There are three main methods how car tires are mounted:

  • Using a machine.
  • Using a non-automatic tire changer.
  • By hand.

Mounting with the help of a machine is the easiest and the quickest way, usually used at tire shops and dealerships. A tire changer is of great help to those who can’t get the machine or get the car to a tire shop. Mounting tires by hand needs more care and precision, but it’s achievable if you don’t have a possibility to get a changer or a machine.

How Car Tires Are Mounted: Methods Explained

Using a Tire Machine

Tire mounting machine
Image source:

Tire machines may be different in design, but the main algorithm to using them is the same. Here is the full set of steps, which includes demounting and mounting a car tire on a rim. If you only need to know how car tires are mounted, start with the step 4 and jump to the step 10.

How Car Tires Are Demounted with a Tire Machine

  1. Deflate the tire by removing the valve stem core.
  2. Place the bead breaker of the automatic tire changer (tire machine) on the tire as close to the rim as possible. However, make sure you don’t touch it with the breaker to avoid scratches and other damage. Later on, even a small damage may become a problem when your car tires are mounted.
  3. Press the pedal to activate the bead breaker, then rotate the tire and to the same on the other side. After that, flip the tire and repeat the process on the opposite side. Make sure you hold the tire tight when activating the machine. As the result, the tire will push closer to the center of the rim.
  4. Put the rim with the tire (or without it if the car tires are mounted only) on the top of the machine and fix its position with the jaws. You can do it by pressing the pedal that locks them.
  5. Place the mount/demount head close to the edge of the rim and lock it.
  6. Take the lever bar and place it between the head and the tire. Make sure you don’t touch the rim edge with it or you could bend it when applying pressure.
  7. Pull the bead off the rim a bit and press the pedal that rotates the turntable. You will have one side of the tire demounted.
  8. To demount the other side, insert the bar in the same way (don’t touch the edge of the rim this time either), push it to down towards the lower edge of the rim and lift the tire a little bit. The lever bar will come out of the bottom side.
  9. Push the pedal to rotate the turntable, and you will successfully demount the tire. To take if off the machine, remove the mount/demount head (the arm it’s attached to, to be precise) out of the way.

How Car Tires Are Mounted with A Tire Machine

  1. Before mounting, lubricate the tire bead and the rim edge with a substance that works for you the best. However, make sure you don’t use soapy water or grease. The first isn’t slick enough, while the second will be really difficult to clean off and it may cause debeading of the tire during sharp cornering. A perfect lubricant will be slick enough, but it will also dry out after you finish mounting.
  2. Put the tire on the rim and swing the mount/demount arm back in against the edge of the rim. Make sure it’s a little bit farther than before.
  3. Place the tire at the angle that would put the lower bead diagonally towards the mount/demount element. As car tires are mounted, it’s important to make sure you get the right angle.
  4. Press the pedal to rotate the turntable, and the lower bead will sit on the rim.
  5. To mount the upper bead, place it the same diagonal way and turn the table just a little bit till nearly a half of the bead sits. Then, press on that half so the tire goes down the drop of the rim and finish turning the table little by little until the tire is seated. Use your knuckles to help it a bit. If you don’t push the tire lower, you may damage the bead.
  6. Release the arm and push it to its initial station.
  7. Seat the bead with the help of air pressure. Independent on how car tires are mounted, the bead doesn’t always sit on the edge of the rim once you put it there. Put a hose onto the valve stem and press the pedal to activate it. You will hear pop sounds as the bead fits the edge of the rim.
  8. Release the jaws, install the valve stem core back, and inflate the tire to the recommended pressure. You will see the current inflation rate at the gauge on the machine.
  9. If you see it necessary, check whether there’s no air leak in the tire.

Such a method won’t take more than 5-10 minutes if you do everything right. You can whatch a video to see the process.

Using a Manaual Tire Changer

Manual tire changerIt’s easier to understand how car tires are mounted with the manual changer if you understand how to use the machine. The specifics of work and the steps are mostly the same, only there’s no pedals this time. The algorithm goes for demounting and mounting as well, so if you only need to mount a tire, start with the steps 6 and 7, jumping to the step 10.

