We are cheap bastards. Not only that, but we can be control freaks. Every once in a while we even like the feeling of doing something ourselves and getting it done right. That is why when we have the time we tend to mount our own tires at home. Especially when it comes to our beadlock wheels, we just don't trust the minimum wage-earning teenager down at the tire shop to get it done right. Over the years we've picked up some tips and tricks that can help you get it done on your own, too.
Step By Step
It is important to remove the valve stem core before you even think about removing the beadlock bolts. Once the stem core is removed and the tire stops whistling, it’s time to pull the beadlock bolts. If you don’t have a beadlock wheel, move right along to the next step after pulling the valve core. We just zoom the bolts out with an air-operated impact or air ratchet. With the bolts out, the rings should come right off. If not, insert a pry bar through the back of the wheel and give the ring a light tap.
Once the inner bead is broken, if you’ve got a beadlock wheel, now you will probably need to get the outer bead loose. We put the wheel and tire up on a 5-gallon bucket and use a thin flathead screwdriver to pry the outer bead off the wheel. It doesn’t take much at all, so this misapplication of tools is OK. For you non-beadlock guys, flip the tire over and do the Hi-Lift dance again.
On our TrailReady wheels, there is a machined step that automatically centers the outer bead. If you don’t have that step, it is important to visually center the tire and hand-tighten all the bolts before torqueing any of them. Then we tighten the bolts with an inch-pound torque wrench first to 80 in/lb, then to 160 in/lb, and then finally to 220 in/lb. We usually go around at least twice at the final rating or until every bolt is tight. We never use the impact gun to tighten the bolts, as they are very easy to break.
As shown in the lead image, we use a Hi-Lift jack and the bumper of a Jeep to break the bead. It might be slow going at first, but get the base of the Hi-Lift as close to the wheel as you can. Then, jack until the bead moves. You will have to reposition the jack several times to get the bead entirely off its seat. Just rotate the wheel and jack again. After a few tries you should be able to get the base of the Hi-Lift closer to the actual bead as shown here.
After we have the outer bead loose, we then flip the wheel over on the bucket so it is face down and the outer bead is hanging off the wheel and the inner bead is resting where the outer once was. Then, using some more of our soapy water lube, we walk a pair of pry bars around the tire to get the inner bead off the wheel. It sometimes helps to stand or push on the tire with your foot while you are working the pry bars around. For you non-beadlock guys, you’ll have to do this for both the inner and outer beads.
After all the bolts are torqued, it is time to air the tire up. It is important to keep your hands and body away from the lock ring when airing up that first time, which is one of the reasons why we like this Power Tank inflator. With its clip-on chuck and 24-inch hose, our body parts are nowhere near the lock ring when we inflate the tire. It is unlikely but possible that if bolt holes are stripped, or bolts are fatigued, the ring might come off the wheel…sometimes spectacularly, which is why you want to keep your distance.
In the previous photo you can see that the tire is wet around the bead. It helps greatly to use some sort of lube both when mounting and dismounting tires. We use a soapy water solution in a spray bottle. Shown is “Euro Paste,” what our local America’s Tire uses which is also water-based. We never use any dino-based stuff due to fear of it reacting with the rubber. Also, glass cleaner or our soapy water solution will dry, but oil or grease will make it more likely for the bead to slip when aired down and wheeling.
The actual mounting of the tire is much the same as the dismounting: Put the wheel on the bucket, lube the bead up, and put it on. With a beadlock wheel you can sometimes just manhandle the tire on to the wheel. With non-beadlocks, you will need to do the walking pry bar trick again. With our TrailReady wheels, the outer lock ring has an opening machined-in for easier access to the valve stem.
We leave the valve stem core out until both beads seat. For a beadlock wheel, we find this is the easiest way to get that inner bead seated. For a non-beadlock wheel, sometimes you need to do this and use a strap or put it back on the bucket and get a friend to help push on it. We use our soapy water lube for this step to help get the bead on, but also we can see if the bead is fully seated because the soapy water bubbles wherever air is escaping. Once it is holding pressure, put the valve stem core back in and inflate normally. Beadlock guys, recheck the torque on the bolts periodically.