Removing a car tire can be an expensive process. The average car owner doesn’t have the tools or skillset to remove a tire from its rim efficiently; hiring a certified mechanic is then the best option.
But, with a little know-how, you can save money by removing the car tire yourself. This detailed guide outlines two effective methods of removing a car tire. These methods are easy to follow and don’t require a great deal of experience. Sounds too good to be true? Are you convinced the tire won’t come off? Read on, and we will reveal all.
The words tire and wheel are often confused with each other. A tire is a rubber covering that surrounds the rim. These two — the tire and the rim — are, along with the hub, the wheel’s principal components.
Other terms related to a tire include:
- Hub: The middle part of a wheel that attaches to the axle of the vehicle.
- Bead: This is the inside edge of a tire that sits on a rim. Rims have small grooves for tire beads, and when the tire is fully inflated, the tire bead sits perfectly on the groove.
- Valve Core: A seal that prevents leakage of air. You can add or remove pressure when the valve core is actuated.
- Tread: The part of the tire’s rubber circumference that makes contact with the ground. Most performance features like secure grip, durability and wet-weather compatibility are associated with the tire tread.
- Bead Breaker: Commonly referred to as a tire removing machine, these come in various forms and sizes. You’ll find huge and expensive ones in professional garages, but there are now accessible ones that are easy to use.
- Rim: This is the part of the wheel that “holds” the tire.
- Spoke: These are small bars radiating from the hub of the wheel that support the rim.
- Lug: A nut fastener that secures a wheel onto a vehicle’s axle.
Removing a Car Tire
Certified mechanics usually have access to a tire removing machine, which is most likely not the case for you. You can employ the cheaper method of using an ordinary screwdriver and pry bar.
This, although doable, is a bit unconventional, and many may prefer using a dedicated tire removing tools.
If that’s the case, you can use a versatile bead breaker. It’s simple to use and ensures anyone can do a professional level job. Below is a step-by-step guide for the two methods.
Screwdriver and Pry Bar Method
This is essentially using brute strength to remove the tire. Stay safe and follow instructions carefully. You’ll need the following equipment:
- Valve removal tool
- Pry bar
- Soap Water as a lubricant
Step 1: Take off the Valve Core
Tires are easier to remove when they have no air. The valve core holds air in, so removing it will deflate the tire. To do this, you’ll need a valve removal tool.
Unfortunately, there’s no other way to remove a valve core. A valve removal tool is a very cheap item that shouldn’t cost over 15 dollars.
It looks like a screwdriver. Place the end of it into the valve core, turn it anti-clockwise to unscrew the valve core.
Step 2: Drive Car Over Tire
You need a lot of force to separate the bead from the wheel. If you aren’t using a bead breaker, the easiest way to do this is to use a car. Lay the tire flat on the ground and carefully drive the vehicle over the tire, being wary to miss the metal rim completely. This applies the downwards force on the tire to ensure it separates from its groove.
The bead is usually well attached to its groove, making it quite stubborn to remove. Therefore you shouldn’t be surprised if you need to run over the tire several times.
Another method is raising your car with a jack, position the tire underneath the car’s wheel and then lowering the car. This produces the desired results as it applies the required downward pressure onto the tire, hopefully separating it from the rim.
If you’re only concerned with maintaining the rim and not the tire, you can opt to cut through the bead with a saw or sharp knife. Your tire will be irreversibly damaged, but at least the rim will remain intact.
Step 3: Use feet to keep the tire in place
At this stage, you have separated the tire bead. You’re about to start the process of completely removing the tire from the rim. You now need to pin the wheel down with your feet.
Ensure your foot stands firm on the tire, as this will help keep the wheel in place. It also provides better leverage against the bead, improving your chances of avoiding visible damage to the rim.
Always work with the back of the wheel first — the part that faces the axle. This will hide any mishaps on your first attempt and make the rest of the removal easier.
Step 4: Apply Lubricant
An effective, easily accessible lubricant is dishwasher soap. You’ll need to mix it with water first. Three tablespoons of liquid soap in a gallon of water should do the trick.
The more effective — in terms of cleaning performance — your dishwasher soap is, the better its chances are of overcoming the tire’s reluctance to separate caused by grease or debris.
Step 5: Lift the Tire
This step requires the most effort and you’ll need a screwdriver and pry bar. Pinning the wheel down with your feet, slide in the pry bar to lift the tire over the top lip of the rim. Without removing the pry bar from the tire, use the screwdriver to bring all sides of the bead above the rim.
