Tire Maintenance on Your Off-Road Vehicle

lone atv

When you’re miles away from the nearest anything, the last thing you want is to blow a tire. The leading cause of tire failure everywhere is under-inflation, and off-road vehicle tires take a lot of punishment so are especially vulnerable, which means maintaining the correct tire pressure is critical.

Most ATVs have relatively small, low-pressure tires while motorcycle tires may or may not be low pressure – depending on the make and model. The owner’s manual will give you the exact pressure range you should be operating at. Check the tire pressure frequently because over and under inflation can result in tire or wheel damage, and will certainly change the handling characteristics of your machine.

Be sure that all tires have the same pressure to avoid having the vehicle pull to one side. Before you ride, inspect tires for any damage that could cause an air leak, and be aware that altitude will affect tire pressure. A pressure that reads ok at home will read lower when you take your vehicle into the mountains. When checking, use a low-pressure gauge for an accurate reading. Most standard automobile tire gauges won’t necessarily read low pressures correctly.

Besides the impact on vehicle handling, incorrect tire pressure also leads to uneven and premature tire wear especially on the tires outer edges, and it actually increases fuel consumption.

Keep the tires sized right. Suspension provides lift but tires give you ground clearance. Larger tires add weight which puts an increased stress on steering components, reduces gas mileage, and could strain performance or contribute to an eventual broken axle. The ground clearance difference between 33″ and 35″ tires is less than an inch and decreases as you air down.

You should inspect the tires prior to every ride, checking for abnormal and uneven tread wear, bulges, cracks and signs of puncture. If you find damage that’s not too severe, repairs can often be done from the inside of the tire when it’s off of the wheel. In an emergency, a sealing compound can be useful in enabling the vehicle to move to a safe location, but these compounds should never be considered a permanent solution.

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