The 6 Best Bead Seating Tools
This wiki has been updated 12 times since it was first published in October of 2018. Great for the mechanically-inclined car enthusiast and enterprising mechanic alike, bead seating tools combine portable air tanks with quick-release valves to deliver a calculated injection of pressurized air to an unseated tire. When done properly, the rapid inflation is enough to properly mount the rubber on its rim. Our selection includes some of the best on the market. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 04, 2019:
Whether your garage is a full-scale commercial operation or a two-car parking spot and workspace in your suburban home, a good bead seating tool can make a great addition to your shop. For entrepreneurial mechanics who are just starting to build their businesses, a bead seater can be thought of as an inexpensive alternative to (one of the tasks accomplished by) an expensive tire changing machine. More-established tradespeople, who’ve already invested in such a machine, might still find a bead seater to be a welcome addition to their shop – given their relative inexpensiveness and the convenience afforded by their portability.
For the mechanically-inclined do-it-yourselfer, a bead seating tool can give you means to mount new tires on your existing rims. For those of us living in climates that compel us to switch back and forth between winter and summer tires, over time, this can be quite the money saver. Off-road enthusiasts, who often prefer riding through rugged terrain with lower tire pressure, are especially prone to having a bead break on them, and might benefit from packing one of these items in their backseat. Just remember: you will require an air compressor to prime and operate this tool.
Some notes pertaining to safety and bead seating:
As you move through your buyer’s journey, shopping for one of these products, there’s a good chance you might come across an alternative bead-seating tactic: the combustion of ether, gasoline or other flammable liquids to seat a bead. While bead seating tools administer a pneumatic injection of air into tires to help pop the rubber onto its rim, viral videos over recent years have popularized the ignition of flammable fluids as a reasonable alternative to this practice – in essence causing a small explosion within the tire to encourage it to pop onto its rim properly.
We cannot stress enough: serious injury or even death can occur when you’re dealing with dangerous materials like this. While some of the videos documenting this practice might look safe enough, and even fun, when you play with fire, quite literally… well, I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this point. A bead seater is a one-time purchase that can last you years, while allowing you to accomplish this task safely. Make the investment.
That being said, like any tool, your new bead seater will still require some basic safe work practices. When operating this tool, be cognisant of the fact that you’re releasing quite a lot of air in a matter of milliseconds, and expect some kickback. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t be expecting to get knocked over, but brace yourself. If you’re going to use a lubricant to help make the process a little easier, stick to vegetable oil or a specialized product, avoid gasoline and other flammable liquids (see former paragraph).
Some notes pertaining to shopping for bead seaters:
For the most part, products in this category seem to come with either five-gallon or 10-gallon air tanks (the exception being the ‘bazooka-style’ items out there that function with a smaller reservoir). While most of these offerings are rated to tackle most common tires, if you’re working with heavier equipment (and thereby bigger tires) you might require a 10-gallon offering. Most these products include comprehensive lists of recommended pressures for filling the various tires they can handle, so sussing out which units can handle your needs shouldn’t be too difficult.
Whenever you’re dealing with pressurized gas tanks, the potential for leaks to emerge over time is a concern. The nature of these tools doesn’t require them to maintain pressure for a sustained period, making a certain amount of leakage viable, but any amount of leakage isn’t desirable, and so the lack of warranties offered in this category is a bit disconcerting. A couple notable exceptions to this rule are TSI – who offer a one-year warranty on all their Cheetah products (widely recognized as being the best on the market), and Gaither Tool Co. – who offer an impressive three-year warranty on their Bead Bazooka Tommy Gun.