Choosing the Right ATV Tire Pressure for Different Terrains

Choosing the Right ATV Tire Pressure for Different Terrains

Choosing the Right ATV Tire Pressure for Different Terrains

0 comments 📅01 June 2016, 14:02

After all the time, research and comparing that you did in finding the perfect ATV, maintenance and especially preventive maintenance should be utmost in your mind.  What pressure you should be running in your ATV tires?  Did you know that different terrains require different tire pressure? Do you know PSI stands for the amount of force or Pounds per Square Inch?

Mud is mud, right?  Wrong, at least when it comes to tire pressure of off road vehicles.  From sandy, soupy mud to thick red clay, your tire pressure will need to change.  The same with running over rocks or sand dunes.

Check the Air Pressure

Check the air pressure in all tires before each ride. However, there are many opinions about the exact tire pressure needed.  Some considerations include: type of vehicle, size of the ATV, weight of people on the ATV, and of course the ground to be covered.  But one idea remains the same, airing down (reducing tire pressure).  One of the key tips is airing down to help in mud and most for off-road driving. But airing down in the mud could turn the other direction because airing down will help you gain traction when traction is hard to find in seemingly bottomless mud.  On the other hand, reducing the tire pressure in hard bottom mud can sometimes reduce the traction.  A tire that is aired up to a higher pressure will not ride smoothly and may damage the tire itself.  Another thing to consider is that reducing air pressure allows hidden dangers in the mud topotentially damage your tires. Reducing the air pressure could mean that your tires will provide better traction over the barriers, as the tire conforms.  So it’s an owner’s call based on the owner’s manual for that particular ATV and experience in particular situations than anything else.

Recommendations for Air Pressure

Printed on the sidewall of the tire is a specific number stating the air pressure that is recommended by the manufacturer of the ATV. The maximum recommended pressure is usually the number on the sidewall and is straight from the tire manufacturer. Damage to the cords can happen by exceeding this pressure. Also, tire can potentially rupture, causing injury.

There are the air pressure recommendations by the ATV manufacturer and suggestions for different terrains that you may be traveling. But again it is depending upon possible loads and the way you use the machine. This safeguards that the tire will last longer and the best traction will be achieved. If there is too much pressure, then the center of the tire will be the only place making contact with the trail. This will create reduced traction and premature wear. However, not enough air in the tire and you wear out the sidewall which can end in a punctured tire. Too low air pressure can allow the tire sidewall to flex too much also causing punctures. When a tire has too little pressure, this allows the sidewall to move too much pinching the tire between rocks, sticks and other debris on the trail. This will tear a hole in the sidewall, an expensive fix. Always check the ATV’s owner’s manual. You can also contact your local ATV dealer for manuals. The dealer should be able to give you the suggested air pressure information from the manufacturer.

Always start out with the ATV recommended tire pressure by the manufacturer. The only reason you should have a higher pressure is if you are carrying heavy loads every day. If you increase the pressure of the tire when you are carrying a heavy load, you need to be sure to return it to the recommended tire pressure when the load is finished.

Even Tire Pressure

The pressure should be the same on each axle.  If the ATV owner’s manual suggests the rear tires need a certain amount, then both left and right rear wheels should be the same pounds of pressure. The same goes for the front tires, make pressure of both the tires equal.  On the front wheels, you need to be exact because if the tires are aired differently the vehicle could handle unpredictably. Also, a professional tire gauge is always needed in your tool box.  Sometimes cheaper is not always better when it comes to your safety.  Most dealers or auto parts stores will have these.

Specific Recommendations

If you are prepared for camping all weekend and have all your gear on board, you may want to run 8 to 9 PSI. For rocky terrain, usually 3 to 4 PSI is suggested.  The same 3 to 4 for snow or sand.  For areas that are more hard packed, and you are running at higher speeds, 7 to 8 PSI is the recommendation. Most reference 5 to 6 PSI for normal trail riding.

As stated before, always reference your owner’s manual.  With all the different styles, weights, and designs of ATVs, a general assumption may not work for your particular machine.

Below are 2 charts that may serve as helpful references:

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