I’ve been looking at getting some new tires for my ATV and I was thinking about using car tires. However, I wasn’t sure whether they would fit or not. So, I asked around, and here’s what I found.
As a general rule, car tires will not fit ATV rims. ATV rims are generally much wider than car tires. You can, however, use a car tire rim on certain ATVs. It does require a bit of skill to do, however, but car tires perform exceptionally well on an ATV.
In this article, I will explain the reasons that car tires won’t fit on ATV rims, what tires fit different kinds of ATVs, and how to determine whether a tire will fit the rim.
Can you put car tires on ATV rims?
The main issue with car tires is that they are much narrower than a standard ATV tire. Because of that they don’t sit snugly on the rim and don’t really look right. One solution is to use the rims on the car tire but drill matching holes so that the bolts that attach to the rim will thread through.
To do that you take off your current tires and mark on the car tire rim where the holes should be for the bolts. Then use a drill with a metal drill bit to drill the holes you marked out. After that, you can simply attach the tire to the hub just like you would a normal tire.
Car tires on an ATV will go through mud, water, and have surprisingly good traction considering they have a lot less tread than a typical ATV tire.
ATV tire numbers and what they mean
On every ATV tire, there are three numbers embossed on the side of the tire that tell you the dimensions of the ATV tire.
- The first number is the diameter of the tire or the height.
- The second number is the tire width from one sidewall to the other.
- The third number is the size of the rim you should use.
There are a range of different tire types, some are made for riding in sand, while others are designed to be used in the mud. But, all-terrain tires have become the most popular because they are the most versatile.
You do lose some performance on both sand, mud, and hard ground, however, it’s made up by the fact that you don’t have to change your tires each time you go from riding on the road to riding in the sand.
If you live in a region that has snow, tracks can also be attached to your ATV, and give you much better traction in the snow. An ATV with tracks can go on similar terrain to a snowmobile. Interestingly, a snowmobile is faster than an ATV, but an ATV is more stable and can go through thicker snow, and more uneven terrain.
I wrote about using tracks on ATV at length in a separate article. Read it here, Are tracks hard on an ATV.
Radial tires – industry standard
There are different kinds of tread patterns that affect how the tire performs. After various different styles have been around radial tires are now considered the industry standard.
Here’s a video that shows a breakdown of where to find the numbers on your tire, and what they mean. As well as, a brief discussion about the different tire patterns:
What size tires will fit my ATV?
Now that you have a good idea of the major factors around ATV tires, how do you know what size tires will fit your ATV or a specific ATV?
Most ATVs can handle one or two rim sizes larger than the stock rims they come with. For example, if your ATV comes with 12-inch trims stock, then you can safely use 13 inch or 14-inch rims. But, it’s always best to check the manufacturer’s recommendations about the tire size to use.
And you should exercise caution when using different-sized rims than the manufacturers, as it can cause damage to your ATV.
You can also get ATV tires that match the rim size of your current tires. And if you do that then you don’t need to buy rims separately. The main consideration when going with the same size rims is the width of the tires. The width should be roughly the same, and it’s best to err on the size of getting wider tires.
The width of the tires is how wide they are. Not to be confused with the diameter, which is the height of the tires.
Any larger than that can strain the engine and cause increased wear and tear. Larger tires are also heavier which increases how much petrol your ATV uses, and affects the handling of your ATV.
How do you tell if a tire will fit a rim?
Below, I’ll give you a practical example so that you can understand how to tell if a tire will fit a rim.
The numbers on the side of a tire will tell you whether it will fit a particular rim. The last number in a list of numbers will have an R at the end of it to indicate the rim size. It will say 12R for 12-inch rims, or 13R for 13-inch rims. Therefore, you need to know the size of your rims or the size of the stock rims.
In the owner’s manual for your ATV, it will say what tire size the stock tires are, and will typically have some recommendations for how big replacement rims can be.
Therefore, once you know the stock rims, and the recommended rim size you shop around for tires that have the rim size you need. And you can also get bigger or smaller rims depending on what your preference is.
The bigger the rim, the more torque is required to turn it. Therefore, a rim that is too big will require the hub to do more work than it can handle. It may fail immediately, or it can slowly wear the hub down over time. And means you’ll need to repair it sooner.