The following list is a quick guide to getting your tyres fitted right the first time. Of course, there are dozens of other things that should also be done when fitting new tyres, but it would take an age to incorporate them into this one article. I have tried to include the most important ones!
So here goes:
Make Sure You Deflate Old Tyres Entirely Before Removing Them From the Wheels
If you don’t, you may not be able to get your rims sitting flush on the hub, so you can’t get the new tyre on. Also, when you fit the new Pirelli Tyres Derby, if it’s even slightly touching a section of the old tyre that can still be inflated, you will never get it to sit in the bead right, and at best, it will leak and, at worst, blow off under pressure!
Make Sure Your Rims Are Clean Before Trying to Fit Tyres
Those little bits of fluff or corrosion sometimes hidden away between rim and alloy/hub can stop a tyre from seating correctly, resulting in leakage. The same applies to any matter stuck on your alloy itself, which may prevent close contact between rim and rubber.
Clean them with glass cleaner (or something similar) and a rag for stubborn residue, but avoid using wire wool or metal pads as they can scratch some surfaces and may damage anodizing.
Check the Tyre Pressure of New Tyres Before Fitting Them
Even if you’re not going to be running more than 30psi, checking them first allows you to check for leaks (a needle and soap bubbles will tell you more efficiently if there’s a problem), by inflating them first, checking their internal structure for any issues and using the ‘pinch test’ which is done by pinching the sidewall close to where it protrudes from the rim to see how much give it has.
If there are any bulges, questionable areas, or too much give, don’t fit them! Also, double-check tyre pressures when fitting previously used tyres that have been ‘off the rim’ for a while – they will almost certainly feel softer than when they were fitted, so it’s worth giving them another quick check.
Always Install Valves in the Correct Orientation
Most modern tyres have their valve stems pointing upwards to prevent incorrect fitting and leakage if mounted on rims with CV joints (and some alloy wheels!).
For high-pressure applications on racing cars, the same applies even if you’re not concerned about leaks because of offset CV-joints or alloy wheels that are guaranteed against air loss – on any car where tyre pressures are excessively high, always make sure valves are installed in an upright position to avoid the risk of damage!
Never Mix Tyre Brands/types/ages Unless You Know It’s Ok
For example, if one tyre has a 1-ply sidewall and another a 3-ply sidewall, there is every chance they will not fit together. Always check tyres of the same brand and model as well as those produced in the same year (a new range may be an exception to this rule), even if they look like they’ll fit, as you won’t know how old each bead seal is.
If Reusing Alloy Wheels, Always Check Tyre Pressures Before Fitting Them
Alloy wheels can become chipped or damaged to the point where they lose their airtightness after long periods of disuse, so make sure you give any used wheel a quick press with your thumb first to see if any air leaks out, then give it another press once the tyre is mounted if still suspect.
Remember that mainly steel wheels will usually have rusty-looking beads which can’t be seen by just using your eyesight – you need to use a torch behind them to check for corrosion between bead and alloy.
Never Hold Tyres on Rims With Anything Sharp While Fitting or Removing Them
This includes screwdrivers, tyre levers, or any jagged object, even if you think they are clean! It only takes one tiny piece of grit in-between tyre bead and rim to make an airtight seal impossible…
Make Sure Your Hands Are Free From Grease/dirt/grease Before Trying to Touch Any Tyre
Regardless of how close you think you’ve looked after them, it only takes one microscopic globule of grease to make a tyre insert badly (and I mean very severely) at the same point where you tried to get it into position.
Do Not Use Any Sort of Lubricant on Tyres When Fitting
This includes water-based aerosol tyre lubes, which contain mostly glycol/silicone (which can cause the rubber to degrade over time). Vaseline, cooking oil, or even WD40! While not strictly speaking an issue with rims, if in doubt about what sort of product you are using for this specific job, don’t do it!
All soapy water will create wet surfaces that may result in slipping against each other while removing or fitting – soapy water will not allow you to get the tyre on. If you have no other means of fitting a tyre, use soapy water or even saliva to lubricate it while fitting!
Before Removing Any Wheel Nuts, Always Air Up Your Tyres if Possible
This is done for two reasons: Firstly, take note that whatever tools are used are clean before being placed around alloy wheels after using them elsewhere, e.g., on the brake callipers.
Secondly, remember that all alloy wheels should be installed with washers under the head of their bolts. The heads are usually smaller than the mating holes in alloy wheels, which creates metal-on-metal contact between threads and can cause damage unless washers are placed there beforehand…
Finally, Never Use Tyre Levers to Fit Tyres if They Can Be Avoided
This is an old-fashioned method that used to be necessary with ash-core or cotton/canvas tyre inserts, but not for modern rubber beads. If you have no alternative, remember to clean any rim surface beforehand and preferably fit any safety wire when threading the last few turns onto the alloy when applying torque to the end of a nut.
As Usual, It’s Worth Repeating
Do not damage rims in general! This includes using tools like screwdrivers on them – even if you think there’s nothing wrong with doing so, please don’t! If in doubt about whether a protrusion on a tool will cause damage, always check by gently touching your alloy with it before applying any force at all – if there is the slightest chance of damage happening, then don’t do it!
If You Haven’t Already Done So, Remember to Check Your Alloy Wheels for Concealed Damage Before Mounting Tyres on Them
This goes double for aftermarket alloys which are usually thinner-walled than OEM wheels and therefore more prone. To scratches or corrosion under paint coatings…
never try to pry off an alloy wheel bead seal with anything sharp or pointed unless you want to see how much skill it takes to remove a tyre that won’t come off without leaving permanent scrapes/dents in one side of the alloy rim – just apply plenty of leverage around tyre edge using Car Tyres Derby levers instead.