Trash and debris get inside tires quite often, particularly on off-road trips. To be more specific, the dirt and trash travel inside into the tire, making it important to break tire beads from time to time. Breaking a tire bead isn’t exactly the easiest repair you can perform on your car, especially if it is your first time trying to do so. When your tire bead is clogged with trash and debris, it’s time to break it to clean the gunk. Here’s how to break tire bead without breaking yourself!
There are a few approaches to breaking a tire bead; multiple tools you can consider such as tire mounting machines, lever bead breaker, clamp and ram bead breaker, and plier bead breaker. All you need are the proper tools, a correct guide to break tire bead, and the patience to follow through the steps. Doing it right to make sure the rim and tire are not damaged will also protect you from unwanted injuries.
In today’s article, we talk about how to break tire bead the correct way. Stick around till the end because we will also provide some general maintenance tips to keep your car’s tire beads clean and functional.
What Is A Tire Bead?
The tire bead is a fortified section of the tire that is in constant contact with the rim. It is tasked with the important duty of making and retaining a seal between the tire and wheel for it to hold air.
The friction between the bead and wheel is what creates the seal. A copper, steel, or similar robust bands in the rubber bead help it keep its shape, retaining the seal when the tire experiences vibration and distortion.
Where Is The Tire Bead Located?
The bead can be found on the inner lip of the tip that meets the wheel, opposite of the tread of the tire. Think of a tire without the wheel. You can easily spot the bead on a dismounted tire because it sits at the sidewall’s base and has a wider profile. Moreover, like the sidewalls, two beads are there on the tire to meet the wheel.
You will not be able to notice the bead of the mounted tire if everything is in decent shape. Then, it is hidden behind the lifted edge of the wheel. The only time it will be in plain sight is when it has sustained damages in the assembly – also your cure to have the tire and wheel repaired or replaced.
Reasons Behind Tire Bead Damage
Bead damage can be caused by driving on under- or overinflated tires that make the bead slip, eventually damaging the bead. In addition, smashing off-road obstacles or curbs with the sidewall can result in bead damage.
All the issues mentioned above are avoidable. However, the curse of a subpar installation may not be avoidable. If the installer relies on the wrong equipment and does not clean the surfaces properly, your vehicle’s tire beads can get damaged faster.
Fortunately, tire beads are made to last for a long. So long as you are taking care of the tire, have a good driving style, and ensure the tire is mounted correctly, you will not run into any problems with the bead.
Problems With A Tire Bead
How would you tell there is a problem with your car’s tire beads? Leaks. The moment there is a leak that cannot be designated to a hole in the tire, leaky valve stem, or a crack in the wheel, rest assured, there is probably a problem with the tire bead.
Leaks come in all forms, sizes, and shapes. It can be anything from a slow leak to a complete blowout. When the bead comes out of the tire, there is no question that there is an issue.
Can You Repair The Bead On A Tire?
Depends. Mostly if there is a slow leak, the bead might simply have to be reseated. This also works for scenarios where the tire is knocked loose on a rim. You can reseat the bead as long as there are no serious damages that need to be repaired.
Although, the chance that the bead is damaged is always there. For instance, the chords inside might be broken, a rough edge inside the wheel may have chewed this part of the tire, or the rubber seal might be compromised. If you are facing problems with the bead, it has to be replaced. Check out how to re-bead a tire here.
We also suggest consulting a professional first who can assess the situation and determine the best course of action.
Why Remove The Tire Bead?
You may want to break tire bead of your vehicle by yourself to save money and keep up the maintenance. What breaking the bead does is remove any debris or dirt that would otherwise be lodged in the surface.
A mechanic can perform the removal but will charge some money for it. Breaking the tire bead is a task that can be completed on the driveway – with the right instructions, of course.
How do you break tire bead, you ask? You break the seal between the tire and the rim. You might have to do that to place a patch on the interior of the tire, change the inner tube, or swap tires. Breaking the bead is a fairly simple concept.
The bead has to be driven off its seat. You can do that with special machines, special tire irons, or a dedicated bead-breaker, all of which require special steps.
Is It Worth Doing Yourself?
In some cases, yes it is. Those who have performed tire repairs before and are somewhat comfortable with it can do it in their home garage. We recommend bringing truck tires to a professional, though.
These repairs are quite cheap but don’t try to attempt one if you don’t have the right equipment or have not tried something similar.
So, let’s know more about how you can do it yourself.
Tools To Break Tire Beads
Before talking about how to break tire bead, we would like to introduce you to a set of tools that will make your work easier and safer. A bead breaker is a tool that is made to separate tires from rims. Various kinds of bead breakers have to be used in different ways. There is also a specific tire mounting machine that can help.
1. Tire Mounting Machines
Tire mounting machines can be found in local tire shops and are very common. This option seems to be the safest one. As long as you abide by the operational manual, you can do the job with ease.
