Repair or Replace Your ATV Tires?
July 18, 2018
ATV riding is great for exploration; off-road vehicles allow for adventures in all types of terrain. A sure way to bring the fun to an end quickly is to have tire problems. Midwest Traction put together a list of tools to consider packing in your ATV storage to keep your adventures rolling. Even the most rugged all-terrain tires can't ward off the likelihood of an unfortunate event. Have these in your arsenal to fend off flats.
For the Trail
Tire Repair Kit
Great for punctures and flats, tire repair kits come loaded with a variety of items to assist in unexpected misfortune. Most kits contain an eye tool, plugs, patches, rubber cement, an adapter and CO2 cartridges. This combination should get you back on the trail quickly and safely for small repairs. Components may vary kit-to-kit but many will have a needle-like tool and self-vulcanizing thread. You will want tire sealants and low-pressure gauges. Many high-quality sealants can adequately address a handful of small punctures simultaneously.
Not all ATV tire punctures are the same, of course, so it is critical that drivers properly inspect their tires to determine if it's a self-fix situation or something that requires professional assistance.
To use the tool and thread, feed the thread through the tool and insert into the puncture. Turn the needle and wind the thread to seal. Remove, trim the thread and adjust pressure accordingly. It's simple, fast, and affordable at $5 per kit. You'll want to look into more permanent solutions when you return home, but this will do in a pinch.
Since ATV tires are designed to operate as a single unit, many repairs are deceptively complex. For starters, the tire needs to be fixed on both the inside and the outside. Additionally, punctures at depths of 3/16” or deeper cannot be repaired, as the structural damage is too great.
Always patch for short-term and take it to a shop for a permanent solution (often a replacement).
A relatively inexpensive investment, compressors boost pressure in the short-term until you're home to properly fix slow leaks or minute punctures.
Ironically, most riders have too much air in their tires. Over-inflating compromises performance, safety and tire life due to uneven wear. Follow the recommended PSI for your vehicle, and check your tires using a pressure gauge.
Tire removal is near impossible without one of these. Keep on hand in case of extreme circumstances.
Though not tools, ATV tire chains offer a valuable boost in traction when encountering slick terrain. Chains aren't just for snow and ice; they'll help get you out of mud, too. Practice applying chains before you take your ATV out. You'll want to know how to secure them properly before you're in an emergent situation. We also highly recommend investing in an adjuster to prevent damage to your vehicle should a chain come loose.
Bead Starter Strap
A portable device, this strap will make seating your tires a breeze. It applies even seating pressure to the tire bead without compressed air.
For the Shop
Whether you're a mechanic who missed their calling or just someone who likes to tinker with your toys yourself, tire tools will help make seemingly minor, but dramatic changes in performance. Always practice safety first and use caution. If you're a novice or something doesn't seem right, seek professional assistance.
First and foremost, you need tools to get the job done. If you're just starting out, CruzTools makes several kits that are easy to transport. If you already have tools, consider getting a portable kit that you can take with you for several other uses.
Some of CruzTool's kits are designed for specific uses, which means someone with a bunch of standard tools may benefit from a more specialized kit. While these are primarily designed for work on Harley-Davidsons, many of these tools will be useful when working on your ATV.
If you need specific tools for ATV parts exclusively, we recommend using those to avoid damage.
This tool comes in many different sizes and applications. They'll help you smoothly and easily remove your tire from the rim. Know what your needs are and consult with a hardware store for the best product for you.
This item is around $150, but if you're a frequent rider who likes to switch from one tire application to another, you'll find it's worth the cost.
Tire Iron or Spoon
If you're on a budget, skip everything else and invest in this tool. You'll use it more than any of the others.
Though small, it's a tool you'll want on hand to install or remove the core of your tire without causing external damage. Many overlook or forget about it completely.
Big traction bars are great for the right application. But what happens when they start to wear? Tread cutters allow you to trim away rounded corners to restore tread grip.
The safest way to stabilize your ATV during any type of maintenance. Don't cut corners here; the damage done to you or your vehicle should any other type of "propping device" fail is not worth it.
Bead Seating Tank
Generally a 5-gallon air tank, this tool helps air get into hard-to-fill tubeless tires.
