Why Your ATV Tires Keep Losing Air

Before I get into why your ATV tires are flat, we need to tell you the typical PSI you should be running.

ATVs run at a lower PSI than your car or truck, so don’t panic if you see tire pressure lower than your vehicle.

You want 7 PSI in your tires. Going above this can damage the tire and cause it to blow. If you’re lower than 7 PSI, you’ll want to put some air in it.

And I know many of you are wondering, your PSI gauge for your car doesn’t go that low. You’ll need a tire pressure gauge that can read lower PSI of ATV tires (ad). It’s important to get a PSI gauge that can read low enough, don’t eyeball it!

How To Find The Leak In Your Tire

Depending on where the leak is coming from will determine what actions you need to take to fix the leak. Finding the leaks in your ATV tires is very simple, here are the instructions.


  1. Get yourself a spray bottle and put in a water and soap mix. I like to use hand soap or dish detergent, but any soap that bubbles up will work.
  2. With the tire off the ATV and it inflated start spraying all around the tire.
  3. If there is a leak, you’ll start to see bubbles forming around it. See the video below to see how the bubbles form.

If you find no bubbles, then it went flat because it’s been sitting too long.

Video Instructions

It’s Been Sitting Too Long

It’s common for people to not ride their ATV or side by sides for months and see a flat tire.

Tires will naturally lose air especially when there is a significant change in temperature. Even if the tire doesn’t look flat, it’s smart to check them before you ride.

The solution to this is to put air back in the tire and check them more often.

Something Stuck In The Tire

The second possible way your ATV tire is losing air is because something is stuck in it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found staples, nails, and even large thorns stuck in ATV tires. I’ve also found fishing hooks in ATV tires before; anything can get stuck in one.

The crazy part is the worst ones are not easily found. I’ve had staples and pieces of a tree blend into the tread causing the tire to deflate overnight.

The solution to this is getting the object out of the tire and patching the tire. If the hole is too big you might need a new tire. If you don’t know how to patch a tire most tire shops for cars will do it for you at a cost.

Tires Not Seated Correctly

If you just bought the tires, they could be not sitting correctly on the rim. If this is the case, you’ll need to take the tire and rims back to where you had them put on and have them do it again.

Another issue could be that you’ve bent the rim. The slightest bend in the rim can cause the tire to leak air. You’ll notice this as your issue when you do the soapy water trick mentioned before, and the air bubbles are coming out around the rim.

You’ll often find mud and other sludge wedged in the bead, and that can cause the tire to leak. If you do a lot of riding in the mud and rough terrain, this could be your issue, and proper cleaning of the bead will be needed.

If you have steel wheels, your leak could be from rust. The paint can wear off around the bead of the rim, and the rust would allow air to escape. Stock manufacturer wheels are bad about letting air through especially on the cheaper models. Those cheap painted wheels don’t last that long especially in the conditions that many ATV riders go in.

If you suffer from rust or a bent rim, the only solution will be to get it replaced. Either that, or you can do what I’ve done many times and carry a 12-Volt tire inflator (ad).

Temperature Changed Quickly

If there was a temperature change from hot to cold overnight, your tire could deflate.

Also, if you change elevation, this can affect the tire pressure of your ATV too.

Keep this in mind when you go riding at a place that is vastly different temperature and elevation than where you started. You should be checking your tires before a ride to make sure they’re suitable for this very reason.

The solution is to check your ATV tires before you ride especially if you’re coming from somewhere with different temperatures and elevation.

Tires Are Worn Out

I’m guilty of this one; often it’s merely that your ATV tires are worn out and that is why it loses air.

I find dry rot is a big one for tires losing air. If you don’t ride enough the tires will rot away and won’t hold air ever again.

The opposite is true too. If you ride so much that you wear out the tire, it won’t hold much air for long either.

You’ll usually find the stem of the tire start to wear out first. This will become obvious with the soapy water test we told you about at the beginning.

Off-road tires take a lot of abuse, so it’s not too uncommon for them to lose air overnight or have a slow leak if not taken care of.

The solution to this is to replace your ATV tires when they’re worn out or dry rotted.

Should You Get A Tube For Your Tire?

I’m not a fan of tubes.

I’ve had more issues with tubes leaking than the actual tires. The valve stem on tubes shifts around too much and break, or they wear out quicker than the tire itself.

I like to keep it simple, and a tube is not that.