 4X4) where we tested to destruction as many snatch straps on the market as we could find. So while most tyre deflators might look the same on face value, are they actually up to the task and will they perform as well as each other?
This is what we want to determine my friends, to once and all find out what is the best product available to deflate your tyre pressure for off-road use. We also want to see which deflator has the best construction, while offering the best bang for your buck. But you won’t find that info reading this intro… go on, get into it you lot!
For All The Info and Images, CLICK HERE
This might come as a surprise, but we don’t have a test lab here at Unsealed 4X4 HQ. We do however have the Unsealed 4X4 Garage! For this test, we borrowed Print Editor Sam Purcell’s spare tyre from his 130 Defender. As he has internal beadlocks, there are two holes drilled in the rim. One is for tyre inflation, and the other is to inflate the beadlocks. We removed the internal beadlock, and installed a spare tyre valve into the now vacant hole, so we had one valve for the test deflators, and one to measure and record pressure.
We used a tyre that is common to many four-wheel drivers, a 285/75R16 (33inch) and set it each time to 35psi. To measure and record tyre pressure, we employed a TD1300A-X tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) made by TYREDOG. The advantage of this system, is the wireless controller and simple screw-on valve sensors were quick to install and easy to use. The sensor was simply screwed onto one tyre valve and left there; each test deflator was then used on the second valve.
We also decided to cut the air hose, to measure how thick each of them was. We picked up a set of calibrated digital verniers to measure the wall thickness, the thickness of the protective sheathing as well as how big the internal hole was too. After all, the larger the hose the more air that should come out… right?
ARB EZ DEFLATOR
WHAT’S THE GO: We purchased the EZ Deflator from ARB Penrith over the counter for $69.
WHAT WE LIKED: The gauge was the most accurate out of all deflators tested, measuring bang on the mark on each test. It was also fairly quick, however there were slightly quicker units tested. The actual deflator mechanism was easy to use without being overly stiff, and the overall package felt to be of a good construction. The internal diameter of the hose was the second biggest on test too.
WHAT WE HATED: It is the most expensive out of the valve core removal tyre deflators tested… but not by much, and you are paying for quality so I guess that is a moot point really.
WHAT’S THE GO: We purchased the Dobinson deflator over the phone from the Sydney head office. It arrived two days later for a total of $56.
WHAT WE LIKED: The deflator was easy to use, with no stiffness or complaints. The storage pouch supplied was nice and small, and there were no audible leaks during testing. The hose was also nice and thick, and protected by an external sheath.
WHAT WE HATED: It felt kind of cheap, as did the storage pouch… and considering it wasn’t the cheapest unit tested cost wise is a shame. It was also off accuracy wise compared to other units tested. Annoyingly, the plastic face over the gauge also rattled around, indicating something isn’t quite right.
WHAT’S THE GO: Picked up from Supercheap Auto for $39.99. While it is not a valve core remover style tyre deflator, it is still a tyre deflator so why not include it?
WHAT WE LIKED: Well… not a lot really. It is a novel idea that saves you from having to remove the valve for deflation. But in the real world it wasn’t much chop. The hose construction was quite substantial however, which is worth mentioning.
WHAT WE HATED: In theory it should be quite easy to use, as the device simply screws onto the tyre valve, and you push down on it to allow air out then twist to lock the unit in place. But it was ‘twitchy’ to use, and also incredibly slow. It is also quite expensive for what you get and the carry pouch is infuriating to use with the zipper mounted on the sides rather the top of the pouch.
DUNE BIG RED
WHAT’S THE GO: Purchased from Anaconda for $39.99, making it the equal second cheapest valve core remover style tyre deflator in this test.
WHAT WE LIKED: The carry pouch is made from sturdy vinyl, and the gauge was nearly bang on accurate. It was also the second quickest deflator on the test too!
WHAT WE HATED: It leaked… BADLY! No matter what we tried, air would continue to escape from the deflator mechanism. The hose was of poor quality, looking like it was made from thin garden hose. The deflator mechanism was also stiff to use, and there appeared to be glue coming out from the hose join. So while it has benefits, it definitely isn’t without flaws.
GENERIC PENCIL GAUGE (SCA)
WHAT’S THE GO: Again, purchased from Supercheap Auto. And while not technically a tyre deflator, who here hasn’t used one to do the job before? We also wanted to see how accurate the cheap pencil slide type gauges are.
