Everyone eventually gets some gunk stuck in their bead while offroading. Sooner or later you will find that your tires won’t hold air as well as they used to, and you will be looking for a cheap fix. Well, here it is! With basic tools you can pop your outer, inner or both beads and clean out all the crud in there. The best part of this method: It requires no grunt work. Your jeep’s weight does all the work for you!
- Breaker bar
- 3/4″ Socket
- Jack stand
- Floor jack
- Hi-lift jack
- Wire brush
- Dish soap
- Valve core remover
- Nail puller
- Air compressor
- 30 minutes per tire
1: Park your Jeep TJ on level ground, apply the e-brake, put it in gear and crack the lug nuts on the tire you intend to fix. Once the lug nuts are cracked, go ahead and jack up the jeep until the tire is off the ground. Place a jack stand under there and remove the tire.
2: Remove the valve cap and the valve core. A valve core remover is a great tool to have and they are very cheap at pretty much any auto or 4×4 store. If you don’t have one, just let out all the air you can with whatever method you usually use when airing down.
3: Position the tire underneath your favourite jacking point on your Jeep TJ. I chose to use the rockers, but you can do the same on a bumper as well. With a hi-lift you can now position the foot of the jack right on the edge of the rim. Start jacking up the jeep until the weight of the jeep pops the bead on the tire. This requires some caution because you don’t want to lift the jeep off your jack stand only to have it come crashing back down onto it when the bead pops. Generally this should not be a problem however because the tire will flex quite a lot before the bead actually pops, so it shouldn’t drop too much. Use some common sense and make sure you are careful. Theoretically you could pop the bead using the same method with anything that will apply enough down force, but it’s nice to work with the jeep because it can be repeated on the trail if needed.
4: As you can see in this photo, I had some good chunks of mud in there that prevented it from sealing. I was losing about 10 psi/day. Once the bead is popped you should be able to stand on the other side to get it completely unseated. With it unseated you can now see and feel the dirt in the bead area. I listed a nail puller in the tools above because I had a ton of hard packed mud in mine and the nail puller worked great for scraping it off the rim. I also used a wire brush for the softer stuff. Once you have all the bead area clean and you’re confident it will seal up good, clean up the area as much as you can and spray it down with some soapy water. This will help it seat easily and will also aid in finding leaks that persist. despite your best efforts.
5: Put the valve core back in. With the tire all soaped up and ready to seat, hook up your air compressor to it, and try your best to start the seal. This is done by holding the tire towards the outer portion of the rim. If you hear hissing you’ve probably got a section that’s not sealing. With a little patience, you can get it seated by hand even with a slow air compressor. If you’re having troubles, wrap a ratchet strap around the circumference of the tire and tighten it up slightly. This will push the tire towards the rim and help it seat. I didn’t need to do this, but you should have a ratchet strap in your off-road toolkit anyway. If you forget the soapy water on the tire it will still eventually seat, but be prepared for a loud BANG when it does. Hopefully the neighbors don’t call the cops when they think you shot someone! WATCH YOUR FINGERS AS YOU SEAT THE BEAD! If you catch a finger in there you’ll likely be taking a trip to the hospital.
6: Put the valve cap on and check for leaks. Spray the bead area liberally with the soapy water, and you will see bubbles if there are still leaks. If you can’t seem to get rid of all the leaks a coating of bead sealant on the edge of the rim should do the trick, but don’t use it if you don’t have to, as it makes a mess next time you need to remove the tire.
7: Put the tire back on, tighten the lug nuts slightly while the tire is in the air, then let the jeep back to the ground. Tighten the lug nuts to 95 ft lbs.
This will hopefully save you some cash. It sure beats taking it to a tire shop, paying $15-$35 and waiting for it to be done, only to have it mounted white letters out! Yuck! Not only that, you can’t drink a beer while you wait! What is this world coming to? You can at least have a beer while the tire fills up, if you do it yourself.