Due to the rough terrain that ATV tires are subject to, getting a rip or puncture in tires is not uncommon. However, rips are especially mind boggling for ATV owners who recently bought new tires. Get new tires is pricey and patching tires seems to be more economical, but can ATV tires actually be patched?
The good news is that ATV tires can be patched much like a regular car tire. Depending on the quality of the patch, the repair may even last a while before you have to worry about it. Patching an ATV tire can save you some money if you learn to do it yourself.
Patches aren’t permanent, especially for ATVs that are often driven on rocky terrain. If the patch doesn’t break, it’s possible to keep your tire until it’s time to change to a new one, although it’s recommended to get a new tire.
In this post, we will go over everything you need to know about patching up your tires.
Patching vs Plugging ATV Tires
There is a slight difference between patching and plugging of tires. Patching is usually done from the inside of the tire and on rips or sidewall tears. These rips will require a larger patch to cover the rip.
Plugging is usually done on the outside and works best for hole punctures caused by spikes or other sharp objects. The repair of these kinds of damages are usually pretty straight forward and requires a tire plug kit.
Patching an ATV Tire from the Outside (Fix Tire Puncture)
If you have tubeless tires, patching from the outside is probably the easiest option. You don’t need to remove the wheel. All you need is a tire repair kit and some CO2 cartridges.
No matter which tire repair kit you choose, it will usually come with the following items:
- A tire reamer
- A tire plugger
- Plug strings
- Rubber cement
Here are the steps you need to plug your tire using the tire repair kit:
- Locate the puncture and remove any puncturing objects. Be careful if you are pulling out sharp rocks.
- Insert the tire reamer into the hole and slide it up and down. This will clean and roughen the inside of the hole, prepping it for the plug.
- Thread 1 plug string into the tire plugger and coat it with rubber cement. Ensure that the plug string is center inside the eye of the tire plugger.
- Insert the plugger and plug string ⅔ of the way in the hole, do not twist.
- Pull plugger out with a rapid motion, you will have noticed that the plug strings will be left behind and plugs the hole nicely.
- Cut off excess plug material
- Reinflate the tire with CO2 cartridges. If you have a water bottle, apply some water on top of the plug to see if any bubbles form. If you see bubbles, wipe off the water and add a layer of rubber cement on top to help seal the leaks. If you don’t have a water bottle, place you finger over the plug and feel for leaks.
- If you got to this step, you’re done! Keep riding!
Patching an Atv Tire from the Inside (Fix Tire Slice)
Sidewall rips and tears are sometimes unavoidable and if you’re using tubeless tires, you need to be prepared to fix rips on the fly.
For slidewall rips, it’s best to patch the tire from the inside. This minimizes the chances that the patch will rub other objects outside of your tire, making your patch more secure.
For this fix you’re going to need to remove your tire from the rim. It’s recommended that you practice this at home by deflating your tires, that way you will know what to do even if you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Removing the ATV Tire from the Rim
For removing the tire from the rim, you will need two tire irons with flat blades that will be used to wedge the tire out of the rim.
Here are the steps you need to follow if you want to remove your ATV tire from the rim.
- I assume that your tire at this stage is somewhat deflated. If it’s not, remove the stem valve and push down on the nut the to release some pressure.
- Insert one flat blade between the edge of the ATV tire and the rim.
- Insert the other flat blade directly across from the first one. Insert it between the edge of the ATV tire and the rim.
- Bring the second flat blade to the first flat blade by sliding it around the rim of the wheel.
- Repeat steps 1 – 3 on the opposite edge of the tire.
Patch the Tire with a Patch Kit
Once you have removed the tire, the next step is to patch it from the inside. You will need a tire patch kit for this procedure. A tire patch kit will usually come with the following items:
- Tire Marker
- Tire Scuffer
- Rubber Cement
- Tire Patches
- Buffer Tool
Here is how you would use the tire patch tool:
- Use the tire marker to mark the spot that you want to patch. This is done on the inside of the tire.
- Use the tire scuffer to roughen up the marked area. This is to prep and roughen the area for the patch. The scuffing may create rubber pieces in the area, be sure to remove them after the scuffing.
- Apply rubber cement evenly over the scuffed area and wait a minute until it becomes tacky.
