A little while back I wrote on here about my experience with Cooper S/T MAXX tyres. They had given me 6 years of service and over 90k kilometres in distance on all sorts of surfaces.
Given we were about to head off again into the Simpson Desert and the tyres were a little over halfway worn we decided to upgrade prior to travel. We’ve always recommended that for trouble free travelling, at least on big trips, that you replace your tyres if they are more than 50% worn.
I’d had no failure on outback trips with these tyres so I had no hesitation in replacing them same for same. In the end we got our tyres fitted and balanced just in time for our trip away to the Simpson Desert.
We’ve all got to travel along bitumen, dirt and other track surfaces to get to where we are going so while we all have different tastes, the 50/50 split of onroad and offroad suits us well. The Cooper S/T MAXX is a light truck tyre with 3 ply sidewalls so it provides more tearing and impact resistance for when we are offroad and prone to potential staking.
I could get all fancy and quote the tech spec’s off the Cooper Tires website but when it comes down to it we shell out quite a bit of money on tyres and we all just want to know that we get value for money and decent mileage from our purchase.
On this trip we spent time in the Flinders Ranges at Willow Springs and the popular Skytrek track before heading up the Oodnadatta Track to Mt. Dare.
From Mt. Dare we headed across the Simpson Desert via the Rig and WAA roads to the Aprodinna Knolls Track, up to the French Line and then along the QAA Line into Birdsville. Our group consisting of six cars and 12 people had a great time with trouble free motoring.
From the start as soon as we got into the desert proper we dropped down from our unsealed road driving tyre pressures of 25psi down to 18psi all round in the Prado. We’ve found these pressures give us the best result and enable us to lower our speeds while traversing dunes.
A few falls of rain about halfway across gave us the opportunity to drive in the wet and I was happy to see (and hear) the tyres expelling mud as we drove along. The traction afforded by good grip also ensured that even on the wet, slippery surfaces of the salt pans we were able to keep the car under control.
After 4 nights and five days in the Simpson Desert we drove up on top of Big Red and our companions had a play driving up and down the various tracks before we headed into Birdsville for a welcome shower.
With the increasing traffic in the Simpson Desert comes more and more track damage. I’m constantly amazed when I hear people bragging about not letting their tyres down or trying to cross in 2wd, or worse still, towing heavy trailers across that bounce around making huge holes on the steeper dunes.
Why Tyre Pressures Matter
Sometimes you just have to show people the difference between driving on a higher pressure to a lower pressure.
It’s pretty easy to see that by lowering your pressure you put more tread on the ground. More tread spreads the load over a greater area and lessens the potential for sinking into softer ground.
We led our party most of the time and we were jokingly accused of having the easier run each time someone in our group had a little difficulty cresting a dune. So later on, we sat at the rear of our convoy just to prove the point.
Each dune that others had a bit of trouble on we just motored up steadily and without fuss. Tyre pressures certainly contributed and I had the confidence that even if I did have difficulty that I could let them down further without worrying about damaging the tyres or popping the bead.
For our unseasoned desert travellers it took us half the journey just to get them to slow down to desert travel time. Instead of rushing through to get to the other side we finally got them to take it easy and enjoy the journey.
Once out of the desert we had a couple of days in Birdsville before saying our goodbyes to our travelling companions. We however, had not gotten the desert out of our system and decided to do a south to north traverse along the Hay River Track.
Hay River Track
The permit turn around was quick and luckily for us on the third day with permit in hand we headed back out into the desert all alone. Whilst we enjoyed having people with us for this trip it was nice to revert back just to Amanda, myself and the solitude of the desert.
We took 5 days at a leisurely pace heading up the track. On day 2 we encountered famed desert walker Denis Bartell who at 88 years old was out visiting spots he had walked to many years previously, only this time he was being driven in the luxury of a 4WD.
The Hay River Track has way less dunes to traverse and after a day’s driving it curves in and around the swales and then into the flood out of the Hay River itself. On the tracks themselves it is rare to puncture, much less lose a tyre, and we motored along at our 18psi without drama.
Once we got out to the Plenty Highway we aired up to 25psi and stayed on this pressure until we again hit the sealed roads and aired up further to 35psi. Some people we know couldn’t be bothered airing up and down to suit conditions, but we have found that this gives us the best return on tyre wear and tear.
The proof is in the pudding and our previous tyres can attest to this. With any luck so will this set of Coopers and this is why we also recommend Cooper Tires.
We stayed in Alice Springs for a few days catching up with our kids and then started the long drive home. All in all, we had a great trip, complimented by trouble free driving.
Of course, once we got home within a few days we were ready to head off again. I wonder where our next trip will take us.
NB: Our tyres were supplied by Cooper Tires