Step 38: How to Inflate a Tire that Won't Grip the Rim

Picture of How to Inflate a Tire that Won't Grip the Rim
Let's say you just got a great deal on a vehicle because it's got flat tires.

You could have gotten an even better deal on a car with no wheels at all, chickens living in it, and a tree growing through the roof, but that's for later.

If at all possible inflate the tires before attempting to drag the car anywhere.
You don't want to dislodge the tire from the rim.
Little cigarette-lighter-plug powered compressors work pretty well for this, or this homemade compressed air can
If you already dragged the tire off the rim, or the tires were already that way, you won't be able to inflate them. Here's how to get the tire seated back onto the rim.

First jack up the car so there's no force on the tire.
Then wrap a rope around the tire as shown, put a stick through the rope, and twist the stick until the tread of the tire is squished down all around the tire. That will force the edges of the tire outward onto the rim. If the tire still is too loose for the regular air chuck to fill it, you can use an airgun to blow air under the bead of the tire as shown here. This tire is now inflated.

At my tire shop they use a ratcheting cargo strap around the tire for this, and in tough cases they use really large quantities of goopy greaselike soap around the rim. If you ask for a handful of that stuff they'll be really happy to give it to you.
ians31 year ago

I just tried this on my ebike front tire (16x5 tubeless) which suddenly deflated on the way home. There was a dent in the rim. Used cargo strap with ratchet. Worked perfect. Then tapped in the dent with rubber mallet. Thankyou. Probably saved me 60 bucks. Gonna carry the strap and compressor from now on though.

KauaiHawaii3 years ago
The trick to getting the tire to seal on the rim and then inflate is applying GOOP between the rim bead area and tire.
GOOP can be made by taking a handful of baking flour and mixing with dish washing liquid such as Joy and a little water. Apply liberally.
Then use ratchet strap on center of tire to apply pressure and help seat tire.
Inflate with air compressor. Done. : )
tulekah5 years ago
saw a video a while back from the dakar rally. they jacked the car up so the flat was in the air, sprayed in a lot of wd40 and threw a lighted match at the tire. the wd40 ignited and the tire swelled up instantly. then they drove away.
TexSon5 years ago
You can also use a ratching tie-down strap around the tire to seat it to the rim.
_soapy_8 years ago
I've seen the heated air from lighter fuel used to do this. Spray some around the inside, then add a flame. The explosive heating of the air will shove the tyre back on for you, then you just inflate as normal.
I've seen a tire guy use a quick shot (1 to 1.5 seconds) of ether (starting fluid) to the inside of a truck tire, then spray a trail across the sidewall towards the tread, and quickly strike a lighter at the end of the trail. BOOM! The bead is set, and you can air up the tire normally. Very, very freakin' dangerous, and experience is the only way to learn how much to use. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see video of a guy who does NOT know how to do it.

Most tire guys use a blaster like killerjackalope says. You can fill it with compressed air at the shop, then carry it around like a suitcase.
freedive578 years ago
Wipe the bead on the rim and the tire with a clean dry cloth first. Goop the rim of the tire and the bead on the wheel - makes it WAY easier to pop the bead back on which in many cases is a press fit. Goop will also seal the loose bead from air leaking until the press fit takes over. Vaseline. Margarine. You get the idea.
Vaseline? Margarine? If I remember right, oil and the like breaks down the rubber, that is why soap or fitter's goop is used if you value the safety of your tires.
bar of soap can be a half decent substitute for proper bead grease my main problem with this method is that we have seven dents above the tyre fitting machine from doing this with tyres for bobcat diggers (little skid steer loaders) and when you have to put 50Psi min. in to seal the tyre it will be putting a few hundred pounds of outward forfce on the loading strap... when you 'pop' it the ratchet becomes a deadly projectile. if you have a good big tyre with high pressure then you can use the air from the to seal it unless you have a blaster (air reservoir with a flat nozzle that blast air in through the bead at much higher rates than compressor can) P.S. used to be a tyre fitter