5 Steps to Break a Tire Bead

Most 4×4 enthusiasts and overland travelers know how to break a tire bead. These are drivers whose frequent off-road trips expose their tires to roadside debris. This rubbish then makes its way inside the tire and onto the wheel if left unattended. Hence the need for the breaking of the bead.

As long as the bead stays intact, it doesn’t allow any gap to form between the tire’s outer edge and the rim. That makes it impossible for anyone to carry out repairs on the tire’s inside. But that is far from being the only reason why you may want to break your tire’s seal.

Removing the bead also allows you to get the tire off the rim quickly. You won’t have to take your vehicle to a normal shop setting to have its tire replaced. The application of minimal effort from your side will allow you to do the job on your own.  

Before you break your tire’s bead

Here’s what you need to know:

Types of bead breakers

Types of bead breakers

Following are the three major types of bead breaker designs:

Shoe and Lever Mechanism

Such bead breakers perform admirably on new passenger vehicle tires, motorcycle tires, and trailers’ tires. They have a shoe-shaped tool that applies pressure on the tire’s sidewall. This sidewall is located next to the bead, and pushing it will force the bead to break its connection with the rim.

On the flip side, such bead breakers don’t work well with difficult to change tires and old tires. It is because the mechanism is quite large and too bulky. You can only use such bead breakers with tires that are easy to replace and new tires.


  • Low cost
  • Easy to follow
  • Works well with passenger vehicles’ tires

  • Won’t give the desired results with difficult-to-change tires


Plier Type Mechanism

This mechanism counts on a plier-type tool to apply force between the lip of the rim and the bead. The tool has a spike that directly imposes a separating force on the bead as well as on the tire’s sidewall, weakening and ultimately breaking the connection between both.

It has its downsides as well. The spike on the tool makes it extremely likely to leave scratches on the wheels and mar their surface. Also, since the tool is very large, you’d have to apply your full body weight to get the desired results.


  • Extremely effective
  • Gets the job done quickly

  • Might leave scratches on the wheel


Clamp and Ram Mechanism

Here is the most effective and quick way to break beads on ATVs and other difficult-to-replace tires. The ‘Clamp and Ram’ mechanism relies on a tool with a pointed foot that exploits the space between the lip of the rim and the tire bead.

It also has a padded clamp that goes all the way inside the sidewall with little push from a wrench. The entire mechanism is actuated by another bolt that requires little human input. Also, since the tool is clamped, there is little danger of it damaging the sidewall.


  • Works well on deteriorated tires
  • Requires minimal user effort
  • Won’t damage the sidewall

  • Tool is pricey


How to Break a Tire Bead

Follow these steps to break your tire’s bead:

What you’ll need?

  • Breaker bar
  • Hammer

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Remove the valve core

Remove the valve core

Doing this is necessary as letting the air pressure out will help you in easily and quickly take the wheel off the rim. Make sure that you only remove the wheel from its rim when it has lost its entire air pressure. You can make sure of that by pressing your hands against the tire.


Step 2: Place tire on a flat surface

Place tire on a flat surface

The surface on which you’re going to place the tire should be solid. It should also be capable of handling the pressure you’re going to apply on the tire in the upcoming steps.


Step 3: Slide breaker bar between the rim and the tire

Slide breaker bar between the rim and the tire

Make sure that the pointed/tapered edge of the breaker bar is pointed away from the rim. This edge is extremely sharp and exposing it to the rim might allow it to leave scratches. It is, therefore, necessary that you point it toward the tire.


Step 4: Hit the breaker’s top using a hammer

Hit the breaker’s top using a hammer

After steadying the breaker between the tire and the rim, hit its top using a hammer. This will drive in the breaker in the opening between the rim and the tire. Continue hitting the top of the breaker until there’s a sound of the expulsion of air or small pop.

This noise will tell you that you’ve partially broken the bead. Follow it up by pushing your breaker bar toward the ground. Apply your full body weight to thrust the breaker in. Few seconds of effort will let you completely break the bead.


Final Step: Rotate the breaker around the inside of the tire

Rotate the breaker around the inside of the tire

As you’re rotating the breaker around the inside of the tire, continue hammering it from above. This will ensure the complete break-up of the bead along the circumference of the tire.

Continue rotating around the breaker until the tire is completely off the rim. Then turn around and apply this process on the tire’s opposite side.



Breaking the tire’s bead is important for two reasons. It helps expose the inner surface of the tire for clean-up of dirt and debris. Breaking the bead also allows you to remove the tire from its rim on your own, thereby saving you the money that you’d otherwise have to pay to a tire repairman.

There’s another reason why you may want to break the tire’s bead on your own. The entire process is incredibly easy. You just have to follow the abovementioned instructions and you’ll be removing the tire off its rim in less than thirty minutes.

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