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10 ATV/UTV Tire Tips

ATVs and UTVs are progressively important tools on the farm. As their popularity increases, so does the number of accessories and potential uses for these versatile machines. To get the most out of an ATV or UTV in different applications, you need to select the proper tires. 

These 10 pointers will help you find the right tires for your farm.

1. Know the intended use. “The main thing when selecting a tire is to fully understand what your intended use of the vehicle is going to be,” advises Joe Greving, co-owner of Cedar Rapids Tire in eastern Iowa. “Then match that intended usage to the type of tire.”

Consider the different environments and seasons when you use your equipment. Do you mainly run during winter in snow? Do you use your UTV on rugged, rocky terrain? Do you splash through a lot of muddy trails? Do you take your machine out in a variety of conditions?

2. Select the correct type of tire. There are four main types of ATV and UTV tires:

  • All-terrain or trail
  • Snow or mud
  • Racing
  • Sand

If you are the thrill-chasing type and use your machine on some recreational trails or dunes, you may want to check out the racing and sand tires. However, for most purposes on the farm, you’ll want to focus on the first two types.

All-terrain tires do just what the name implies – they perform well in a variety of conditions. These are most commonly chosen; they have better vertical and lateral stability than other options. However, these will not perform as well in mud or snow. 

Mud and snow tires usually have deeper lugs that are spaced farther apart, which gives them better traction in slippery conditions. While mud and snow tires are great for their intended uses, they will not perform as well on turf or hard surfaces.

3. Look at the construction. Like most types of tires, ATV and UTV tires have two categories of construction: bias and radial. 

Bias tires perform well on steep inclines and rough terrain, while radial tires provide a smoother ride on paved or flat roads.

Radial tires are more difficult and expensive to repair than bias tires, but they will also last longer when maintained and properly used.

4. Pick your ply. The ply rating on tires will help you determine the puncture resistance and load-carrying capacity of tires. Most machines come with a ply rating of four, although some UTVs are now coming standard with a six-ply tire. 

“Unless you are going to be using the vehicle where there are thorns, cactus, or large sticks and you need to worry about puncture resistance, the four-ply tire will be just fine,” explains Greving. “If you are going to travel in the mountains or somewhere with rough terrain, you need an eight-ply rated tire that has greater puncture resistance.”

In general, the higher the ply rating, the tougher the tire.

5. Match the load-carrying capacity. Know the maximum load-carrying capacity for your machine. If you don’t know, consult your owner’s manual, look online, or ask your dealer. Then, match this to the tire capacity. 

“If the load-carrying capacity is 1,000 pounds, make sure the tires have at least 1,000 pounds of capacity to match or to exceed the vehicle’s load capacity,” says Greving.

6. Decide on tread depth. The tread depth, or the lug, will determine how aggressively tires handle terrain. A tread depth less than 1 inch will be best for turf and general uses; 1- to 1.5-inch treads will perform better in mud, snow, and soft terrains. Deep lugs – more than 1.5 inches deep – should only be used in extremely poor, soft conditions. 

“If you’re going to be on loose, muddy terrain, you want a deep-lug tire like the ITP Blackwater Evolution,” says Greving, as he explains the different tire options for different conditions. 

“If you’re going to need a more all-terrain type tire when you are running on hard or intermediate-type surfaces, the Kenda Bounty Hunter HT will work just fine.”

Use caution if you make the switch to tires with deep lugs and occasionally run on turf. The tread on these tires is more aggressive and can tear up the ground.

7. Know the size limitations. When you look at an ATV or UTV tire, there are three numbers that determine the size. The numbers are displayed like this: 25×8-12. 

The first number represents the height, the second is the width, and the third is the diameter of the rim the tire can be mounted on. All numbers are represented in inches.

“The rule of thumb in the aftermarket world is that you can go 1 inch up or down or 1 inch narrower or wider,” says Greving. “So if your vehicle has 25-inch-tall tires on it, you can most likely go up to a 26-inch-tall tire.” 

While this is a rule of thumb, you will want to check with the manufacturer to make sure that the tire change doesn’t void any type of warranty.

When you increase the height, you will have better ground clearance, but you will also have a higher center of gravity, making it easier to tip your machine. 

With smaller tires, you will be less likely to tip in tight turns, but your ground clearance will be lower. 

A shorter height allows you to accelerate more quickly, but it will reduce your top speed. You will have to weigh the pros and cons to determine the right height.

8. Understand the bolt pattern and offset. “Anytime you are swapping out tires on a side-by-side or ATV, it’s very important that you understand what the bolt pattern and offset is for those wheels to make sure they match the vehicle,” says Greving. “Each of them has a specific bolt pattern and offset.”

If you aren’t sure what the correct pattern and offset is, check with a reputable aftermarket distributor or dealer.

9. Be aware of your warranty. “Anytime you replace parts, add accessories, or change tires or wheels, you could potentially void the warranty on your ATV or UTV,” warns Greving.

"Before you make any changes, check with the dealer that represents the manufacturer of the vehicle and ask if it will void the warranty.”

10. Price them out. ATV and UTV tires range in price depending on size and construction. The most common size of ATV tire is a 25×8-12 front and a 25×10-12 rear. A bias tire in these sizes will range from $70 to $100 on average, while a radial may average $85 to $120 per tire. Most UTVs now come with 26- and 27-inch tires, which will add an additional 15% to 20% to these prices.

You can purchase tires from your ATV or UTV dealer, an aftermarket distributor, or from a variety of sites online. Greving recommends purchasing from a company that focuses on tires.

“When you are buying tires, I recommend that you buy tires from a company that sells tires as their core business,” he says. “This distributor not only will have the ability to sell at the lowest possible price due to their buying power, but also will have the knowledge to service your tires before and after the sale.”

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