Taking The Mystery Out of Changing Tires on an ATV

The hardest mechanical thing I’ve ever done with an ATV is change the tires.


I think I’d rather rebuild the engine than have to change the tires on an ATV/UTV. That said I’ve learned throughout the years it isn’t that hard and can be accomplished with the tools you have around the house.

Yet, if time is a factor, don’t hesitate to take the tires to your local tire store and have them make the change. I called three different tire stores before writing this column and the prices for changing an ATV/UTV tire ranged from $15 to $25 per tire.

Here are some tips on how to change a tire on your ATV/UTV.
Here are some tips on how to change a tire on your ATV/UTV.

However, to do it yourself, at home, follow these directions (I got these from a friend who works at a tire store).

Step 1: Drain Air and Break the Seal
To remove the old tires, you will first need to drain the air from them (if necessary). Remove the valve stem using a valve stem wrench, and allow the air to escape from the tires. The tire has a wire rim that sits in a lip of the rim that holds the tire in place and creates the seal needed to hold air in the tire. This will need to be broken. You can do this by simply depressing the sidewall of the flattened tire on many styles. On others, there is a little tab on the rim that needs to be flipped up to break the seal.

Step 2: Remove the Old Tire
Once the air is drained and the seal broken, you can remove the tire from the rim. Depending on the tire, you may only need to press on the sidewall of the tire to get it to pop over the rim edge. If this doesn’t work, wedge the flat part of a tire iron underneath the edge of the tire. Do the same with the second tire iron, about 8 inches away from the first one. Slide the second tire iron around the edge of the tire, all the way around the circumference of the tire to get the first side out over the edge of the rim. Repeat this process for the second edge of the tire as well to fully remove the tire from the ridge.

A word of advice: if this method proves troublesome, you can always use a reciprocating saw (Sawzall) and cut the tires off, especially if the wires are rotted or worn out.

Step 3: Install New Tires
Once the old tire has been removed from the rim, you can start installing the new tire onto the rim. Installing the tire onto the rim is the same process as removing the tire, only reversed. Using the tire iron (carefully so as not to damage the rim), lever one edge of the tire onto the rim. Use the second tire iron to lever another section of the tire onto the rim, and slide the second tire iron around to maneuver it onto the rim. Repeat this with the second side of the tire. It may help to apply a water-based lubricant to the edge of the tire, and this will help to ensure a good seal is achieved. Engage the seal tab if applicable. Fill the tire with air and observe for any leaks.

OK, sounds simple enough and I’ve tried it myself many times and it does work. But it also takes time to change a tire, let alone four of them. But changing the tires yourself can easily save you enough money to buy yourself a nice accessory for your vehicle or a lot of gas to ride the trails.

Shop Sportsman’s Guide great selection of ATV/UTV Accessories!

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