How to Pop a Tire Back on the Rim

A loose tire bead can be a real problem to fix, and if you are out on the road alone and have no access to help, you must have some ideas on how to pop a tire back on the rim. 

There are a couple of popular techniques to pop a tire back on the rim, including the use of fire blast or the safer method of using a lubricant and air compressor. There is no definite answer as to which one is the better method. It is highly dependent on the user’s preference, but there is no doubt that the latter is safer.

I will present both methods in this article for you to compare them. Then you can decide which one works better for you.

Popping a Tire Back on the Rim with a Fire Blast

This technique is becoming highly popular. If you go on YouTube looking for tips on how to pop your tire back on the rim, videos of people blasting their tire will come first on the list.

Why did this method become popular? It is because it looks so easy to do. It is easy to do but not very safe because you are dealing with fire using a highly flammable agent.

What is the science behind this method? It is simple. It is the rapid expansion of gas that puts the tire back into the rim. 

This video provides a detailed explanation of how everything works.

Tools & Materials

  • Starter fluid/WD40/parts cleaner
  • A matchbox or lighter
  • Fire extinguisher to put the fire out

The Process

Step 1: Ensure that the tire is clean and dry.

If your tire is awfully dirty, clean your tire first. This process is necessary to ensure that no specks of dirt or any objects can cause an issue as you continue with the process.

Ensure that the tire is dry before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2: Spray the fluid around the bead of the tire.

Make sure to spray a moderate amount of fluid not to create a huge fire that could make your task more dangerous.

You need to be extra careful when doing this process because you are dealing with a highly flammable substance, and one simple error could cause some burns.

Step 3: Pick up your lighter or matchbox and lit up the tire bead.

Using a match to light up the tire bead is safer as you can throw the lighted match stick towards the tire, keeping you away from the flame.

When the fire hits the tire bead, you would likely hear the pop sound after a few seconds. When this happens, put the fire off as quickly as you can using your fire extinguisher.

Step 4: Fill up the tire.

Pump air into your tire, and you are good to go.

Using fire to pop a tire back on the rim sounds like a straightforward method. However, I must tell you that the process has some side effects. These include the condition called Pyrolysis, which is a chemical reaction when the tire is overheated. 

Pyrolysis can cause the tire to deteriorate. When Pyrolysis hits your tire, it can go on its own even when the fire is already out. It can continue for a few seconds, sometimes even for hours.

The exposure of the tire to extreme heat could also possibly cause it to explode. That is why applying the right amount of fluid and the quickness in putting the fire off is crucial.

Also, read our review on excellent touring tires from Primewell: PS890 Touring

Using a Lubricant and Air Compressor

I can’t coin a catchy term to call this method of popping a tire back on the rim. I would say that this is the traditional way of reseating a tire bead on the rim.

Why does this method work? Well, the explanation is simple. Minimizing the gap between the bead and the rim allows the tire to hold enough air pressure and push the bead back to the rim.

Tools & Materials

  • Lubricant
  • Air compressor
  • Ratchet Strap

The Process

Step 1: Clean up the tire.

Clean the tire to ensure that no dirt or debris on the bead area. Feel free to wash the tire with water and soap.

Step2: Lubricate the bead.

After ensuring that the bead area is clean, spray a lubricant around the tire bead. This lubricant will help the bead to move or slide into the rim faster.

If you do not have access to a bottled lubricant, a good alternative is soapy water. Melt enough soap until it bubbles in the water, and pour it around the tire bead when ready.

Step 3: Remove the Schrader valve.

To ensure that enough airflow goes into the tire and put adequate pressure to push the tire bed to the rim, I suggest that you remove the tire’s Schrader valve.

It is also important to release the air pressure after the bead is seated back on the rim.

Step 4: Wrap the ratchet strap around the tire.

When you wrap the tire with your ratchet strap, make sure to put it at the center. 

Wrapping the tire with your ratchet strap will push the tire’s sidewall towards the rim, closing or minimizing the gap between the bead and the rim.

Alternatively, you can also use a chain and a binder. Follow the same process of wrapping the tire with the chain and tighten it up using a binder. Ensure to position it at the center of the tire.

Step 5: Pump air into the tire.

Using your air tank or compressor, pump enough air into the tire until the bead is seated back on the rim. If the gap between the bead and the rim still does allow the tire to hold enough air, you might need to push the rim in and push the tire out to close the gap.

The air will still leak when you pump it in as the bead is not seated yet. However, when enough pressure is applied, it should push the bead into the rim. Keep on pumping air into the tire until you hear it pop.

If necessary, add more lubricant around the bead, especially if you don’t see it moving towards the rim when you pump in the air. 

Step 6: Put the Schrader valve back.

The final step is to put back the Schrader valve and pump up your tire. Now, you are ready to roll again.

Using a lubricant and air pump to reseat the tire bead is the most suggested method because it is safe for you and the tire. There is no risk of damaging your tire like the Pyrolysis possibility when using the fire blast method.

However, this method can be a little challenging, especially if you are working on bigger tires. It might require you to use force to help push the rim in to minimize the gap between the tire bead and the rim while pumping the air into the tire.

Which Method is Better?

As previously mentioned, there is no definite answer as to which one is the better method. You will have to decide which one to use base on your assessment of the method’s effectiveness and ease of the process.

As far as speed is concerned, the fire blast has a clear advantage. You can pop a tire back on the rim in a matter of seconds. All it takes is just to spray some burning agent like a starter fluid or WD40 into the tire bead and light it up. Then, boom! Your tire bead is back on the rim.

The other method takes more time because of the extra steps like strapping the tire with either a ratchet strap or using a chain and binder. You also exert more effort to push the rim inwards while pumping the air into the tire until enough pressure goes in to push the bead back.

Safety-wise, the traditional method is safer for the simple reason that it does not involve fire. Fire is dangerous as it can lead to accidents and harm you while doing the process. 

Additionally, it does not only harm you, but it could also potentially harm your tire. If this happens, it would not be very economical as you might end up buying a completely new tire.

If you are a risk-taker or utterly confident in doing the fire blast technique, it could be the most effective method. However, if you prefer to do it safely, doing the other process is the way to go.

Conclusion

You have just learned a couple of techniques to pop a tire back on the rim. There could be other methods other than these, but these are the typical process that people use.

If you prefer a quick and easy method, you can use the fire blast technique. Of course, you will have to take some risks in doing this. Thus, it would be best if you were extra careful.

Using a lubricant and air pump to reseat a tire bead is a safe method, but not so quick.