To get the best performance from your tires and protect that expensive rubber, checking the tires should be an integral part of any pre-inspection of your ATV before embarking on an adventure. So, how can you prevent ATV tires from going flat? We've researched ATV tire maintenance so you can get the most out of your ATV tires.
Out on the trails, try to avoid hitting road hazards like potholes, exposed stumps, large rocks, and curbs. That should help prevent a flat ATV tire. You should also inspect each tire before and after each ride (or at least once per month) and look for:
- Cracks, punctures, or rips in the rubber.
- Sharp objects (nail, wood fragment, glass shard, etc.) stuck in the rubber.
- Clean, undamaged valve stems.
- Corrosion or dents on the wheel rims.
- Under-inflated or over-inflated tire pressure.
Below we discuss how to find that slow leak and accurately check operating PSI pressures before you hit the road. Keep reading because you will also find in-depth information on the procedures and techniques involved in the tire repair process. Plus, we'll explain how to prevent tire blowouts and provide guidance on tire pressure (PSI) setups for different terrains.
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ATV Tire Maintenance
ATV tires typically last between 1 to 2 years, or several hundred miles, depending on how well you maintain tires. Preventing damage due to road hazards is not always easy on rugged terrain, but keeping a keen eye to avoid hitting sharp objects will prevent a flat. Additionally, you want to inspect tires before you set out, to be sure to not overlook an easy repair or replacement before getting stranded.
Cracks And Punctures
A quick inspection will determine if your ATV tires are damaged. Look for obvious cracks, rips, or punctures in the rubber. After a particularly tough ride, you might even notice a remaining object stuck in your tire. Looking at the tires often is the simplest way to avoid a flat.
On inspection, the valve stems should be clean and not demonstrate any corrosion or cracking in the vicinity. If you have removed and replaced the valve stem cap, make sure not to overtighten the cap because it can damage the core of the valve.
Corrosion And Dents Near Wheel Rims
Tires can lose pressure through slow leaks near corroded rims or improperly fitted rims. If you observe damage near the rim, you might need to replace the tire and rim to make sure you have a secure fit. We'll soon discuss how to find a slow leak in more detail.
ATV tires that have decreased elasticity might be dry-rotting; this looks like a crumbling or cracking area on the tire and is typically found near the rims. Dry-rot leads to slow leaks and means the tire must be replaced.
Under-inflating or over-inflating ATV tires can be detrimental to how the vehicle handles the trail. We will discuss what the PSI should be for ATV tires in more detail, and you can find it on each sidewall of your tires.
How Do I Know If My Tire Has A Slow Leak?
Several factors can cause an ATV tire to lose air pressure and, as a result, compromise your ability to operate the ATV safely.
ATV tires operate at a lower pressure compared with road vehicles, so check tires regularly. Slow leaks can accrue due to temperature change, lack of use, damaged or worn out tires, tire rot, poor tire contact between the tire and the bead, or a simple slow puncture.
A quick check of the above should identify the problem, however detecting the leak can sometimes be difficult, so if you have access to a spray bottle, mix up a soapy solution and methodically work your way around the tire until you have identified the leak.
What Is The Best ATV Tire Sealant?
There are many types of sealants on the market today, so choosing the right sealant must address several factors, not the least, value for money.
Some types of sealants require a large amount of product to be injected into the tire. The main issue to look out for is, does it cause an imbalance in the tires, which will result in compromised handling of the ATV or a noticeable vibration coming from the wheels. Ideally, you need a sealant that uses as little product as possible to seal the tire if punctured while not affecting the performance of your ATV.
Most products today are environmentally friendly and are water-based, so cleaning off any residue is easily removed; these products also tend not to discolor or rust alloys or steel rims.
Some of the best sealant products are capable of seal holes as large as ½-inch in diameter and keep the hole plugged for up to two years or even the entire lifetime of the tire.
One such product that ticks all boxes is FlatOut tire sealant, sportsman formula.
What PSI Should My Quad Tires Be?
Tire pressures are very important, and you should always make a visual inspection of your ATV tires before use. There are different ranges of tire pressures that can maximize the performance of your ATV, depending on your activity.
Manufacturers suggest following recommended tire pressures for their specific vehicles. Also, be aware that the pressure rating on the sidewall of the tire is the maximum pressure to inflate the tire. Maximum pressure is typically used when seating a new tire onto the rim to ensure a good join between the tire and beading.