How Car Tires Are Demounted with a Tire Changer

  1. Remove the valve stem core with a special tool.
  2. Put the tire on the base of the changer. If you do it right, the tooth of the lever action arm will be positioned between the bead of the tire and the edge of the rim.
  3. Attach the lever bar to the action arm and press on it to move the tooth down and break the bead.
  4. Turn tire quarter at a time and repeat the bead braking. Remember moving in sections, no matter whether your car tires are mounted or demounted.
  5. Flip the tire and repeat the process again.
  6. Place the rim onto the changer with the rim face (and the valve stem) up. Put the stopper pin in one of the holes where lug nuts are usually placed. This will stop the tire from moving on its own.
  7. Put the winged washer teeth down on the rim and spin the pipe nut to its position.
  8. Place the tooth of the lever bar between the rim and the bead of the tire and lift it until that part of the bead goes off the rim. Turn the lever around the center to remove the whole sidewall.
  9. Lift the tire with the lever bar so the lower side is at the centerline of the rim. Grab the lower bead with the tooth of the bar and turn around the center again and again until the tire is removed.

How Car Tires Are Mounted with a Tire Changer

  1. Clean and lubricate the bead of the tire and the edge of the rim.
  2. Put the tire on the fixed rim and push it as far as you can. As the result, the lower sidewall will end up on the rim.
  3. For the upper side, use the lever bar placed between the rim and the bead to be put on the time. As you lift it a bit, a small section of the bead will fold over the metal edge. Take small sections and repeat the same process until the whole tire is on the rim.
  4. Take the rim and the tire off the changer, install the valve stem core back, and put a ratchet strap around the tire centerline. After the car tires are mounted, the strap will help you seat the bead.
  5. Apply pressure to make the tire look as snug to the rim as possible.
  6. Fill the tire with some air to seat the beads. The tire will pop as it sits on the rim, so make sure you don’t keep your hands on it.
  7. Remove the strap and fill the tire to the recommended pressure.
  8. Check if there’s a leak in the tire if necessary.

This method is also quite fast if you master it. The first couple of attempts may last more than 15 minutes as there’s no automatics to assist. But after you get used, it will take 5-15 minutes. You can watch the video for better understanding.

By Hand

DIY tire mounting may be dangerous in terms of bead damage, but if you’re careful enough, you will be able to do it with the help of a pair of simple lever bars, lubricant, and your bodyweight. This algorithm shows only hoe car tires are mounted, as you don’t have to position and lock the rim anywhere.

  1. Put the rim on the floor, better on a piece of carton or a blanket/towel.
  2. Clean it and the tire bead and lubricate them well.
  3. Position the tire on the rim by pushing on one edge of the tire.
  4. Stand on the tire and help the rest of the bead do down the rim with your bodyweight.
  5. For the upper bead, start with the side of the rim that is opposite to the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). Tuck one section of the upper bead under the edge of the rim and hold it with your knee(s).
  6. Make sure you have two lever bars within your hand-reach as your car tires are mounted. Take one, put it between the tire and the edge of the rim, and move outwards to tuck another section of the tire.
  7. Keep the lever bar in place by stepping on it, take another bar and do the same with the remaining portion of the bead. Make sure you act carefully or you can scratch the rim or damage the tire bead.
  8. Seat the beads by air-pumping the tire. Make sure you stay farther from the tire at this point, as it may jump a bit while sitting on the rim.
  9. Fill the tire with air according to the recommended inflation rate and check whether there are leaks if you need to.

Check out the video to understand the process.

Mounting off-road tires by hand may be a bit vice versa, as you will have to squeeze the wheel into the tire. Also, note that it may be more difficult to get used to how car tires are mounted by hand if they are low-profile. This is because the sidewalls of such tires are shorter and thicker.

Should I Balance Tires After Mounting?

Yes, knowing how car tires are mounted isn’t enough for completing the process – the final step is tire balance. It’s the process that helps make the weight distribution within the tire even. This is usually not a manufacture defect, but many tires have stiffer spots in them. You have to find those spots and balance them by putting small weights on the rim opposite the spot.
The main sign of tire imbalance is vibration at speeds of 45 mph and higher. If not fixed, it may make your tires wear unevenly and/or prematurely. The wheel and suspension parts may damage beyond repair or wear out earlier as well.
NOTE: Make sure you don’t confuse tire balance and wheel alignment. Both processes are crucial for your tire longevity and your safety, and both should be done once you mount the tires. However, they are different in nature, as one deals with the weight within the tire and another – with the angles at which suspension is positioned.