WHAT WE LIKED: They are dirt cheap to buy, easy to store and just as easy to use.
WHAT WE HATED: The deflation aspect was painfully slow, taking nearly 10 seconds to drop 1psi. The gauge side of things was also inaccurate, measuring under on all three testing components. Still, better than using a key, and for $5 or so, you can live with some of the shortcomings I suppose.
WHAT’S THE GO: We grabbed the Ironman unit over the counter from Penrith Off Road Warehouse for $65.
WHAT WE LIKED: It sounded as though it let out more air than the other units tested… there was a serious explosion of air when the deflator was activated! It was actually the second quickest unit tested, and pretty darn accurate too, with only lower pressures upsetting the accuracy by just .5psi during our test.
WHAT WE HATED: It is the second most expensive unit tested, but again has the figures to back up the sticker price, and would be a worthy addition in any recovery kit.
WHAT’S THE GO: We went out and bought the Opposite Lock deflator from Opposite Lock Penrith for $60
WHAT WE LIKED: It was the quickest, and it was the most accurate at lowest pressures too. The operation was silky smooth, and the gauge was quite simple to read.
WHAT WE HATED: The base of the hose was kinked during transit. It seems they tie this up too tightly, which caused that nasty kink. I cant help but feel this will only cause damage in the long run, as this is now a potential weak spot. The gauge was also out by 1psi at higher pressures. I know I know, but it is worth mentioning.
ROUGH COUNTRY (AUTOBARN)
WHAT’S THE GO: We strolled into Autobarn, and walked out $34.99 lighter with a deflator in hand.
WHAT WE LIKED: It is cheap, it works, and it looks to be screwed together really well. Which is a surprise from a less known brand, especially for the price. It was also simple to use, not stiff or jerky. The carry pouch is also of good quality.
WHAT WE HATED: The mid-range accuracy was a bit off which was strange. The gauge also needed to be reset by depressing the pressure release button. Not a real issue, it just needs mentioning. External sheathing was also a little thin, having said that this is the best bang for buck deflator on the market!
WHAT’S THE GO: We bought
these online and had them shipped to the office within two business days for $83.30.
WHAT WE LIKED: The simple screw on design, and the fact there are four pre-set deflators means you can do the walk around your vehicle deflating all tyres at once, rather than one tyre at a time.
WHAT WE HATED: They are slow, they are expensive and when you put those two facts together it is pretty safe to say the Stauns are out-classed these days by valve core removal deflators. Sure there will be Staun supporters, and the design definitely has its merits… I actually own a set! Put it this way though, after doing this test I won’t be buying them again.
TIGERZ 11 KWIKY
WHAT’S THE GO: Bought online from 4WD Supacentre and delivered in two days for just under $40
WHAT WE LIKED: The name made me laugh. HAHA… Kwiky. But in all seriousness, the gauge was pretty darn accurate, and the carry pouch was really small which is a good thing if you don’t have much storage space.
WHAT WE HATED: The fact it fell to pieces during our testing. By saving a few cents and using a metal O-ring instead of a decent circlip, the deflator mechanism comes apart with less effort than it takes to open a bottle of tomato sauce. It was also stiff to use, and there are obvious machining imperfections on the deflator mechanism too. Sorry, but for the money, there are better options!
If it were up to me, it would be a choice between the ARB or Ironman, as they were both quick, easy to use without any leaks and felt to be high quality with no machining flaws. Opposite Lock was the fastest, and only really loses points on the hose kink, which really is avoidable with a redesign of how they ship and package the unit.
BEST BANG FOR BUCK:
Man, the Rough Country from Autobarn was a bit of a secret weapon. It felt well made, and it was easy to use without any leaks or issues. It was also the cheapest valve core remover style deflator. In fact, if it were just slightly more accurate it would have won. If you are on a budget, this is the deflator for you!
You can do better for your money than both the Dune Big Red and the Tigerz11 Kwiky. The Dune unit leaked, was stiff and to be honest quite poorly put together. The Tigerz11 Kwiky was fairly accurate, but loses major points for that stupid metal O-ring used instead of a decent circlip. It was the only unit on this test that we could pull apart and with very little effort, thanks to the wrong part being used all in the name of saving a few cents per unit… (See the video to support this).
Words by Evan Spence, Photography by Brett Hemmings