If you think getting a flat tire while driving your car is a royal pain then you've never experienced a flat tire while riding an ATV.
Going flat while working on the farm is a best case scenario that allows you to roll back to the garage for an easy fix but going limp miles from camp can be dangerous especially if you failed to bring along the tools to fix it. You don't want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere trying to push-roll home a 400 pound machine on a flat tire.
So heed this warning: When riding your ATV always bring a flat tire repair kit.
Before we get into fixing a flat tire there's a famous saying that applies to ATV riding - An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Of course you can't eliminate the chance of a flat tire 100 percent, however, you can reduce the possibility by taking some precautions.
How to Prevent a Flat Tire on Your ATV
The first step is checking the air pressure before heading out and knowing the terrain you're tackling. Riding on rocks with overinflated tires almost guarantees a flat and sometimes results in a larger puncture that is not fixable.
See that fallen log with bone dry branch stubs sticking out? Avoid it. That's the second step. Dodge obstacles that could puncture or tear a tire. Riding over rocks requires your full attention because of the jagged points and sometimes razor sharp stone edges.
You'll also want to avoid balls-to-the-wall riding when navigating through rugged terrain because the faster and harder you ride the more likely you'll miss something or turn a normally tame obstacle into a tire popping dagger.
Finally, add Slime inside your tires. This product is popular for use on bicycle tires but is also widely used with ATV riders. Slime is a tire sealant that repairs small holes like those from a thorn bush but won't work for punctures bigger than a quarter-inch long or sidewall tears.
Tire sealant like Slime also works great on dune or paddle tires. You won't worry too much about trail style obstacles on the sand but some manufacturers buff down old tire carcasses to make the paddle tires and as a result are prone to slow leaks.
How to Repair a Flat ATV Tire
The quickest and most convenient method to fixing a flat is plugging the tire. This is where the flat tire repair kit comes into play. The most common kit sold is the Stop & Go Tubeless Tire Plugger. Make sure this in onboard your ATV when riding trails or anywhere that takes you even a short distance from camp.
The best thing about using plugs is you don't have to remove the tire. Here are the steps to plugging a flat tire:
- Locate the puncture and clean the area around it.
- Insert the jagged tool through the puncture to ensure it's free of debris and chap the edges of the hole
- Scoff up the area around the puncture
- Add cement to the area around the puncture
- Lace a plug through the eye of the install tool and insert into the puncture removing the tool once inside
- Use the CO2 cartridges to inflate the tire.
- Check for leaks
- Keep riding
The old school method of patching a tire works but its far more cumbersome and most riders don't use it anymore. This requires taking the wheel off your ATV and removing the tire from the rim in order to apply the patch. If you rode bikes as a kid its similar to how you used to patch your bicycle tires.
Another tool you should bring is a pressure gauge to ensure adequate inflation of the repaired tire. If you didn't bring one or discover you need additional air it's best to take an easy ride back home and get the tire properly inflated. You can bring along a tire pump but most tend to be a bit big. The C02 cartridges should at the very least get you home.
Most if not all ATV tires are tubeless but installing tubes isn't a bad idea. Tubes can be used as a preventative, though you'll have to remove the wheel and tire for any repairs, or install them after a repair for extra protection. We offer inner tubes for 6-inch through 12-inch rims.
A tire plug cannot help you in the event of a sidewall tear or large puncture or blowout. The only fix in this case is replacing the tire or installing an inner tube.
Lastly, plugged tires often ride out a while and some ATV owners leave it until the tire needs changing from regular wear, however, it's always best to get a new tire as soon as possible. The integrity of a plugged tire is obviously not as good as a new tire and it'll always be in the back of your mind when riding.
Written By: AndrewT