When To Replace UTV & ATV Tires (A Simple Guide)

Everyone knows in a car that replacing your tires at regular mileage intervals is the best practice and you may be wondering if the same things are true for UTV and ATV tires. You have been riding around on the same tires for a year or so and put hundreds of miles on them and may be asking yourself if it is time to replace them yet.

It is time to replace your UTV or ATV tires when the tread gets low enough to affect tire performance. While that is mostly preference, you should look for things like cracks, punctures, damage, and uneven wear before each ride.

While there is no set depth that the tread should be changed at for UTVs and ATVs, there are still some general guidelines and things to know to help you determine if now is the time for replacement or repair. If you want to go ahead and get rid of those stock tires before you even leave the dealer or you want to wear them down til they are slicks riding on asphalt, that really depends on what you want to do and where you want to ride.

What Type Of Tires Do You Have

The frequency in which you change your tires is affected by the type of tire you have, the quality of the tire, and the terrain you ride on. Riding on hard asphalt will wear your tires down much more quickly than if you were riding on soft sand or mud. Let’s take a look at the different tire types that you can have on your vehicle.

  • All-Terrain Tires – If you want a good all around tire that can perform well in almost any situation then you need to get a set of all terrain tires. The very best all terrain tires that I have used are the Maxxis RZR tires that you can get from Amazon. If you find yourself riding trails, grass, and gravel then these tires shine, but I have also taken mine out on the dunes and did just fine without a set of paddle tires. Since these tires are the universal type they will wear out more quickly than your more specific terrain type tires. These do not handle well on paved roads and I would not recommend these for anything other than crossing a paved road. I have driven mine around my neighborhood and can tell a huge difference between paved roads and dirt trails..
  • Snow And Sand Tires – Most good snow tires have a tread pattern that resembles a paddle, and this is to ensure that traction remains constant as you move forward. If you want a tire that will propel you through snow, loose packed snow, and even mud then a paddle style is suited for you. Make sure you don’t use these for everyday riding or any harder packed surface like a trail, and especially not the pavement. Using these tires on hard packed surfaces will wear them down and even put divots and cracks in the paddle sections of the tire. As long as you stick to the dunes and snow then these tires will most likely last longer than any other type of tire.
  • Mudding Tires – There are several good choices when it comes to good mudding tires. If you are looking for a good set of mudding tires then you will want some with very aggressive treads that are spaced out to keep mud from packing into the trades to form a slick like surface. These types of tires give you the absolute BEST grip in any situation. If you use these outside of mudding on any hard packed surface you can expect a very rough ride and accelerated wear. Check out these Maxxis Maxxzilla tires at Amazon. They are very aggressive and from one of the best brand of tires in the business.
    These tires are often made with several layers of rubber to prevent punctures from rough obstacles and are generally heavier and much more durable than the rest. You can use mud tires in snowy conditions as well because they will grip the ground beneath the snow creating better traction. If you want to check out more on mudding mods, then check out this article I wrote.
  • Street Tires – Street tires are for those that want to make your UTV or ATV street legal. In most states these DOT approved tires are mandatory before you can even drive on the street. I have all the information in all 50 states with links to local laws in this extensive article I wrote.
    Here are some great DOT approved tires that you get for a good price at amazon. Just like regular vehicle tires, these tires will require periodic rotation to prevent excess wear on your front tires. Street tires will probably wear out the fastest because asphalt is just plain rough on tire tread, no matter the vehicle.

How Often And How Hard You Ride Play A Big Part

Riding hundreds of hours or miles a week will break down the rubber on your tires and cause wear much more quickly than if you barely ride. That is something to keep in mind when trying to figure out when to replace your tires. This is why there is no set schedule as far as months or hours when it comes to servicing your tires. It is all about the condition your tires are in and that is the deciding factor.

If you are a weekend warrior and rarely put many hours or miles on your vehicle then you may not have to change your tires as often. There are some key things to look for to make sure your tires are in good shape for your next ride and I put them in a nice little table for you to check out.

What To Check For To Know If Replacement Is Necessary

There are several things to check before every ride to ensure you don’t get stuck out on the trail somewhere and these checks will also give you an indication of how fast your tires are wearing. I find it is good to track how fast they are wearing so then I can make a timeframe when they may need to be changed. 

Check Your Tires For:Frequency:
Cracks In The SidewallBefore Every Ride
Cracks In Between TreadsBefore Every Ride
Proper PSI And That All Tires Are close  Within Pressure RangeBefore Every Ride
Bald Spots (Bald Spots In The Center Are A Sign Of Over Inflation)Before Every Ride
Worn Or Missing Tread LugsBefore Every Ride
Punctures In Any Part Of the RubberBefore Every Ride

How To Make Your UTV And ATV Tires Last Longer

The most important thing for tire wear is doing all you can as the rider to ensure you get the most life and money out of your tires. They are normally the most changed items on these vehicles and if not taken care of, the costs will come faster and rack up more easily. Here is a list of items and checks to do to keep your tires in top condition for as long as possible.

