20. April 2012, 17:10 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

A friend asked me if I had ever heard of inflating a tire with gasoline. Well the answer is yes. But it isn't a wise thing to do.

It is common practice when traveling off-road to reduce tire pressure to provide increased traction. It also increases the possibly of sudden and complete deflation due to popping the tire bead away from the wheel rim. Reseating the bead is usually done in a shop on a machine designed for the purpose.

There is a way, however, that in the event of an emergency the tire bead can be reseated and re-inflated. It is rather dangerous and involves the explosive ignition of a combustible vapour.

While the following steps can be done with the wheel and tire mounted on the vehicle it is safer (if the word can be applied in any way to this procedure) if the wheel is dismounted and laid flat on the ground.

Bend the sidewall inward until the core of the wheel is visible. Spray a flammable substance such as starter fluid, lighter fluid, etc. into the inner air space. A certain volatility is good but using gasoline will make this much more dangerous than it already is. Do not use too much. This is one of those times when more is not better. Ignite the liquid while avoiding being hit by any possible blowback. If done right, the expanding gases from the ignition of the vapour will reseat the bead and re-inflate the tire. In this case the tire usually end up overinflated and the excess gases must be bled off. Care should be taken as they can be quite hot.

The tire can be remounted and driven on until it can be removed, inspected for damage and remounted properly on its wheel.


The above is a description of how you can re-inflate a tire in an emergency situation. It is very dangerous and the reader is not advised to follow the above steps. They are provided for informational purposes only.

Addendum: It was mentioned this is similar to an article that appeared in Car & Driver some months ago. Once mentioned I do recall reading it, which possibly influenced my writing of this article, as well as the question that prompted it. My apologies to the C&D folks for any similarity as they have a great magazine well worth subscribing to.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: emergency inflation,bead setting,off road



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