- The first step is to inspect the new wheels. Whether they are new or old, you’ll want to make sure the rings are flat, and check the rings and wheels for burs. Look at the silicone on the wheel to make sure it covers the seam entirely. Also make sure that you have the right diameter wheel for your tires.
- Before you start mounting the first tire, bolt the wheels onto the front and rear axles – you should do this with any new wheel. In addition to verifying the basics such as having the right bolt pattern and that the hole in the wheel clears the hub or axle register, also make sure that the wheel clears the brakes and that there isn’t any interference at full left and right steering lock.
- There are two common sizes of holes for valvestems typically used in automotive wheels. One is 0.453 inches in diameter and the other is 0.625. The Eaton wheels we used for this installation use the larger valvestem. If you are using a rubber vavlestem and it pulls into place in the wheel easily, you have a .0453-inch valvestem in a 0.625 hole. It will fall into the wheel once you have the tire mounted and try to fill it with air. Trust us. And then you have to take the bead ring back off and fish the valvestem out of the tire. The metal thread-in valvestems generally come with two rubber grommets to fit either sized hole.
- This is the tricky part: getting one side of the tire to slip over the outer bead of the wheel. It helps leave the tire in the sun to get it warm and flexible. Then use tire lubricant or splash apply a little soapy water on the outside of the tire bead to help it slip into place. Position the tire at an angle over the wheel so that the bead is already over half of the wheel circumference. We use a Hi-Lift Jack and the bumper of a vehicle to apply force down on the tire. Stand on the tire to keep the jack from lifting it off the wheel as you jack the tire down. Be safe – don’t let the jack lift the vehicle! Work carefully and slowly, and eventually you’ll get the whole tire over the wheel.
- Lay the wheel and tire on the floor and center the bead of the tire over the wheel. You may want to use a rubber or plastic mallet to get the tire to sit on the wheel properly. Putting it on a bucket is sometimes needed to get the tire to stay positioned on the wheel while you set the ring in place.
- Center the bead ring on the wheel. Line up the bolt holes and start threading in bolts. We like to start with four bolts at opposing positions on the wheel to get the ring perfectly aligned before we start the rest of the bolts. If you have aluminum wheels, coat the fastener threads in anti-seize before installing them.
- If you are using new, steel wheels, the threads will have powder coat or paint on them. You can use a tap to clean the threads or simply count on some grunting to get the bolts started.
- The wheel manufacturers say that you are never to use an air ratchet or impact wrench to tighten the beadlock fasteners. We agree that you shouldn’t use an air tool to tighten the bolts, but it sure saves a lot of time if you use an air ratchet to run the bolts down to the point where they touch the bead ring. From there you can tighten them with hand tools to make sure the bead ring is pulled down evenly. Work in a criss-cross pattern (12 o’clock position on the wheel, then 6 o’clock, then 3 o’clock and then 9 o’clock).
- You’ll need a torque wrench that can accurately tell you when you reach the wheel manufacturer’s torque specification. Our Eaton wheels called for 10-15 lb-ft, which is lower than the range for a lot of torque wrenches. Torque the bolts in the same criss-cross pattern, and double-check the torque after you tighten all of the bolts.
- The next step is getting the other bead to seat on the wheel. This is done with a combination of pushing the tire over the wheel while filling the tire with air. A bit of tire lubricant or soapy water on the wheel helps here too. We hoist the wheel and tire onto a bucket that fits inside the wheel so that we can push down on the tire without the wheel sitting on the ground. A ratchet strap around the circumference of the tire can also be used.
- You will probably need to wiggle the tire around as the air is added. The sound of the air in the tire will change when the bead is sealed on the wheel. Some people are nervous about adding air to the tire while leaning over it. You can use a clamp-on tire chuck and wiggle the tire with your hands on the tread and not lean over the tire and wheel if you prefer. Fill the tire until you hear the inside bead of the tire pop onto the wheel and fully seat, which will likely happen at between 20-40 psi of air pressure. Retorque the bead rings after the first 50 miles and then every 500 miles.
It’s easy to mount tires on beadlock wheels. You won’t need any special tire or wheel tools. What you’ll need is the wheels, tires, hand tools and a torque wrench and plenty of time: each wheel took us about an hour to mount the tire, bolt on the bead ring and torque all of the attaching fasteners.
The biggest challenge when mounting the tires is getting it over the wheel. By design, this is a tight fit with the opening in the tire being a bit smaller than diameter of the wheel. We’ve seen people overcome this in a variety of ways. Some entertaining to watch and others just plain scary. We prefer to use a Hi-Lift Jack and some fancy footwork to slowly work the tire onto the wheel.
In this article, we were mounting a set of BFGoodrich Krawlers T/A KX tires onto Eaton steel beadlock wheels from National Tire & Wheel. These are affordable beadlocks that will hold up to a generous amount of grinding on rocks.