The old reseating a tire bead with lighter fluid trick. Bad idea?


I've done it a few times but after reading the article by Scott Brady "How to: reseat a tire bead on a 4WD", I wonder if I have been doing something terribly wrong. Obviously he wouldn't have written the article and taken the time to explain the whole process on video if the lighter fluid trick was a perfectly adequate solution to the same problem. So aside from the obvious safety hazards, will someone explain to me why one would want to take the time and extra equipment to do it the "right" way?


First thing, you don't have a fire lit inside your tire if you do it with air pressure. Secondly, there is no chance of possibly blowing the tire off the bead (not likely either way, but still possible). The last time I saw it done, I was in the driver's seat of the rig it was done on, perched on a rock ledge in Uwharrie Nat'l Forrest, NC. It was kinda violent and bounced the truck sideways. Afterward, the tire was removed and sold (friend went to larger tire) and inside the one that was starting fluid seated, was a hand full or so of small rubber pellets where there had been a fire inside the tire for a few seconds and stripped some rubber.

The club I am in around locally blew a tire stem out of a rim during a demonstration one time. Someone left the schrader valve in.

Even with low volume, 12V pumps, I've not yet been unable to re-seat a bead. Twice the vehicle has had to be raised up a little off the ground, but I was able to get it seated and inflated without any issue. But, the tire should be off the ground if you use the starting fluid trick too.


Expedition Leader
A ratchet strap around the center of the tread is a good trick as well. It pulls the center in and forces the beads against the rim so you can put air in it. The next tip would be to try and stop immediately after you hear the air rush out. I've seen tires just loose air only to have it totally off the bead from driving a few more feet. If your going to do it with fire then remember to remove the valve core or when the hot gas cools it can suck the tire right back off of the bead. Then you used up all the oxygen and it won't ignite again. Guess what happens next? More starting fluid, lighter fluid or gasoline goes in the tire and all that does is start a roaring fire.

Willy G

I have seen it done, how else do you think they seat the bead on Giant tractor tires, (except when you have an air tank), but when doing so, you need to have a reliable air source to fill the tire up and keep the bead seated as Stumpalump said, but It is a very good idea to have someone who has done it before show you how to do it properly, so you don't hurt your self or others


Expedition Leader
Ratchet strap was essentially how tire dealers used to do it (some still do), though they have a fancy tool for it.
I remember watching them as a kid and thinking, "That's clever."

LR Max

Local Oaf
I've seen it done numerous times with the lighter fluid (or WD40, or any other flammable aeresol). Once I got my C02 tank, I never worried about the lighter thing. Just ratched strap around the tire, then add air. Works like a charm.

I know not everyone has an OBA system, but if you are airing down (which is were I see the most lost beads) then OBA is a very great thing to have!!!


Expedition Leader
:sombrero: Thats a handy little tool and-

Ratchet strap was essentially how tire dealers used to do it (some still do), though they have a fancy tool for it.
I remember watching them as a kid and thinking, "That's clever."
It's called a PNEUMATIC BEAD EXPANDER-I've got one and started using one 38 years ago in my Goodyear tire shop-Paradise, Ca

Thats it, just on the left of the (Comealong Handle)-

They are priceless, but you gotta have an OBA/mobile compressor-

:costumed-smiley-007:wings: JIMBO


It definitely works but is dangerous. People have argued with me (without me arguing, that's fun to be a part of) that it's not dangerous. People have been killed seating a bead with ether or similar methods. I read a newspaper article this year about it killing a father and putting the son in the hospital - I wish I had saved the link. I won't do it and if someone wants to do it I stay waaaay clear.

Hill Bill E.

Oath Keeper
Generally, if a you loose a bead on a tire that has been inflated on the wheel already, it's not that hard to reseat.

Only time I have seen it be a problem, is on tires that were stacked on top of each other for a while (with no wheel)

Or on tires that are mounted on wheels too wide for the tire, (ie: a 33x10.5 tire on a 12" wide wheel)

I've used the starting fluid method, but prefer not to if avoidable.


Tail-End Charlie
I've seen it done numerous times with the lighter fluid (or WD40, or any other flammable aeresol).
WD-40 can still burn, but after they stopped using propane as the propellant, it's not nearly as much fun...I it used to be.

Doesn't work for crap anymore for finding vacuum leaks.


Supporting Sponsor, Overland Certified OC0018
As some of you know I run the tire clinics at the Overland Expo, a small claim to fame I know :sombrero:, but based on this I have the following advice.

If you are equipped with the right tools there is no need to use exploding fluids to re-seat your tire onto the bead. Not only is it dangerous but any unburnt solvent will destroy the air-proof seal on the inside of your tire. Please see the series of videos on tire repair here.

Remember you carry a spare and can switch out the unseated tire with the spare. If you are ill equipped with tire repair tools and a good air supply, you have already used your spare, have good health insurance, and have a medi-vac policy, and feel luck.......

Using a ratchet strap to squeeze the tire so that it touches the rim is in most cases not needed, good technique to get the bead up against the rim is usually all that's called for. On some of the bigger stiffer tires a ratchet strap can help seal the tire to the rim but must be used with great caution. Leave the strap in place only until the tire starts to hold air and then release the strap. There are cases where the strap has been left on, more pressure has been added to the tire, the strap has broken, and the buckle hit the person in the head. One case I know of resulted in the person suffering permanent brain damage.

Watch the videos, get the right tools, practice in your garage on an old tire, and stay safe.


94, 95 I worked at a truck stop we had this tire setter tank with a 2 inch valve worked well but winter service calls was tough and I set lots of beads with starting fluid, big boom in big thick tires. I set an 8 inch trailer 1 TIME and never again scared the crap out of me I started using a rope and stick like a tourniquet then ratchet straps, tighten it until it held air back it off a bit add a little more air and so on.


I've taught it using the ratchet strap method, the either method and a water seal method.

If you know how to do it right the either method is without a doubt the quickest way to do it. Either(starting fluid) is a great thing to have anyway - it starts a cold cantankerous car(don't use it on a diesel), it's a great cleaner AND it will reset a bead in no time flat!