Tire Balancing Methods

Tire Balance at a Mechanic

There are several methods to balance your tires at a mechanic, independent on how car tires are mounted:

  • Static.
    This type is one-line balancing (imagine the tire is a flat disc – that’s one-line/one-plane balance). A mechanic puts the tire on a supporter or a bubble balancer. The heavier spots will make one of the sides of the tire tilt, so opposite that spot a small weight will be needed.
  • Dynamic.
    This type works with all sides of the tire (it’s also called dual-plane, side-to-side, or up-and-down balance). Mechanics use computers to perform it. The tire is placed on a special machine that then spins at the speeds from 10 to 60 mph. The computer diagnoses the tire and detects all weight imperfections. They usually also tell how much weight is needed to balance the tire. Such a precision will help you avoid going to a tire shop after your car tires are mounted.
  • Road force.
    This type simulates road driving conditions, showing the most precise results. A tire is placed on a special machine with a roller pressing against it with the estimated weight of the vehicle. Censors then read the pressure around the circumference of the tire and show all abnormal spots.

Do-It-Yourself Tire Balance

Also independently from how car tires are mounted on the wheels, you can perform the balancing yourself. There are two methods:

  • Balancing a tire with a bubble balancer
    Balancing a tire with a bubble balancer. Image source:

    With a balancer.
    Simply put the tire onto the balancer and spin it (if you have a dynamic mechanism) or wait till it settles in a position (if you have a static one). As you see the irregularities, mark the opposite sides with a chalk or a marker. Put the weights on and try the tire out. As you try, you will find the exact imbalance spot and the right amount of weight to put opposite them.

  • Without a balancer.
    Choose the wheel to check first, remove all the weights and dirt from it and the tire and put a small weight at the 12 o’clock position. Drive the tire, increasing the speed to about 55 mph gradually. If you still feel the vibration, stop and reattach the weight 45° from that spot. Repeat the same actions till you find the spot at which the vibration will cease or start at a higher speed.

You can learn more on the types of tire balancing and its importance from this article.

Tire Mounting and Balancing Cost

Car tires are mounted and balanced for $13-$45, depending on the tire shop or dealership you go to, as well as the type of tire. Low-profile run-flat tires will be more expensive to mount and balance than regular touring tires. Tire size also matters, so an off-road tire will be costlier to put on and maintain than a usual small tire.
You can find out whether the prices are changing and find a good tire shop in the neighborhood with this search tool.

Common Mounting and Balancing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

There are mistakes that are important to know about before car tires are mounted. No matter whether you are a driver who wants to do it yourself or a tire shop worker, some of the mistakes may be unclear for both.

  • Failing to recognize peculiarities.
    Before working with any tire-wheel assembly, you should recognize the TPMS, the run-flat technology, etc. If you don’t know that, you may damage the sensors of the pressure monitoring system or damage a run-flat tire when mounting it.
  • Improper work with reverse mount wheels.
    Reverse-mount wheels become quite popular nowadays, but improper handling may lead to damaging them. Chrome wheel scratches turn into corrosion quickly.
  • Handling the bead breaker improperly.
    Inserting it too close or not close enough to the tire or rim may damage the tire plies or bend/scratch the wheel.
  • Not using lubricant or using a wrong one.
    Lubricant is important if you don’t want to damage the tire and/or the wheel, and sometimes it’s even recommended to put it on the tire-rim connection when demounting. Using a wrong mixture may start wheel corrosion or cause tire bead slippage.
  • Handling the lever bars without care.
    If even once the lever bar slips, you may damage the wheel, damage the tech that might be there and/or rip the tire bead. Depending on the type and degree of damage, it may cost you up to $2,000 to fix the issue.

Before car tires are mounted, make sure you know exactly how to do it and have all the needed tools by side. If you choose to go to a tire shop for the procedure, choose a professional that has a high-quality automatic tire changer. You can save about $20 per tire if you do it yourself, but professional hands and a good machine may be a better way out.