Nothing brings a fun day off roading to a halt faster than a tire blowout. Unfortunately, tire issues are just another one of the things that can go wrong when you least expect it. Carrying spares on your steel truck bumpers or in the truck bed is always a great idea for a quick fix; but if you happen to be out without one, have no fear - the day is not lost. There are other things that enthusiastic off-roaders can do to remedy the situation other than limp to safety and call for a tow. With a little muscle and some know-how, a tire that’s been knocked off the wheel bead can be reseated and reinflated in the field, leaving plenty of time for more off-roading fun.
Common Off-Roading Issue
For safety and better traction, most people reduce pressure when off-roading making the tires just a little softer than they would be for street driving. Although great for hill climbing, it can really strain the wheel beads, especially when the tire flexes as it rolls over obstacles. Bead locks are a good idea, since there’s always a risk of unseating the tire if the wheel bead breaks, but not everyone has them. It’s a common problem, so anyone who spends any amount of time off-roading with their special decked-out truck should learn how to easily reseat a tire so they can just continue on.
Jack the Truck Up
To get an unseated tire seated again, it has to be off the ground high enough that it will still be raised even after it’s reinflated. Keep the tire on the truck, since it’s easier to work on it that way, using the truck as an anchor. Trying to reseat a wheel while its off the truck is a lot more difficult.
Clean the Wheel Bead
The key to getting a good wheel bead that will retain air and keep your truck moving is to clean the bead on both wheel and tire. In most cases, when a tire comes off the wheel in the field, dirt gets into the tire and on the bead. For now, don’t worry if this has happened, as any debris can be removed later. Instead, focus on cleaning the bead so there’s nothing on either that will prevent a good seal. Wipe them down or wash them with water, if necessary, so both surfaces are clean.
This is the part where lots of muscle is needed. Using a portable air supply, one person should start to inflate the truck tire while one or two other people pull it forward on the wheel to attempt to seat it again. If the inside bead is still in place, this shouldn’t be too difficult to do. Once the tire is inflated enough, it should snap back into the wheel bead.
If both the inside and outside beads are unseated, this step will be a little more challenging. A ratchet strap tightened around the center of the wheel during inflation can sometimes help get the inside bead back into place first. Then, once both beads are reseated, inflate the tire to the required pressure.
Like a lot of off-roading repairs, reseating a blown tire while out on the trail involves some strength and skill. The good news is, it’s definitely doable, so the day won’t be wasted. You’ll probably want to take it easy so you don’t unseat your tire again - it’s not a repair you’ll want to do twice in one day, that’s for sure. At the very least, you’ll be able to drive your truck home and think about investing in some beadlocks, or rigging up a spare using one of the many steel bumpers with tire carriers that are available today!