Tires are prone to going flat over time. In most cases, all you have to do is pump the tire with air. however, sometimes the tire bead will come off the rim. In order to fill up your tire again, you’ll have to seat it on the rim.
A tire bead is the inner edge of the tire that is fitted to the rim when the tire is inflated. When it comes loose, the tire deflates and your tractor becomes a burden. Below, you’ll find out how to seat a tire bead on a garden tractor.
Why Is Your Tire Losing Air?
How do you know if your tire is losing air abnormally? A normal tire will lose about 1-3 PSI a month, so if you’re losing more than that you should get it checked.
There are four reasons behind the loss of the air.
- Wheel damage
- Tire damage
- Osmosis (naturally)
Air condenses in cool weather and expands in warm weather. You probably know this from your chemistry classes. In wintertime, your car will detect lower PSI inside the tire.
When you start driving the PSI will increase as you begin to heat up the air particles inside the tire. This will keep happening for about 10 minutes, the air will then stop expanding.
Again, your chemistry class. Naturally, the air wants to escape the tire because of the high concentration there. It wants to be let out into the vast world outside the tire. Thus, any chance the air will get to escape, you’ll find your tire losing its pressure.
There could be a problem with the valves inside the wheels which release more air than they should. These deteriorate through the years due to weather conditions or bumpy roads.
Another problem with the wheels is that they could be bent or damaged. When part of the wheel is bent, the tire won’t be fitted tightly around the wheel, causing pressure to escape through the ill-fitted parts.
We get tire damage because the roads aren’t as clean as we’d like to think they are. Sometimes, a loose nail or other sharp objects may slash the tires. Small tears will be enough to cause the tire to lose air slowly.
If there is any damage done to the beads, air could escape from the small opening between the bead and the rim.
The bead doesn’t even need to be damaged, it could just loosen around the rim and still cause the tire to lose air. We’ll tell you how to bounce it back in position.
What Do Tires Do?
Good luck trying to steer a car with only a steering wheel. Similar to how our body and mind work in sync, the steering wheel, and tires do too.
Tires aren’t in sync only with the steering wheel, but also with the engine. They translate the engine’s power into movement.
The pressure inside them makes them keep the vehicles moving and support their weight. If it wasn’t for its bouncy quality, tires wouldn’t have held up the vehicle or absorbed shocks on the road while driving.
It’s fascinating how one small aspect of a vehicle can make a huge difference to it.
Different Methods on How to Seat a Tire Bead on a Garden Tractor
There are two main methods for reseating a tire bead. The first one involves the use of fire. I wouldn’t recommend this method for smaller tires or for inexperienced individuals. The next method involves increasing the pressure using an air compressor and a rope or string.
Seating a Tire Bead With Fire (the Risky Way)
I don’t recommend using this method because of how dangerous the outcomes could be. This mainly works for larger tires, try not to take the risk with smaller ones.
All you’ll need to use is starter fluid and a way to set it on fire. You’re going to spray the fluid in the gap between the tire bead and the rim then ignite it. The pressure from the fire will bounce the bead back into place.
After making sure that the fires are out, proceed to fill your tire with air before it deflates. Be careful the air emanating from the tire is really hot! When inflating the tire, don’t exceed the PSI limit. You’ll find the maximum PSI written on the side of the tire.
Should you choose to go through with this method, you should take great care. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby for any emergencies.
Seating a Tire Bead With Air Pressure (the Safe Way)
This method requires some muscle power. The smaller the tire you’re handling the less power you’ll need to carry out these steps.
Step 1: Choosing Your Tools
You’re going to need something to tie around the length of the tire. It should be elastic enough in order to be able to tie it and sturdy enough to handle the tire’s pressure. You have several options.
- Ratchet strap
- Tie-down straps
Step 2: Tying the Tire Down
Take your rope, or whatever you chose to use, and run it along the length of the tire, making sure it’s centered. If it’s not centered, the rope could slip off when you’re pumping air into the tire.
You don’t need to tie the rope very tightly, you’ll do that in the next step.
Step 3: Twist
Grab a screwdriver or any metal appliance that resembles it. Wedge it under the knot you just made and twist it. That will make the rope tight over the tire, and increase the pressure inside.
You may struggle a little bit with this step. The first twist is always the hardest one. If you get it done, then the rest of the work will be a walk in the park.
Step 3: Remove the Valve Stem
This step is optional but still recommended. Removing the valve stems will allow the air to flow easily with no restrictions.
When you’re not limited by anything when filling the tire with air, it makes it much quicker to do so.
Step 4: Use the Air Compressor
Fill the tire with air until the tire bead is pushed outwards and seated on the rim. Don’t over-inflate it, you’re still applying pressure to the tire.
Step 5: Put The Valve Stem Back on
The valve stem will prevent the pressure from escaping the tire. If pressure does escape, the tire bead will loosen around the rims again. You don’t want to go through all of that again, do you?
Step 6: Remove the Rope
Now that there’s no external pressure being applied, you can fill the tire to the maximum PSI level, and you’re done!
Overfilling the tire with pressure could cause it to burst. You should know the maximum PSI of your tire beforehand and fill your tire accordingly. If you’re unlucky enough, you’ll get in the way of the exploding tire which could cause severe injuries and sometimes death.
So be really careful when adding pressure to your tire.
When to Use Each Method
Each method has its time and place. It all just depends on the tire you have and the situation you’re facing.
If you’re dealing with one of the tractor’s bigger tires and can’t easily use the wrap around the circumference method, go for the fire method. With bigger tires, it’ll be hard to tie a rope around it, especially if you’re working alone.
Squashed tires and the explosive method go hand in hand. Because there’s no pressure in the tire, you won’t be able to wrap the rope around the tire. So you’ll have to turn to the other method.
Wrap Around Method
Contrary to the fire method, this method is perfect for small, more manageable tires. Assuming you only have limited space to fix your tire, you should go for this method. It doesn’t require much space and won’t set your garage on fire.
It’s best for cases where the gap between the tire bead and the rim is narrow. This indicates that there’s pressure inside, which you’ll need for this to work.
You may be wondering ‘why would I repair the tire myself?’. Well, do you really want to go through the trouble of taking the tire to a mechanic? A small tractor tire could easily be repaired in your own garage.
For larger tires, you should weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of going to a mechanic or using the fire method. If you’re a natural handyman with some experience, fixing your tire maybe your best option. It’ll save you some money, and time. After you fix the tire, your garden tractor will be up and running right away.
I can’t stress enough the importance of safety precautions when dealing with the tires yourself, especially if you choose to work with flammable fluid. Don’t work alone, always have someone there with you in case something goes wrong.