Always Do Pre Ride Inspections

Before you go for any ride, ever, you should be doing pre ride inspections. This is a quick walk around to inspect for damage, wear, or any other conditions that may appear on your UTV or ATV to make sure your ride is as safe as possible. On the list of items to check is your tires. You need to make sure you check your tires before every ride. Take a look at the table above for the criteria to check for during your pre ride inspections. 

Maintain Appropriate PSI

Maintaining proper tire pressure (PSI) is crucial for even tread wear and will prevent things like bald spots and uneven wear spots. If your tires have bald spots in the center of the tire then you have been over inflating them. This means that you end up riding on the center portion of the tire instead of the while tread area.

If you have uneven wear or treads that are too worn out it can affect overall traction and diminish handling. Not only will you have a harder time in turns and in corners but you will lose precious acceleration as well. Of your tires can’t grip properly, then you don’t have enough traction to bite down and grip the terrain to propel you forward. You will end up spinning your wheels which brings me to my next tip.

Avoid Spinning Your Tires

If your tread pattern is worn out, it will be harder to keep your tires from spinning when rocketing out of turns or trying to accelerate when you goose the throttle. Spinning tires will wear them out much more quickly than normal riding.

This means doing wheelies or donuts where your tires spin will cause them to wear out prematurely. If you are one of the riders that likes to drag race or take off from a stop and go full throttle then you may have noticed premature wear too. Going from a stopped position to a full throttle, seat of your pants drag race will surely spin tires to. 

I know many riders that have multiple sets of wheels and tires for specific types of riding. A couple of buddies of mine had paddles and all terrains for dunes and trails. Some guys even have several sets because of the variety of riding they do.

Prevent Dryrot And Cracking

The sun is one of your biggest enemies other than the actual driving you do when it comes to the life cycle. The sun’s damaging rays are the leading cause of dry rotting and cracking in your tires. There are several things you can do to prevent dry rot from happening. Tire manufacturers add chemicals when they make their tires to help prevent dry rot and they also make them carbon black to help prevent the sun’s damaging rays from affecting them as much.

  • Keep your tire out of direct sunlight whenever possible
  • Periodically move your vehicle if it is in storage for a longer period of time
  • Avoid the use of petroleum based tire cleaning products as they can exhaust the tire’s oxidation and weathering agents within the rubber compounds, resulting in cracking. Use only non-petroleum based products or plain soap and water for tire cleaning.
  • Use tire protectants like tire shine that will give your tires a protective layer to help block UV rays. You should wash your tires once a month with mild soap and water to clean any dirt or grime off. Make sure after the tires are dry, you also need to apply tire protectant once a month.

Rotate Your Tires Often

Just like a highway vehicle, an ATV or UTV needs to rotate their tires to keep the wear even. In front wheel turning vehicles  the front tires tend to see more wear than the rear because there is more stress and wear put on them from having to turn AND grip the terrain. Check out the image below to see how tire rotations should be done for rear wheel and 4 wheel drive vehicles.

Do Not Overload The UTV Or ATV

First of all, never ride with more passengers than the recommended amount from the manufacturer. That being said, I know I have ridden a passenger on an ATV several times and have seen a few too many people hanging off the side of someone’s UTV so I don’t want to be hypocritical here but putting too much weight on your tires will strain them and cause excess wear.

If you upgrade to heavier duty tires, be sure to check their maximum capacity before you go off and start hauling hundreds of extra pounds of equipment or people around. This will flex your tires causing uneven wear and with enough weight can can cause a flat tire with the smallest hit on something that wouldn’t normally cause a flat. Just be careful when hauling extra weight around because that will also affect handling and can cause an accident.

Use The Correct Tires

I listed all the different tire types you would be using on a UTV or an ATV above so take a look at that list and make sure you are using the right tire for the job. If you like to traverse all kinds of different terrain like I do, then just stick to all terrains, but if you want to get a little more specialized, make sure you have the right tire, right tire size, and correct tread pattern to suit the terrain you will be heading to. For some more information on choosing the right tire and some more basics, check out this video from a company that I have used several times in the past.

Make Sure Your Tires Have Good Clearance

If you are like some guys I know then you will want to put some big old tires on your vehicle so you can go play in the mud or head out to the field after a snow storm. Be careful just upgrading to larger tires because the stock size tires are the perfect fit for your machine. 

If you get tires that are too big without doing the necessary additional modifications, then you will experience tire rub. Your tires will rub on the vehicle frame or fairings and we all know when one object rubs on another constantly, they both start to wear. This will be a problem because it will cost to replace your worn tires AND your worn fairings or other components that happen to be rubbing.

Try Run Flat Tires

Obstacles and other things in the world of riding can puncture your tires if you are not careful. Hell even if you are careful you can get a flat tire. Several companies make run flat tires that will prevent punctures from ruining your day and can make sure your tires last longer if you happen to experience several flat tires just from the riding, or terrain that you ride on.

In the beginning, I told you that there was no set schedule to when the right time is to change your tires but if you ride the same brand of tire all the time and you keep track of how much your tires are wearing down then you can easily approximate when your next tire change will be so there is a little bit of a “science” to knowing close to when. If you practice the tips I gave you here today, you can significantly extend the life of any tire you decide to put on your ride.