How to break a tire bead: steps and tools you need

How to break a tire bead - steps and tools you need

This guide outlines how to break a tire bead, what tools you need to break a bead, and the steps to do it.

Breaking a tire bead, or separating the tire bead from the wheel, is a common task when changing tires or performing maintenance.

Are you looking for an easy and painless way to get a tire off the rim. This process, also known as breaking a tire bead, can be done in a variety of creative ways. If you don’t have access to a tire fitting machine, the kind used in tire repair shops, there are other, less strenuous ways to get your tire to come rim-free. This article will explain how to break a tire bead on a tire.

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How to break a tire bead: overview

The bead is the inner edge of the tire that sits on the wheel and forms an airtight seal. The bead is typically made of high-strength steel wires coated in rubber. Its primary function is to ensure that the tire remains securely mounted on the wheel, preventing air from escaping.

When a tire is mounted onto a wheel, the tire bead fits into a groove (called the bead seat) on the wheel. The tire bead is then pressed against the inner and outer rims of the wheel, creating a seal that keeps the pressurized air inside the tire. This seal is crucial for maintaining proper tire inflation and ensuring safe and efficient vehicle operation.

Tire beads play a crucial role in the overall performance and safety of a tire, as they contribute to stability, handling, and the prevention of issues like tire blowouts. The design and construction of tire beads may vary depending on the type of tire and its intended use, but their fundamental purpose remains the same—to maintain a secure seal between the tire and the wheel.

How to break a tire bead: tools

Tire Bead Breaker (Tire Iron)

This manual bead breaker is often a long-handled device with a shovel-like blade that is inserted between the tire and the wheel. By leveraging the handle, you can force the blade down and break the bead free.


A heavy mallet or hammer (around 5lbs) can be used to strike the sidewall of the tire near the bead, helping to break the bead loose. This method requires some physical strength and precision.

How to break a tire bead: steps

Step 1

Place the tire on a solid surface. Bar breaker position between the tire and the rim. Make sure that the tapered edge of breaker bar is pointed at the tire, not the rim.

Step 2

Hit the top of the breaker bar using a 5-pound hammer, drive it between the tire and the rim. As you are driving the breaker bar, to hear the sound of a small pop or expulsion of air. After hearing this, push the breaker bar towards the ground to achieve a complete break in the bead.

Step 3

Slide the breaker bar about 6 inches around the tire, keeping the end under the ri. Use the hammer to break the tire bead. Keep moving around the tire until it’s completely off the rim.

Step 4

Turn the tire more and repeat the process for the opposite side of the tire.

Other tools that can be used

Several other tools can be used for this purpose, and the choice of tool often depends on the specific requirements of the job. Here are some common tools used to break a tire bead.

Hydraulic Bead Breaker

This type of bead breaker uses hydraulic pressure to separate the tire bead from the wheel. It is often more powerful and easier to use than manual options.

Tire Bead Breaking Wedge

Bead breaking wedges are designed to be driven between the tire and the wheel, applying force to break the bead. They come in various shapes and sizes.

Tire Bead Breaking Clamps

These clamps are designed to grip the tire and apply force to break the bead. They are often used with a hydraulic pump for added power.

Tire Bead Seating Tool

While not specifically for breaking beads, a bead seating tool can help ensure that the tire is properly seated on the wheel after breaking the bead. It uses a burst of air to force the tire against the wheel, creating a proper seal.


It’s important to note that breaking tire beads can be a physically demanding task, and using the right tool for the job is crucial for safety and efficiency. Additionally, proper safety precautions, such as wearing eye protection, should be followed when working with tire and wheel assemblies.

Photo by Mike Bird

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