Beadlock wheels are nice and useful for frequent off-roaders, it’s true. Do you need them otherwise? Here’s the answer!
If you do a lot of off-roading, beadlocks can come in handy. However, if you do not go off-roading often, they become less and less necessary. Considering the amount of maintenance required will help you decide if beadlocks are right for you.
Still not sure if beadlock wheels are for you? Keep reading to learn a few tips.
Beadlocks and What They Do
A Beadlock (or bead lock) is a mechanical device that secures the wheel and tire together. When the tire is inflated the pressure pushes the bead against the inside of the rim, ensuring that the two remain connected and rotate together. Beadlocks allow you to drive with your tires at lower air pressure without the tires completely falling off the wheels. It gives support to your vehicle, especially when driving on rough terrain.
Beadlocks are generally used for off-roaders. If you go off-road at all you will know that most people air down their tires for off-roading. Why? Flexible, gummy-like tires will glide more easily over sharp rocks and mounds than tightly filled tires which are more prone to popping. However, when your tires are not filled up, you run the risk of losing one or two. This is why Beadlocks are often a good idea. They keep additional air from leaking out, and they also keep your tire securely fastened. If you have Beadlocks, flat tires will not usually be a problem for you. They will keep your tire from falling off, getting you safely to a place where the problem can be resolved.
Now you might be asking whether you need Beadlock wheels if you do not go off-roading much, or at all. There really is no reason to air your tires down if the majority of your driving is done on a paved road. Certain Beadlock tires do not have DOT approval and are therefore illegal in certain places. Additionally, Beadlock tires can cost anywhere from $332 to $1,229. If they aren’t going to be getting much use on average, there probably isn’t much of a point in purchasing them. The most basic rule of purchasing is making sure you get the biggest bang for your buck, and if you’re not getting that, you’ll probably end up spending money you regret.
Pros and Cons
There is really no right answer on the subject of Beadlock tires. For some people, it is worth it, and for some, it is not. Here are a few pros and cons of installing Beadlock tires.
PROS: They keep your tires from being damaged. As said before, it is necessary to air your tires down when you are driving rough terrain, though this poses the risk of you losing a tire or two because they will not be secured well to your vehicle. Beadlocks not only keep tires attached to the vehicle, but they also give a lot of support to your wheels. They prevent too much air from leaking out of the tires (if that happened you would be in serious trouble), and if you get a flat tire, Beadlocks will allow you to keep going. An additional perk is the look Beadlock wheels give your car. They can clearly be seen from the outside of the vehicle and do tend to give your wheels a spiffy, new look (that is, if you bathe your car after every off-roading trip).
Beadlocks are also easy to swap and install. Here is a short step-by-step process for installing tires onto Beadlock-equipped wheels.
Step 1: Remove the ring from the wheel. Once that is done, make sure to clean the bolt holes out. Debris that might be lodged inside those holes could prevent the rim from aligning properly.
Step 2: Push your tire into the wheel with the Beadlock side facing outward. If you are having trouble getting the rim and tire to push into each other, you could use silicone spray or soapy water to make it easier to slide them together. DO NOT use grease. Grease will not dry up like water or the spray and could make the inner bead slip off while in use.
Step 3: Next, position the tire bead adjacent to the welded mounting surface (the tire should be over the wheel).
Step 4: Lubricate the Beadlock bolts with a lubricant or anti-seize. Failure to do so could result in galling threads. You will then need to install all the bolts by hand, finger tightening them all the way around the Beadlock. Ensure that the tire is staying tightly around the wheel throughout this process.
Step 5: In a crisscross pattern, you can lightly tighten each bolt. You should be able to use the same amount of force to tighten every bolt. If one does not tighten the same way, you will need to reinstall it. Either it has cross-threaded or moved inward sometime during the first installation process. For optimal performance, all the bolts need to be tightened the same (whatever you do, don’t use an impact wrench for tightening as it could either overtighten or under-tighten your bolts).
Step 6: Once all the bolts have been hand tightened carefully inspect the bead all the way around the wheel. Every bolt must be level and tightened the same to ensure your tires will not become damaged during use.
Step 7: Once again in a crisscross pattern, use a torque wrench to tighten each of the bolts. For a more detailed process by an off-road professional, see the video below.
A couple more perks include added strength to the tire’s circumference, ease of mounting at home, and superior tire retention. If you get it done right, you probably won’t regret installing Beadlock tires.
Unfortunately, Beadlock tires are not all fun and games. Here are a couple downsides you ought to be aware of.
CONS: When you install Beadlock wheels your car becomes much heavier. Many people believe that heavy tires give your car more traction. The truth is, heavier tires make it harder for you to control your vehicle. Overall, your car handles much better when you have lighter tires and rims. Beadlocks greatly increase the weight of your tires and are therefore not advisable.
The next thing to consider is the price of Beadlock tires. It can be pretty pricey to change out normal tires every once in a while, let alone paying for Beadlock tires. It is true, they are not terribly difficult to install, but they can cost you anywhere from $330 all the way up to $1,229. Obviously, you do not want to go cheap for Beadlocks (because who can guarantee if they are good enough for your needs?) but you also do not want to go bankrupt over them either. You will have to make a lot of money or else spend some time saving up to be fully financially responsible for Beadlock tires, and that’s just buying them, not including all the maintenance that might come with it. The bottom line is, you have to adequately prepare for the process before jumping in with both feet.
Maintenance can also be a bear. While you still have to do plenty of it even without Beadlock rims, they add additional maintenance for you to worry about. It is sometimes necessary to service your vehicle after all your major off-road trips and that will definitely cost you more.
Additionally, you might want to consider the fact that not all Beadlock tires are DOT approved and are not, therefore, all street legal. Not only can it possibly cause more damage than not, but it could get you in legal trouble. Beadlocks were really designed for rough terrain vehicles, not road driving. Since this is the case, they are not all acceptable for everyday driving. To make things more complicated, some Beadlock wheels are DOT approved and then some (which are not approved) are fake, so getting into a legal issue is not exactly straightforward because it can be difficult to tell the difference. If you would like to avoid the hassle altogether, it is probably wise to abandon all thoughts of getting Beadlock tires installed.
Like normal tires, Beadlock tires will require a certain amount of maintenance. You might be tempted to skip this step, but if you have loose bolts inside your tires, you run the risk of damaging them and jacking up the price of whatever you need to get fixed. Driving Line recommends having your tires serviced and rotated after every major off-roading trip. NOTE: Before installing Beadlocks for the first time, check the warranty with your servicer/provider. If the warranty is good you will probably be able to cover a few trips to the tire shop with it.
You will need to check for air leaks, issues with balance, bolts that need tightening, dirty rims, and other issues. Keep in mind though, pretty much all of these things can be done on your own without having to spend a pretty penny on it at the shop. As long as you have done your research and been prepared for the responsibility, you should be fine!