Wheel and tire maintenance is surely one of the most important aspects of owning a car. However, as removing a tire from a rim can be quite expensive at the auto repair shop, you might want to do it yourself at home. Well, this how-to guide will help you do just that.
Whether you want to replace a tire, remove corrosion from the rims, or remove scratches from your rims, this guide should help you do it easily and successfully.
By removing the tires yourself, you’ll not only save a decent amount of money but also keep yourself safe while driving. Even though you shouldn’t neglect engine maintenance, as well as fluid and filter maintenance, tires and wheels should be at the top of your priorities list.
After all, good wheels and tires can significantly improve your car’s performance. You’ll be faster off the line, you’ll have more grip in both dry and wet conditions, and you’ll be able to brake more easily.
On the other hand, driving with old tires and bad wheels brings about a great risk of fatal accidents. An old tire can go flat at almost any moment, and it does not provide enough traction, especially in wet conditions.
As far as the wheels are concerned, a cracked wheel can get unstable and break down because of the engine’s force. In addition, if you have any loose wheel nuts and bolts, your wheel might detach from your car and drift off.
Unfortunately, situations like these are awfully common. To prevent them from happening, you should follow this guide and keep both your wheels and your tires in perfect condition.
To safely remove a tire from a rim, you’ll need some basic mechanic skills. If you don’t consider yourself to be a good mechanic, think twice before removing the tire by yourself. While it might be easy for experienced folks, beginners might need some practice first to get themselves familiar with the process.
So, if you’re a beginner, you should either call somebody experienced to help you, or just leave it to the pros.
Also, you should acquire all the necessary equipment before you start, which I listed below. You should already have all of these tools in your garage. And if you don’t, consider purchasing them. They’ll serve you for a long time and you should always have them in your garage. They certainly make for a good investment.
- Some kind of lubricant (dish soap will work)
- Pry bar
- Car jacks
- Jack stands
- Tire bead breaker
- Core removal tool
- Jacking the car up
- Removing wheel wrenches
- Using a pry bar
- Precision driving (if you don’t have a tire bead breaker)
Removing the Tire — Step by Step
1. Find a Good Spot
Before you begin, find a nice place to park your car — somewhere you can work undisturbedly. Sometimes you don’t have the privilege of choosing where you do repairs, but removing a tire from the rim usually doesn’t fall under emergency repairs.
Your driveway or garage should be perfectly fine. However, if you don’t have a bead breaker, keep in mind that you’ll need some extra room to maneuver in order to break the bead on your tire (more on that later).
2. Jack Your Car Up
Once you’ve set the car in position, shift into neutral and activate your parking brake. Of course, automatic owners just need to put the vehicle in park. Also, if you have hydraulic or air suspension, make sure to put it in service mode. That way, your suspension won’t freak out when you start jacking the car up.
Next, turn the ignition off and exit the vehicle. Locate the lifting spots and put your jack directly below it. Using either the lever or the electric system, lift the car up on the jack. Once the car is up, place jack stands under other lifting spots. Once you’ve placed the stands, slowly lower your car on them and remove the scissor jack. Never suspend your car only using the scissor jack.
3. Remove the Wheel
When you’ve safely lifted the car up, the time has come to remove the wheel. Using the appropriate wrench (or an electrical socket wrench), loosen the wheel bolts first, without removing them.
Follow a diagonal pattern while loosening the bolts to gradually release pressure from the wheel hub. Once you’ve loosened all the bolts, you can remove them one by one. Again, you should follow the same diagonal pattern. Once the bolts are off, carefully slide the wheel out from its hub.
4. Deflate the Tire
Once you’ve got the wheel off your car, carefully set it on a flat (preferably covered) surface, the outside facing up. At this point, you’ll need the valve core removal tool. It resembles a screwdriver, and all it does is remove the valve from your tire.
This tool helps you deflate the tire quickly and easily. To remove the valve core, insert the pointed end into the valve and then twist it counterclockwise. Once all the air goes out, you can proceed to the next step.
5. Break the Bead Between the Tire and Rim
Using a bead breaker
If you have a tire bead breaker or a really pointy crowbar, you can use it to break the seal between the tire and the rim. Go slowly all around the rim and look for weak spots. Once you’ve managed to get in, work your way out in both directions until you go all the way around the tire.
Using a car
On the other hand, if you don’t have a bead breaker, or your crowbar is dull, you can drive a car over the tire to break the seal. Of course, you should be extremely careful while you’re driving over it.
First of all, be careful and make sure that you’re not catching the rim, since you can easily break or bend it, causing irreversible damage. In addition, obviously you shouldn’t reuse the tire you’ve run over.
6. Lubricate the Edge Between the Tire and Rim
When you’ve managed to break the seal, rub dish soap or some other lubricant all around the edge where the tire meets the rim. To be honest, I myself have skipped this step more than one time, and the end result should be the same whether you use lubricant or not. However, lubricating the edge will make your job much easier.
7. Pry the Tire Off the Rim
Don’t just jam a crowbar or tire iron in there, because you can easily scratch the rim. Instead, use a bicycle tube or something like electrical tape to prevent the sharp edges of a crowbar from damaging your rims.
Slowly pull the tire off the rim, again starting from one point and going out in both directions. If you encounter too much resistance, use additional crowbars or screwdrivers to get more leverage. Once you’ve managed to get most of the tire off the rim, it’s time to go to the other side.
8. Repeat on the Other Side
When you get to the other side of the tire, start from the spot you had the most trouble getting off on the first side. Using this method, you can work on both sides to get the tire off more quickly. Of course, you should use as many pry bars and screwdrivers as you need, constantly applying lubricant where necessary.
Go slowly, as too much force might damage your wheel. Believe me, it’s better to be cautious and slow than having to pay for a brand new wheel.
Finally, once you’ve finished getting the tire off the wheel, you can continue working on your car. If you don’t plan on reusing the tires you’ve taken off, make sure you know how to properly dispose of used tires.
Additionally, be careful while you move the wheel around. Your best choice would probably be to wrap it in bubble wrap or some other kind of protection. If you don’t plan to work on the wheel, you should at least keep it undamaged.
I hope you found the guide helpful and informative, and I sincerely hope it brings you a step closer to working on your car by yourself. Doing your own maintenance can actually be quite rewarding. And once you get the hang of it, you’ll be unstoppable.