- Remove the backing of the patch and apply it on the scuffed area over the rubber cement.
- Use the buffer tool buff out the edges of the patch, push out any air bubbles. Ensure that there is no gap between the patch and the surface of the tire.
- Wait for the cement to dry and check that your patch is secure before mounting the tire back onto the rim.
Installing the ATV Tire onto the Rim
Once your tire is patched and ready to be placed back onto the rim. The steps to do this is basically the reverse of removing the tires.
Here are the steps for installing the ATV tire back onto the rim:
- Set the ATV tire on top of the rim. Try to do this on a flat surface
- Using the tire irons, lever one section of the tire onto the rim.
- Insert the other tire iron next to the first one between the tire and rim. Slide it around to the opposite side of the tire. This is easier if you apply some mechanical lube on the edges first.
- Repeat steps 1-3 for the opposite side of the tire.
- Once the tire is installed, simply re-inflate it using CO2 cartridges.
Checklist to Bring With You on Your ATV
It’s all fun and games when you’re riding near your home. Even if your tires rip or puncture, you will be able to quickly run home and get the supplies you need to fix them.
However, if your riding in a remote area, you wouldn’t want to be stranded with a 500 pound machine. Therefore, it’s a good idea to bring along a few items with you if you’re planning for a long trip.
Here is a list of things you bring with you. You can put them in a bag strapped to your ride:
- 1 tire plug kit
- 1 tire patch kit
- 2-3 co2 cartridges with stem valve adapter
- 2 tire irons
- 1 pressure gauge
- 1 small bottle of mechanical lube
- 1 plyer (for pulling out sharp objects in the tire)
The above list provides the basics of what you’ll need for repairing tires. Before you go, do some planning, get an idea of the area and terrain you will be riding on and bring the necessary items with you in case you get a flat tire.
Can You Put Tubes in ATV Tires
Yes, you can put tubes in your ATV tires. Tubes are usually made of latex or butyl rubber. They are inserted inside of your tires and when inflated, provides an extra layer of protection and structural integrity for your tires. They are great if you run into large rips on the sidewall of your tires that may be difficult to patch.
Keep in mind that if your sidewall rips, you still need to replace your tires or patch it. The innertube is there is maintain the structural integrity until you can get home.
Most ATV tires nowadays are tubeless but it’s not a bad idea to install them.
Should You Slime or Fix a Flat Atv Tire?
Slime is a type of tire sealant that you squeeze into your ATV tires or tube. When a puncture occurs, air from inside of the tire will escape through the puncture. If you added Slime to your tires, the air will drive the slime through the hole. As the slime passes through, it dries and plugs the hole.
So should you use Slime on your tires or fix your ATV tires by patching or plugging? The answer to this question depends on the types of damage you have on your tires. Let’s discuss this in detail below:
Advantages of using Slime
- Small Punctures – You may have a small hole in your tire that is too small for a tire reamer or plugger. Using slime can provide an easy way for you to seal off the hole.
- Multiple Cracks On Sidewall – You may have a set of old tires with threads that are still good but some cracks have developed on the sidewall. You can use slime to seal them all at once.
- Can be Pre-Installed – You can squeeze some Slime into your tires before your long trips. If a puncture happens, the Slime will plug the hole and you may not even notice that your tires were punctured. Slime can be pre-installed up to 2 years.
Disadvantages of Using Slime
- Slime won’t be effective on large sidewall rips but they are a good quick solution for small rips if you’re in a hurry.
- Some people have reported that Slime will rust rims but I’ve not had this issue. It’s not recommended if you have pre-existing rust on your rims.
- Slime may clog your valve stem but this can be cleaned easily.
If you are debating if Slime is right for you, check out Slime’s Official FAQ to learn more about this product.
To use Slime on your ATV tires, follow these instructions:
A typical ATV will require 24oz (710ml) of Slime
- Spin the wheel and position the valve core in the upper half of tire
- Remove the valve core and allow the tire to deflate
- Remove puncturing object
- Attached hose to valve stem and squeeze in Slime
- Replace the valve core
- Inflate tire and drive for about 0.2 miles (32km)
- Stop and check that the seal is secure.