It’s best to use flat pry bars and screwdrivers. Assuming you wish to preserve the tire, flat versions of these tools reduce the chances of tire scratch and damage. You also want tools that have a considerable length. The longer the tool, the more leverage you’ll have, so you’ll require less force to bring the bead over the rim.
Step 6: Free Rim on Other Side
At this point, the bottom half of the bead should be above the rim. To free the top edge, push up the rim as high as possible, then slip the screwdriver underneath it. Insert the pry bar next and use it to pull the rim up towards you. Do this on all sides of the wheel until you can pull the entire rim out.
The lubricant helps make this process easier. Use the soap water from an earlier step to lubricate as needed.
Bead Breaker Method
This is the more expensive option, but it also takes less effort. Bead breakers come in various shapes and sizes; the ones you see in workshops are often large and not portable.
Earlier in the article, we referred to this versatile bead breaker that’s portable and easy to use; something that wouldn’t be out of place in a home garage.
The device costs just under 300 dollars, which most people will find it hard to justify. But if you have to remove lots of tires or do so regularly, investing in such a bead breaker is a wise choice.
Drivers who use off-road tires often have to remove tires for repairs. If this is you, a bead breaker will save you lots of time and money.
A bead breaker uses a similar tire removal process as the one we used in the pry bar and screwdriver method.
For the force, a pneumatic driven foot screw is used instead of a car. A clamping jaw with adjustable screws works in place of the screwdriver and pry bar.
Besides their simplicity, these devices are designed for one-person operation.
Reasons for Removing Tires
It’s clear why there would be the need to change a wheel, after a tire puncture, for example, but few understand why removing tires from the rim could be necessary. There are three common instances when this is required.
Tire repair is difficult when the rim is on. If you’re taking your tire to a specialist, they’ll charge you extra for the cost of tire removal. You can save money by handing over a hollow tire and making the specialist’s life easier.
But how often will you be repairing your tire? Does the frequency justify the effort in DIY removal or financial investment in a bead breaker?
If you’re driving on pristine roads, you won’t need to repair your tires often. However, those who live in the countryside or often traveling on uneven terrain and soiled roads usually have more tire repairs to do, so knowing how to take a tire off could be financially beneficial.
Seasonal Tire Change
Those who live in areas that experience extreme weather changes often have to change their tires to suit the weather.
Changing seasonal tires doesn’t have to be a tedious task that you’d rather put the hands of a mechanic. If you’re changing tires two or three times a year, a bead breaker becomes a sound investment. You’ll save money in the long run.
Custom rims can add aesthetic value to a car. And many people would love the freedom of easily changing or upgrading them. Good quality rims cost more than 250 dollars each. That adds up to around 1000 dollars per set. With all this money spent, additional installation costs make the DIY approach extremely attractive.
Tire Tools You Should Always Have
The following three tools will make any tire or wheel switch easier. You should consider these basic components in your garage or car tool compartment:
- Lug Wrench: The bigger, the better, since larger models offer more leverage. This 16-inch model is an excellent option as it also includes rubber grips for added comfort.
- Car Jack: Get a robust and powerful jack with a high load capacity. The Blackhawk Jack is an excellent example. It has a maximum load capacity of 3.5 tons.
- Mini Compressors: These are emergency tire pumps. But most products on the market are complicated to use, so opt for one with programmable controls, like this one from AstroAI.
How Many Spare Tires Should I Have?
If you use one set of tires, one spare tire will do. The same applies for every additional set you have: always have at least one spare for each set.
Where Can I Get Tire Removing Tools?
The best place to get anything in these times is online. Amazon offers a superb range of tools for tire removal. In addition to the one we mentioned before, you can also buy a much cheaper tool like this one. These products are versatile and will suit nearly all domestic vehicle tires.
Is There Risk of Injury with The Screwdriver and Pry Bar Method?
Yes! There’s always a risk of injury. Even changing a punctured wheel can cause harm if done poorly. The most important thing is not to hurry or apply too much pressure. If A tire is genuinely stuck, you either need to apply more lubricant or change the tools you’re using.
Getting damaged tires off or replacing summer tires for the winter isn’t an enjoyable task for most, and that’s why we tend to outsource it to a trained professional.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to do. The complexity surrounding tire removal is exaggerated as, hopefully, this guide shows.
Weigh up all the options available to you. If tire removal is a task that needs to be carried out often on your own or family cars, doing it yourself can save a pretty penny. If not, then a one-off payment now and then to a garage may still be the sensible option.