The only issue is that we do not generally have access to this type of machine at home or places where we may need to break a tire bead. These machines are surely not cheap but we would say they are well worth the investment if you think you will be needing them often.
2. Plier Type Mechanism
A bead breaker like this uses a plier-type tool to apply force between the lip of the rim and the bead. There is a spike in the tool for this task. More precisely, this spike puts some pressure on the sidewall of the tire and bead to separate them. Thus, it weakens and exhausts the connection. This mechanism is very effective and can do the job pretty fast. However, it isn’t without its disadvantages.
The spike acts as a double-edged sword and it may leave scratches on the wheels and the surface. Furthermore, the mechanism is quite big and heavy, so you have to exert your full body weight to get good results.
3. Shoe And Lever Mechanism
Much like the name suggests, the shoe and lever mechanism features a shoe-shaped tool that can exert pressure on the sidewall of the tire. To break the connection between the rim and the bead, car owners have to push the sidewall.
Without a doubt, this is the most popular bead breaker available in the market today, as it works great on new passenger vehicle tires, motorcycle tires, and trailer tires.
There are quite a few advantages of this bead breaker. Firstly, it is relatively cheaper, so anyone can buy one for their ride. Secondly, it is easy to use so no one is likely to struggle with the usage. Finally, it is designed for passenger car tires.
Conversely, it does not go well with hard-to-change and old tires. As the shoe and level mechanism carries significant weight and size, this breaker is only compatible with some specific types of tires.
4. Clamp And Ram Mechanism
Without a shred of doubt, the most efficient and quickest working bead breaker of all time is the clamp and ramp mechanism. If a plier type or a shoe and lever mechanism cannot solve the issue with a difficult-to-replace tire, you can rely on a clamp and ram mechanism to do the job.
To do that, this machine is equipped with a pointed foot tool which it uses to exploit the space between the rim’s lips and the bead. The bead breaker also comes with a padded clamp. Little effort is needed to enter this part into the sidewall.
In summary, only this machine will work with every kind of tire with minimal manual labor. Plus, it does no damage to the tires or the sidewall. However, the downside is that it is costly.
How To Break Tire Bead With A Breaker Bar
Since you are already familiar with all the available tools, let’s get onto the key topic of today which is “How to break tire bead?”. You can also perform this without any tools and we will get to that soon. For now, these are tools you need to execute this task:
- A handle
- 3 tire levers
- Breaker bar
- A valve core tools
Step 1: Prepare The Tool
You don’t go into war barehanded. Prepare your tools beforehand.
Step 2: Remove The Valve Core
You start by taking off the valve core to release the air pressure. This step has to be performed both before and during the primary stages. Once the valve core has been removed, place the wheel under the brace. This will facilitate the release of the air and you can easily remove the wheel from the rim. Wait for a little for all the air to seep out of the wheel or it will be another problem.
Tip: Press your hand against the surface of the tire to check the tire.
Step 3: Place Tire On A Surface
For this step, the car owner has to lay the tire on a rigid surface. Position the bead breaker between the tire and the rim. Before moving on to the next step, we suggest checking if the tapered edge of the bar is facing the tire, not the rim.
Additionally, a solid surface is required to progress as can handle the pressure you will apply on it in the future steps.
Step 4: Slip Breaker Bar Between The Rim And The Tire
The following step is to slip the breaker bar between the tire and the rim. Make sure to ensure the pointed edge of the bar is pointing away from the rim of the tire. The reason behind this is that the edge is super sharp and may scratch the insides.
Step 5: Use A Hammer On The Breaker Bar
Once the breaker starts steadying in the distance between the tire and the rim, it is your sign to hit it with a hammer. This should break tire bead. But don’t be too forceful or you may end up destroying the tire.
The idea is to push the breaker insider. Keep on pushing and hitting the breaker bar in the direction of the ground until you can hear a small pop sound – indicative of a broken bead.
Step 6: Turn Around The Tire’s Inside
The final step to how to break tire bead with breaker bad is to remove the tire from the rim. Turn the breaker around the inside of the tire while hammering it from the top. Continue doing this until the tire slips off the rim, then do the same with the other side of the tire.
How To Break A Tire Bead Using A Clamp And Ram Tool
As mentioned above, this is an effective way to break tire bead. Below we will teach you how to do that with this tool. You will need a handful of extra tools:
- Soapy water or lubricant
- Valve wrench
- Nut tightening tools/gun
- Tire spoons
All of these materials serve a purpose. Lubricant is to loosen the rim and bead contact; the valve wrench to take out the valve stem; good tire spoons remove the tire off the rim; and nut tightening tools to loosen/tighten the tool nut.
- Deflate the tire entirely using a valve wrench. Make sure the tire has no air in it as it may be challenging to complete the job if the air is still inside.
- Apply a bit of lubricant to the area where the tool will be set.
