Getting a flat tire on an ATV is a fairly common occurrence, and if you’re not prepared for it, it can be a huge hassle too. The best case scenario is you get a flat tire near home, or near your vehicle. But most of the time it happens miles away on the trails. If you didn’t bring the right tools it becomes a major pain, and could be dangerous too.
The last thing you want is to be miles from home with a flat tire you can’t fix. You’ll have to ride on a flat tire, which could cause even more damage to your machine, or worse, you could have to push your few hundred pound machine with a flat tire all the way back. Trust me, you definitely want to prevent a scenario like this.
It happened to me before, I got a flat tire a couple miles from home, and had no flat tire repair kit with me. I still drove the quad back home with a flat tire, but that ended up banging my rim up pretty badly and shredding my tire up. What started out as a simple flat tire fix turned into me needing a whole new tire and rim, it was a bad day. I highly recommend at least keeping a small Tire Repair And Inflation Kit (link to Amazon) on your machine for emergencies.
How To Repair A Flat ATV Tire
The easiest and fastest way to fix a flat tire out on the trail, is to plug it. This is where having the tire plug and inflation kit comes into play. You don’t need to remove the tire to plug it with the kit, which is definitely a good thing on the trail. And the kit comes with CO2 cartridges to fill the tire back up and keep you riding.
Here is a step by step of how to fix a flat on an ATV:
- Find the puncture and clean the area around it.
- Clear debris and and chap the edges of the hole by inserting the jagged tool through the puncture.
- Scratch up the area around the puncture
- Apply cement to the area around the puncture
- Thread a plug through the eye of the insert tool
- Insert plug into puncture and remove insert tool
- Cut the ends of the plug that are sticking out after cement had hardened (not required)
- Use the CO2 cartridge to inflate the tire
- Check for leaks, and keep riding
Having a Tire Pressure Gauge (link to Amazon) comes in really handy. If you don’t keep one on your ATV, take a slow easy ride back to camp to get your tire properly inflated. You can bring a pump with you on your ride, but they tend to be too big. I don’t carry one with me on the quad, but the CO2 cartridge is usually enough to at least get me back home or to the truck.
Once back to my truck, I am golden. I keep this Slime Power Spair (link to Amazon) in my truck at all times. This kit comes with enough plugs for years of punctures, and has all the tools you need to fix a flat tire. If we go on long group rides, we usually just bring this with us on one of the ATV’s. It connects to a 12v ATV battery using alligator clips, and really is the easiest way to go.
When you plug a tire, the integrity of the tire is compromised a little. It is recommended to replace a tire that has been plugged, but I usually have good luck just riding on it until I replace the tires from normal wear and tear. You are more likely to get a flat again, but for me, it doesn’t happen all that often, so I figure why waste the money buying new tires.
Plugging a tire this way won’t work if you get a sidewall tear or a large puncture in the tire. If you get a major blowout, the only way to fix it is to replace the tire or get an inner tube. I don’t use inner tubes because of how much extra work they are. If you ever need to fix an inner tube, you have to remove the wheel and tire, no thanks.
How To Prevent An ATV Flat Tire
The first, and easiest, step is knowing what kind of terrain you will be riding on and adjusting your air pressure accordingly. To learn more about ATV Tire Pressure, check this article. But the short of it is to aim for around 5-6 psi, a little less for sand or loose terrain. If your tires are over-inflated and you plan on riding through rocky terrain, you’re greatly increasing the chances of a flat tire. Do not over-inflate your tires, you are a lot more likely to get a flat.
Avoid sharp obstacles that could puncture or tear the sidewall of your tire. Fallen logs and sharp rocks are the most common things to look out for. Some rocks and stones have razor sharp edges. When you ride over rocks, give extra attention to where you’re putting your tires. Maybe skip on the aggressive driving when you’re in rugged terrain. The faster and harder you ride, the more likely you’ll get a flat because of something you didn’t see.
Finally, you could put some Slime Tire Sealant (link to Amazon) in your tires. This won’t work well for bigger punctures (1/4 inch) or for sidewall tears, but it will prevent small holes from giving you a flat tire. You simply put the Slime in your tire and it will help prevent you from getting a flat, or repair small leaks your tire may already have. When you do get a small leak, you can actually see the green goo seeping out of the tire, sealing it.
Next, I will go over some other tire flat prevention techniques. Before I begin though, I want to point out that I don’t use any of these methods. I simply make sure my tires are at 5 psi, maybe have some Slime in them, and have a Tire Repair And Inflation Kit stored on my ATV. I can’t recommend any of these methods because I have not used them myself.
Get Thicker Tires
If you are really worried about getting a flat tire, you could always get thicker walled tires for you quad. Most stock ATV tires are 4 or 6 ply, but you can get up to 12 ply tires. They will cost you a pretty penny and they weigh a lot more than standard tires, but are very resistant to punctures. You may have heard of run flat tires, well that’s what this is, it’s a thick enough tire to still be usable even if it does get a puncture.
There are many types of inserts out there. You basically put some kind of rubber or foam in between your tire and wheel to keep the tire from going flat. The problem with these is the hassle of dealing with them. You have to take the tire off the rim every time you want to replace one. If you’re racing for competition, this is an excellent way to avoid losing a race because of a flat tire. But for the average trail rider, this is too much work for what it’s worth.
Tire balls are just these little oval shaped urethane balls that fill the gap between your tire and the wheel. Similar to inserts, I wouldn’t use these because of the hassle. For racing though, they work great. In fact, many racers use products like these and win races doing it. The idea here is that even if you get a major puncture and a ball fails, you have many other balls in the tire so you can still finish the race.
Yet another form of tire insert, the tire blocks. Tire blocks are basically high density foam blocks that you put in your tire. They are light weight and made specifically for your tire size. The cool thing about these is that the fit is so snug that you don’t even need air in your tires at all. The foam is flexible and provides cushioning over bumpy terrain. They don’t feel quite like a standard air filled tire, but you could get a puncture with these and not even know it.