Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-18-2003, 06:54 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Ohio
Posts: 10,527
New car tires: Can I install them myself?

Not sure if this should go on GQ or IMHO. I chose the latter.

One of the things I really hate is the ritual of going to a tire place and getting tires installed on my vehicle. I donít why, but I always feel like Iím paying way too much.

So I was thumbing through the Harbor Freight Tool catalog yesterday and noticed they had a tire mounting stand/tool for $35. Hmmmm. I have heard you can order tires via the Internet for much less than what they charge at the retail stores. So I was thinking: If I bought the tire mounting stand and bought the tires over the Internet, could I install the tires myself? Here are the issues as I see them:

1. Balancing. I once saw a tire balancing tool in a J.C. Whitney catalog. It was basically a stepped cone with a bubble level on top, and was pretty cheap (less than $20). Is this good enough? Or must they be dynamically balanced?

2. Assuming I have the tire mounting stand, are there any special techniques or procedures I should be aware of?

3. Disposal. Will a trash dump accept tires?

Just wondering what your thoughts wereÖ
Old 09-18-2003, 07:20 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Portlandia
Posts: 39,117
You need to have them spin-balanced. Radials don't do well with static balancing. Can't help with the rest, but you should check in your nearest large city to see if there is a tire recycler. They turn them into asphalt.
Old 09-18-2003, 07:34 PM
Booker57 Booker57 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Finger Lakes area of NY
Posts: 1,602
Pay the money. I have done this (mount and dismount tires) to much in my life. A good Coates tire machine makes the job so much easyer. An air compresser is needed to seat the beads onto the rim. A high volume, high pressure unit. Start at around 4-6 CFM @ 90 psi.

Yes you can, but ask this, should I?
Old 09-18-2003, 07:34 PM
enipla enipla is online now
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Colorado Rockies.
Posts: 11,882
One of the things I really hate is the ritual of going to a tire place and getting tires installed on my vehicle. I donít why, but I always feel like Iím paying way too much.
Funny, I hate getting my hair cut, and a friend does it, she even gives me a beer.
3. Disposal. Will a trash dump accept tires?
The dump In my county charges a dollar a tire. I think some may not accept them at all. Call them.

It's been a long time since I worked at a gas station and we did tires. We had the bubble type balancer. And the machine that would pull the tire off the rim and put it back on (air powered).

If you do it, use soapy water on the bead to get it to slide over the rim.

Another thing, we had a hose that you would wrap around the tire after it was on the rim. Inflate it with air and it would help seat the bead of the tire so you could inflate it. Then, we would pull out the valve stem, and hit it with LOTS of high pressure air to seat the bead. You pull out the valve stem so you can get LOTS of air in there fast (to help counter all the leakage at the bead).

Once the bead is seated, you can let it deflate, replace the valve stem and inflate.

In theory.
I don't live in the middle of nowhere, but I can see it from here.
Old 09-18-2003, 07:54 PM
t-keela t-keela is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Tejas
Posts: 3,436
I've changed out a lot of tires over the years with nothing but a set of tire tools and a hammer. So can you do it? Hell yeah you can do it. Have you ever done it before?

It's not as easy as it sounds. Sure after you've practiced and done a few dozen it'll be a piece of cake. But it's a pain in the ass to save a few bucks every couple of years. I think it'll take awhile to get your money back doing it yourself. You might want to re-check your prices. $20 & $35 sounds too cheap for GOOD tools. Then there's the compresser another couple of hundred bucks. Unless you already have one.

Vehicle specs often require spin balance to minimize front end wear. Don't even wanna guess how much $$$ for that.

If you decide to try...good luck.

BTW warranties are void for do it yourselfers.
Old 09-18-2003, 08:22 PM
Doomtrain Doomtrain is offline
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: "Oh, Sir Walter, Really!"
Posts: 6,497
I'd rank this as in the "Could, but why would you want to?" category. Unless you're going through like 800 tires a year or something.
"Sir, we'd like permission to search your pie."--Captain Stottlemeyer, Monk
Playing City of Heroes? Find the Dopers you know and love here. In one of life's great ironies, we play on Virtue.
GMRyujin is now known as Doomtrain. Now with 30% more doom. Doom! DOOM!
Old 09-18-2003, 09:44 PM
Turbo Dog Turbo Dog is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 1,616
When I was a teenager I held a job in the local general store and one of my jobs was tire changing/repair. We had a very old and cheap tire machine, all manual, which means that it was basically a tire holder with a lot of tire irons, and a bubble balancer. It was a bitch to change tires, even when I finally figured the contraption and tricks out, which was probably after about 50 tires. Balancing was a true trial of patience. A good tire shop can change and balance a couple dozen tires in the time it will take you to do one.

You can do it alright, but I prefer drinking coffee in the waiting room watching the game while somebody else does the work on modern equipment that does a much better job in far less time. It's worth spending a few extra bucks to me.
Old 09-19-2003, 12:10 AM
Green Bean Green Bean is offline
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: NJ, Exit #137
Posts: 11,919
Originally posted by t-keela
You might want to re-check your prices. $20 & $35 sounds too cheap for GOOD tools.
You said you saw the stuff in Harbor Freight? Have you ever ordered anything from them before? They do have some good stuff at great prices, but they also sell some really crappy stuff. If you know what you're doing, you can get good deals from them, but I wouldn't ever take the fact that they're willing to sell something as evidence that it's a quality item. I'm not saying that you shouldn't shop from them--we order from them occasionally--just caveat emptor)
Old 09-19-2003, 07:49 AM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Ohio
Posts: 10,527
Thanks for all the responses, especially Turbo Dogís. I can see now where it could take me all day to install the tires (it might be a bitch to get the tires on/off the rims, balancing will be an exercise in frustration, etc.) Guess Iíll be drinking coffee at the local tire placeÖ Thanks.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:23 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017