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Snowblower tires go flat

Not exactly automotive but related. Another thread about auto tires coming off aluminum rims, probably due to leakage, relates to a snowblower repair
I’m doing for a friend.

I noticed both tires on the snowblower were flat. One I was able to pump up, but when I squirted the rims with soapy water, I saw air leakage at both beads. The other tire I couldn’t even get the bead seated. I tried squirting carb cleaner in there and tossing a match to do the explosion thing in order to seat the bead, but it was too cold for the carb cleaner to vaporize fast enough.

Then I remembered I had a tube of silicone caulk lying around. I cleaned the beads up with carb cleaner, then gooped them up with silicone and inflated the tire. Sealed right up, and next day, no leaks. Did the same to the other tire. Hoping this will be a more or less permanent fix.

Please discuss and offer your own snowblower tips and tricks.

Next time you can try another trick- wrap a ratcheting tie down strap around the circumference of the tire and ratchet it down until the tire widens out enough for the beads to touch. Then just air it up. I’ve used that method for everything from 2 wheeled carts to lawn tractor tires. Works like a charm…

+1 for TwinTurbo’s recommendation.

If you don’t have a ratcheting tie down strap, that approach also works well using a rope and a bar and making a tourniquet around the circumference.

Yeah, I tried that rope & bar tourniquet trick too but couldn’t get it to work. The tires were just too beefy for the size rope I had.

I’ve read that some people use grease to seal the beads, but I didn’t have any grease handy.

I’ve never had trouble with snow blower tires, just wheel barrow and the lawn mower at teh cabin. Hope you don’t ever have to take it apart again. At any rate, use bead seal on the beads next time. Its about $10 for a lifetime supply. If that doesn’t do it, then just put tubes in for $5-10. If you still have a problem after that, put in a new valve core whether it looks like its leaking or not.

I’ll have to try that ratchet deal next time. I’ve had a heck of a time trying to expand small tires using a bungee or something. Why can’t you buy those inflatable tubes the shops used to use? I havn’t seen them anywhere?

Snow blower rims are not highly engineered or precisely manufactured. The beads’ seal is a crap shoot. That’s why I put tubes in mine. It works beautifully. You can get them at any hardware store, but you might have to wait for the proper season… fall.

I put tire slime in my 1972 Ariens snow blower and in my 1978 Cub Cadet riding mower and both are going strong on original tires. I put the tire slime in about 10 years ago because of leaks.

When I got the tubes for my snowblower about 10 years ago I couldn’t find tubes without slime already in them. I wouldn’t use that stuff in my car wheels, but on the snowblower I can live with it. I seriously doubt if I’ll ever have to remove the tires. And I got those pretty green valve caps…

I use the ratchet strap and rope methods to squeeze the tire back onto the bead. The rope method works best in smaller tires.

I did that on my snowblower wheels, but one of them still wouldn’t hold air for the whole season. I think I only paid $5 each for the tubes anyway, so it was no biggie.

You’d think that manufacturers could spring for an extra $10 and put tubes in their tires, and raise the price accordingly. We’re talking about $500 and up snowblowers. Whos’s going to notice $10 added to the pricetag? “Value engineering” is annoying when it saves trivial $$ at the cost of problems for the buyer. It cost me way more than $10 of my time to seal those darn beads.

The described difficulty is so common that I’m inclined to agree. The manufacturers could probably get the tubes for $1 each. I’m sure there must be a bulk rate.

Tube type tires are old technology, when was the last time you saw tube type tires on a new car. I remember them as less reliable than tubeless.

Yes, old technology on cars where tubeless works well.

But on small diameter tires such as snowblowers, wheelbarrows, etc, tubeless tires tend to leak quite frequently. I’ve owned and worked on many snowblowers and haven’t seen one yet that didn’t have a leak because the seal between the tire bead and rim was imperfect.

A couple of thoughts:

Manufacturers probably don’t see this as a problem. It occurs many, many years down the road - long after the warranty has expired. I’m sure they think that the tubeless tires work just fine. Besides, they probably buy from a place that supplies them as assemblies - and so long as no one is complaining within the warranty period, they don’t perceive this as a problem they need to solve.

In other words, it is not a dealbreaker for a sale.

And for those who put in tubes: There’s a technique to prevent the tube from buckling inside the tire. Use baby powder as a lube. Coat both the tube, the inside of the tire, and the inside of the the wheel. Also, nflate and deflate several times.

My big beef is with all these little tiny wheels on pressure washers and such,why in the heck arent they solid? you can use a “blow can” to seat a lot of small tires,have used silicon and tubes,never had any sucess with tourniquet,sometimes take the valve core out and introduce air directly from the tool chuck or fill with foam and never go flat again-Kevin

The tube in my big wheelbarrow bit the radish after a decade of use. Rotted around the stem. Went and bought replacement at box store. Pleased to see only around $5. Went flat after only 6 months, tube rotted out! Guess they’re not very good quality anymore?

Went looking for solid tire. Holy Moley batman, that was out of the question too expensive. Found pre-slimed tube for $15. Man that thing was heavy! Been going strong for 3 years now.

Since saw solid tires at HF for more reasonable price so next time…

When I got the tubes for my snowblower about 10 years ago I couldn't find tubes without slime already in them.

@MB - Ever hear of Mowtown in Hookset NH? They are a small shop, but the owner is very knowledgeable and can get you anything. I drive out of my way to deal with them - instead of Home-Depot or this local guy near me who just tries to rip everyone off.

Thanks Mike. I’m familiar with Mowtown, but at that time nobody had tubes without slime in the size I needed. It isn’t a big deal, as I doubt if I’ll ever have to remove the tires. They’ll outlast me. But a choice would have been nice to have.