HARBOR FREIGHT MANUAL TIRE CHANGER

— Testing a low-cost way to install your new tires —

By the staff of Dirt Wheels

Just lever the tire up and use the center pole to rotate the tire bar around. We did this one dry, but a lubed bead is easier.

We obviously change more tires than the average guy with an ATV or UTV. Many owners do find themselves needing to change tires, and it isn’t like you can drive your machine to the tire store, or at least not where we live. That means taking the wheels off, driving to a tire shop or ATV/UTV dealer, then paying to have the tires changed. Instead, we decided to try Harbor Freight Tools’ Manual Tire Changer.

This Manual Tire Changer is plenty sturdy, and it works surprisingly well for ATV, UTV and car tires.

FEATURES

Our latest ad flyer from Harbor Freight says their tire changer is about $43, but we paid about $50 when we got ours. You get a stand post, short bolt-on feet, a star-looking ring and a screw-on pipe to hold everything down. A long, bar-type tire tool is also included.

The directions say you should mount the stand to a pallet or a concrete floor. The “feet” look like they would take a 2×4, but we chose to weld up a 2×2-inch square-tube X as a base.

The only real hard parts to changing ATV/UTV tires ares breaking the beads and then inflating the tires and seating the beads. The tire changer includes a bead breaker. It isn’t great with sideloads, so make sure you are pushing straight down and it works fine. The outside beads are usually pretty easy, but the inside bead has a longer flat area to slide across, so work your way around the tire, and it will break easy enough.

After breaking the bead, put the wheel on the stand with the valve stem side up. There is a little movable pin that must go through one lug hole. Clamp the wheel down to get started.

You use the tire bar as the handle for the bead breaker. You must be sure you are pushing straight down and not at an angle.

TIPS AND HINTS

If you are fussy about the finish on your rims, you can use motorcycle tire irons. The long tire bar that comes with it works super fast. Lift one side of the bead and push down on the opposite side. Use the center post as a lever and pull the bar around. Then do the same with the second bead.

Install is even easier; a lubed tire will let you just push the first bead on by hand in most cases. Then use the supplied bar or tire tools to install the second bead. It is fast and easy with two people, but absolutely possible for a single person.

The included tire bar is painted red, so it does leave red marks on some rims. If you stripped the paint on the bar, it wouldn’t do that. With some care and adaptation, you could change tires without marking the rims at all.

The red-painted tire bar can mark up some rims. Polishing the paint off the bar end would fix most of this problem.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This tool takes up a little room, but it works great! We can change tires just about as fast as we can remove the wheels from the machine. The only wheels it may not do are ATV fronts with the large, open wheel center. Order one online if you don’t have a nearby store at www.harborfreight.com or call (800) 423-2567.

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