ATV Tire Overview
Let’s run through a few quick tire basics: application, sizing, and wheels (which are different than tires).
Choosing the right tires will maximize your vehicle use while lengthening the life of your tire treads. A lot of farmers and co-ops use ATVs as transportation vehicles. This requires less aggressive treads that provide more stability on hard surfaces. If you love mud, not all tires are capable of paddling through slop and water. Sand tires are specifically designed to dig into the loose surface and propel you forward. Choosing the appropriate tire for your terrain will save time, effort, and money in the long run. Do your research! These articles may be helpful:
A 4X4 quad transmission is set to run on tires with a predetermined rolling circumference. All four tires must roll at an equal speed in order to avoid binding the transmission. Stock tires are the correct circumference. If your quad came with 25-8.00-12 front and 25-10.00-12 back tires and you’ve made no alterations to your vehicle, those are the sizes you need.
ATV tire manufacturers have no set specifications to follow when producing tires. This means one manufacturer's 25-8.00-12 tire could measure 26.2 inches tall, while another could measure 24.5. If you aren't replacing all four, maintain the same model, or make sure the new specifications match the original.
If you plan to increase size, you must increase all four. For instance: if you have 25-8.00-12 tires on the front and 25-10.00-12 tires on the back, replace the front tires with 27-8.00-12 & the back tires with 27-10.00-12. Notice how everything else stays the same, but 25 increases to 27 on all four tires. Note: Check manufacturer specifications for clearance minimums.
Use the Right Wheels
Two-wheel drive units are not as specific because there is no transfer case. Clearance is the largest consideration when modifying for taller or wider tires. When changing width, consider your current wheels. Can they support the new tires? Wide tires on narrow wheels cause crowning, which makes the tire balloon. This leads to uneven wear and minimizes traction. The same is true of the reverse; too narrow a tire on too wide a wheel causes the tire to stretch, leading to steering issues and risking the tire getting knocked off the bead upon contact.
Changing Your ATV Tires
Tires aren't glamorous, but they play a crucial part in the way your vehicle performs. Often overlooked, tire problems generally start small and snowball into something far more costly and damaging if left unattended. Check pressure regularly, replace leaky valves, check for dry rot, and keep track of tire rotation. The recommended examination frame is to check your tires every time you service your machine. Use the right tools in your workshop and take some out on the trail.
Changing ATV tires is an important part of maintaining your vehicle. Expenses add up if you take your vehicle to a shop every time something needs to be installed or repaired. Often, when purchasing new ATV tires, the store will charge a fee to mount them for you; but if you are familiar with using a few tools, and can follow instructions, you could be well on your way to saving that money by doing it yourself.
Most of the tools you'll need can be found in your home or garage. It is important to exercise caution at all stages of power vehicle maintenance, and if you are not confident, we recommend you seek assistance from a professional.
Before proceeding, consult your ATV manual for model-specific instructions.
- Using a socket wrench to detach the wheel. Carefully remove the valve stem to deflate the tire.
- Wedge the end of a tire iron or tire spoon between the rim and tire to aid in leverage, enabling you to pull the tire over the edge of the rim.
- Insert another spoon in the gap and slowly work your way around the edge by pressing the irons/spoons in opposite directions.
Tip: To slide the tire off easily, fill a spray bottle with a mix of soap and water. Spray along the area where the tire and rim meet.
- Spray the inside of the new ATV tire with soapy water to help it slide onto the rim.
- Using a rim protector between the rim and tire, use a tire iron or spoon to pull the rest of the tire onto the rim.
- Replace the valve stem core.
- Slowly fill the tire with air. When the air fills the tire and seals it to the rim, you will hear two-pops. Upon the second pop, stop.
Break In New Tires
Trying out new tires is a sensation quite unlike any other. For the ATV enthusiast, the impact is immediately felt: better handling, greater acceleration, and increased grip in rough and rocky terrain. Everything a rider requires.
But it's precisely this excitement than can contribute to reckless accidents. In order to avoid undue injury, we recommend taking precautions when breaking in your new ATV tires. Here are a few things to keep in mind: Your brand new tires, even if they're the same make and model, will handle very differently from the previous set. Understand that grip will be vastly different. Always wear safety gear, and if you need new ATV tires, check out our huge offering!