You just inflated your tires and are ready to have the time of your life on your ATV. But your quad feels bumpy. How to check and maintain ATV Tire Pressure?
Tires need to be inflated to the right pressure. Add too much air, and you will get a bumpy ride due to stiff tires. Underinflated tires, on the other hand, hamper performance and take a dig at fuel consumption. It is important to use reliable gauges to measure and maintain the correct tire pressure.
Every tire has a maximum pressure that it can handle. Exceeding the maximum pressure can lead to a tire blowout, damaging your vehicle, and being a risk to your safety. Several factors determine the optimal tire pressure. Not paying attention to them can run you into unexpected problems.
According to ATV Man, wrong tire pressure can lead to many problems. Sluggish rides, handling issues, and even the popped tire risk can be contained by using the correct tire pressure. Poor handling and flat tires put you at risk of an accident. Why risk your safety for something as simple as tire pressure?
Measuring Tire Pressure
Your conventional car or truck dial gauge cannot be used to measure tire pressure on your ATV. You might not be able to tell the difference between 6 or 7 psi due to the large scale.
It is best to invest in a specialized ATV pressure gauge of 15 or 20 psi. You will hardly even need to go above 10 psi with your ATV. Simply plug the gauge into the tire nozzle and note the reading to measure the tire pressure.
Just a note of caution; do not inflate your tires to the pressure printed on the tire sidewall; that is the maximum pressure, not the operating pressure. Running tires at maximum pressure can be risky because any sharp rock or hard bump can cause your tire to burst.
Adding on a Little Pressure
When it comes to ATV tire pressure, every psi counts. A change of one psi in tire pressure can considerably change your ATV's handling.
If you are planning to add more load, you can add a few psi. If you plan to ride with more people or carry luggage like hunting or camping equipment, you should bump up the tire pressure by a pound or two.
Higher tire pressure is also good for hard terrains. It provides less drag and helps you pick up speed. If you are riding with some extra load on hard-packed terrains, the recommended pressure is around 8 psi.
Keeping the Pressure Low
A tire with a lower pressure has more area in contact with the surface it is running on. It can grip the terrain more strongly and provide better traction.
If you are riding through areas with soft sand, loose gravel, or lots of mud, you should consider going a little low on the tire pressure. Similarly, if you will be riding in the snow, you will benefit a lot by keeping your tire pressure low.
If you plan to ride on muddy, sandy, or snowy terrain, it is recommended that you keep the tire pressure at around 4-5 psi.
With low pressure, you risk damage to your rims as there is less cushioning in the tires. Do not go too low on the pressure, or you could end up having to replace the whole wheel due to damages from rough terrains.
Varying Tire Pressures
It is important to keep the tire pressure the same for both tires on an axle. If your ATV's manual recommends a specific pressure for the back tire, this is for both the right and left back tires. Similarly, you will need to keep both front tires at the same pressure. Lowering pressure on the right or left side can dramatically affect how your ATV handles and can be risky.
Some riders prefer to have a slightly lower psi in the back tires. This method helps provide traction in the back tires and offers good handling in the front. This trick also helps with high speed, where the back tires heat up more than the front tires. With the extra heat, their pressure increases and stabilizes at a similar pressure to the front ones.
Punctures you can Avoid
Having the right tire pressure can save you from the hassle of punctures. There is nothing more frustrating than a flat tire far away from where you should be.
Setting a higher pressure will usually protect from punctures. When tire pressure is high, the air compresses less, and in turn, the rubber deforms little. High pressure will cause the tire to bounce off most rocks and stones. But if the pressure is too high and the compressed air has nowhere to go, it could result in an overstrain and, eventually, a blowout.
In contrast, the air compresses greatly with lower pressures, and the rubber takes a fair share of the impact. The rubber is more likely to suffer a cut or rupture in such cases due to contact with the rim or overstrain.
Hitting the Right Pressure
You should be on the lookout for a few things in your ride to indicate if your tires are over-or under-filled.
If you notice under-steer or a loss of grip on tight corners, it is a sign that you are low on air. Similarly, a wobbly ride at medium speeds also indicates that the tire needs more air pressure. Lastly, if you feel an impact between the rough terrain and your metal rims, you need to pump up those tires and save yourself from considerable damage.
If you lose grip on loose terrain and are getting stuck in soft sand more often, chances are your tires are overinflated. You might also notice your tires starting to spin without traction. As we mentioned earlier, higher inflated tires have less surface contact and thus cause less grip and traction.
A key point to remember is that pressure changes with altitude. If you think you will be going up a mountain or down a valley, check your pressure before beginning your ride and then again after 20 to 30 minutes into your ride. This way, you will know what pressure to keep the next time you start your ride and will not have to face issues with high or low tire pressures.
Tires can lose pressure over time. For some, it could be natural, and for others, it could be something that needs attention.
It is important to check your tire pressure frequently and fill it up as required. Trust me; your tires will thank you for this habit and will last longer. In addition, you will also get the best ride whenever you get on your quad bike.
If your tire is losing pressure more quickly than it should, make sure to have it inspected by a professional. Small punctures, damaged rims, and weak valves; all contribute to abnormal pressure loss. These things need to be taken care of as soon as possible, and ignoring them could affect your tire life.
About THE AUTHOR
I'm 30 years old. I am a software developer and I am a freelance writer on the side. I've been riding ATV's since I was 15. I personally own a Polaris Sportsman and a Can-Am Defender.Read More About Shawn