- Clamp the tool to the rim with the nut tightening gun. Place the feet between the rim’s lip and tire bead. The clamp will partially break the bead in that area.
- Allow the ram foot to push down and break the tire bead entirely free of the bead retainer.
- Move the tool over 3” to 4” and repeat the procedure.
- Perform the same steps on the opposite end of the tire.
- Completely separate the tire from the rim using the tire spoons. Apply more or less lubricant as needed.
How To Break Tire Bead By Hand
You don’t need tools to break tire bead. Here’s how to do it by hand.
Step 1: Position The Tire
Before you can do anything to the tire bead, you have to place the tire flat on the ground. You want the wheel to be laying down on a hard surface. We recommend going for concrete instead of dirt or grass as the surface could be uneven for the latter two options.
As usual, start by releasing all air from the tire evenly before proceeding to the next steps. You will need to have a strong grip on the tire for what’s next.
Step 2: Release Air From The Tire
What does releasing air from the tire do? It reduces the PSI, or pounds per inch square, decreasing the pressure against the rim of the wheel. This makes it easier for you to remove the bead from the remaining rubber. In all other circumstances, you want to ensure that the wheels of your vehicle are fully inflated.
One technique is to turn the cap of the valve steam counterclockwise. This exposes the metal pin found in the core of the valve. Using a screwdriver, two needle-nose pliers, or a small tool of similar design, push down on the metal pin. When the wheel has released enough air, lift the mechanism off the pin and this will stop deflating the wheel. Change the cap once done.
You could also want to deflate the tire completely. For those instances, unscrew the metal pin using a pair of needle-nose pliers. You will find the air escaping much quicker.
Step 3: Preparing The Area
Next, you have to prep the area close to the inner circle of the wheel. When the PSI is too low to keep the bead secure, you will find that pulling off the rim is easier. If the tire bead does not want to budge, you might have to either deflate the tire completely or exert more force by standing on the tire when you pull it apart.
As the bead is securely held against the rim by glue and steel cable, you will require a lot of pressure to break the connection. Applying a bit of automotive lubricant by the rim’s edges will facilitate the process of sliding the rubber from around it. Tape it before applying lubricant to protect the metal from sustaining scratches.
Step 4: Removing The Bead
You have to push the rubber downward with as much force as you can muster to make the bead pop out. Be careful and follow around the seam to prevent damaging the metal rim. The metal should be protected well if you followed the preparation step mentioned above.
The lining will be easy to grip and detach until it can be pulled out entirely. You can also remove the rim without any additional machines or tools. After the bead pops out, the rim will be separated from it easily.
Tire And Tire Bead Maintenance
You should not ignore the tire bead simply because it isn’t prone to failure under general circumstances. There is a lot of scope for things to go wrong.
Like we said, ignoring air pressure can be rather damaging for your vehicle and is usually the biggest offender of damage to tire bead. Underinflation can be particularly dangerous since there isn’t adequate tension to maintain things in place. The seal made by the tension will do its job only to a certain extension. The tire’s air pressure is just as important in keeping it in place.
Overinflation can raise the bead from the wheel and give rise to issues with bead slippage. Maintaining tire pressure is once again essential to protect the bead. The sudden shock to the sidewall is enough to push the bead off, causing significant problems. What to do if you still manage to hit one and the bead stays in place somehow? Check the tire and wheel just to be safe. Even if the bead remains where it should be, it isn’t a pass. The seal can still be cracked or broken.
Tire Beads: Facts You Need to Know
- Understanding tire anatomy is essential for tire maintenance and selection.
- Tires have multiple parts, including the bead, which is crucial for maintaining a seal between the tire and the wheel.
- The tire bead is the reinforced section of the tire that comes in contact with the rim.
- Beads are typically made with steel, copper, or other robust bands within the rubber bead to help it maintain its shape and the seal.
- Bead damage can occur due to driving on over or underinflated tires or smashing curbs or off-road obstacles with the sidewall.
- Neglecting air pressure is the most significant offender of tire bead damage, which can be especially dangerous for underinflated tires.
- Sudden blows to the sidewall can push the bead off its seat, even if the bead appears to stay in place.
- Leaks can be caused by issues with the bead, and in most cases, the bead may need to be reseated to fix the problem.
- It is best to consult a professional for repairs when experiencing issues with the bead, as some cases may require the tire to be replaced.
- Breaking the bead of a tire requires special machines or tools, and it can be dangerous to attempt without the proper equipment.
A tire bead can be broken in more than one way. The conventional ways are existing alongside the modern method of doing it. The most common method nowadays is one that uses the clamp and ram mechanism. You can buy brands of this tool in the market.
Whatever method you go for, as long as you are comfortable handling the equipment, you should be okay. If you are not feeling confident with the job, however, get help from professionals. Bring the tire(s) to a shop where they will use machines to break tire beads effortlessly.
These tools have been tried and tested by our team, they are ideal for fixing your car at home.