Normal tire pressures range between 6-7 psi. These ranges are for regular use and are best suited for surfaces such as roads, firm ground, or hard compacted turf or gravel terrains.
Soft surface pressures range between 2.5 to 4 psi; these low pressures are best suited for loose or soft mud, rocky surfaces, or loose snow. However, be careful not to get tire bite, meaning the rim presses down on the sidewall to pinch the tire, causing a tear on the hole. Bite typically happens when traveling over rocky surfaces.
You will need extra pressure to carry a load. For example, if you are carrying camping gear, heavy tools, an additional rider, or big game animal, you will need to adjust the pressure so that the tires can cope with the extra load and to maintain your ATV's safe handling. Do this in consideration of the type of terrain you will be traveling over.
Also, consider pressure differentials between the front and back tires; a slightly lower pressure to the rear will increase traction, helpful in very soft mud or loose snow. While leaving the front tires at their recommended pressure keeps the steering agile precise. However, always check that both tires on the same axle are at the same pressure. Always reset pressure to the recommended PSI levels when a particular activity is finished.
Concerning accuracy when setting your tire pressures - it is recommended to use a low-pressure ATV tire gauge so you can set the PSI precisely to the desired level.
You may find it easier to use a tire inflator with a gauge as this will save you having to switch between checking the pressure and then inflating and rechecking the pressure.
Pay particular attention to over or under-inflated tires, as either will result in uneven tire wear. Uneven wear is noticeable if the center of the tire face shows more wear than the outer tire treads; this is a sign of over inflation. Consequently, the reverse of this happens when the tires are under-inflated.
What Causes Tire Blowout?
Getting a tire blowout is quite a frightening experience, but more so if it's a front tire as your steering will be impacted. At speed, this can result in losing control of the ATV and possibly sustaining a severe injury. Therefore, pre-vehicle checks should include tires as well as water and oil. It would help if you familiarized yourself with the tell-tale signs, which could lead to a blowout.
Sidewalls are a vulnerable part of the tire, and good attention to the condition of these walls is paramount for safe driving.
- Check to see if there are any bulges or blisters, any abrasions or marks that could indicate damage from striking rocks or deep potholes.
- Check for signs of cracking on the walls of the tire, which occurs when driving an under-inflated tire for prolonged periods. Also, be on the lookout for signs of aging or tire rot; even UV rays can, over time, compromise the integrity of the tire.
- You will need to check both the outer and inner tire walls and tire face for nails or sharp objects that have embedded into the tread or wall.
If you do find any of these signs, you should have the tire checked out by a professional.
How Do You Fix A Flat ATV Tire?
Never ride an ATV without a puncture repair kit; it's that simple! Chances are when you get a puncture, and you will, it will be miles from home, and driving on a flat tire is not just dangerous but will end up costing you a new tire and rim. Given that these machines weigh at least 450 pounds trying to push one home with a flat is pretty much a non-starter.
Here are a couple of materials and tools you'll need to fix your ATV tire:
- A puncture repair kit.
- Low-pressure tire gauge.
- Tire sealant.
- Tire inflator.
Fixing an ATV tire is possible and a relatively quick process provided you have a puncture repair kit with you because this avoids the necessity of removing the tire as you will be inserting a plug into the hole.
With that said, here's how you go about it:
- Identify where the puncture is. For less obvious holes or slow leaks, use either a soapy solution in a spray bottle if to hand, or simply wet your finger to feel the cool jet of leaking air. Inflate the tire to maximum pressure and spray the tire, while looking for bubbles emerging from the leak.
- When you have identified the puncture, remove any foreign material or objects from the puncture site.
- Next, insert the jacked tool to clean out the hole, making sure you push through the hole a couple of times.
- Clean around the puncture site, making sure to remove any grease, oil, or mud. Use some abrasive paper to roughen the area around the hole, as this will give better adhesion and a stronger repair.
- Now apply the cement supplied in your kit around the site of the hole.
- Using the insert tool from your repair kit, tread the plug through the eye of the tool and insert it into the hole. Remove the tool making sure the plug is left behind.
- Let enough time pass before inflating, then use either the soap spray or saliva around the hole to check for leaks.
- If the repair is sound, inflate to the correct pressure, and off you go.
Now that you know how to keep ATV tires in optimal condition, and repair a puncture or leak out on the trail, you are ready to ride! But, before you head get informed on other types of ATV maintenance by reading our other blogs: