17. What is a pinch?
Installation of any tube requires the proper knowledge, tools, skills, experience, and preparation of the tire to accept the tube. We realize many of you want to repair your own tires and that is fine so long as you understand you can puncture or ruin the tube if something goes wrong. There is no warranty for tubes punctured or damaged from installer errors such as prybar pinches, punctures from missed thorns etc. embedded in the tire, stems ripped or pulled loose from installing the tube with the stem offset the wrong way, etc. There are NO RETURNS on tubes that have been installed and NO REFUNDS if you damage the tube installing therefore we recommend having a professional tire shop experienced in working with tubes install it for you.
All tubes, regardless of what they are for, cover a range of tire sizes. Tubes do not just fit one tire size. A tube is merely an air bladder that stretches and fills the tire. Many tire sizes will have the same or very near same void inside the tire for the tube to fill. The rubber of the tube is engineered with a range of safe stretch, thus each tube will fit several sizes in that range of stretch.
New tubes that have never been installed will always be smaller than the tire they go in. They will also be smaller when compared to an old used tube that has been in service. Tubes start smaller than the tire they go in so they stretch and conform to the void inside the tire without wrinkles. If a tube wrinkles inside a tire it will form a crease and eventually split and fail in the fold of the crease. Once a tube has been installed and left in service the rubber relaxes, loses it's stretch, and the tube takes the tire's shape and size. When you remove a used tube after it has been in service, it will remain the same size as the tire it came out of as it has relaxed and lost it's stretch. That is why the new tube will appear smaller than the old tube, it has not been stretched and relaxed. That is also why you don't reuse and old tube when replacing tires. Tubes lose their stretch and if you put an old stretched out relaxed tube in a new tire it will wrinkle inside the tire, crease, and eventually fail.
Each manufacturer labels and packages tubes differently. Unfortunately with the exception of the universal tubes part numbering was never standardized on tubes. Each manufacturer labels them as they see fit. This can cause confusion on tubes that fit several sizes as most tubes will only be labeled with a few sizes or with numbering that is not easy to understand or interpret. If you look on each product page, we list out how the package will be labeled and identified and the COMPLETE fitments of each tube. Please check the information on the product page before contacting us.
Radial and bias actually has to do with the construction of the tire's cord body. The cords on a radial tire run straight across from bead to bead. On a bias tires the cords run on the bias, from bead to bead at an angle with each overlapping cord layer running the opposite angle. A radial tire has more flex thus the tube must be made out of a slightly different rubber compound to handle the extra flexing and resulting abrasion from scuffing inside the tire. A radial tire must always use a tube designated for radial use. Our product pages will indicate the type of tube. If it says for use in radial or bias tires it is a radial designated tube.
Yes. A radial tube can be used in either a radial or a bias tire. A bias tube however can only be used in a bias tire. Most tubes are being made only in radial versions as they can be used in either radial or bias tires. Several of our manufacturers have informed us they are making all tubes from radial compound only now and are slowly updating the packaging to reflect so.
There are two common sizes of stem holes found on wheels either .453" (approx 1/2") or .625" (approx 5/8"). The TR13 stem fits the 1/2" stem hole and the TR15 stem fits the 5/8" stem hole. A B6 bushing is a plastic bushing that slips over the TR13 tube valve stem and adapts it up to fit the larger stem hole the TR15 stem fits. Many tubes only come in TR13 stem versions now so you use the B6 bushing to adapt the TR13 valve stem to fit a wheel with the larger 5/8" stem hole. All the universal tubes come with TR13 stems and you use a B6 bushing if the wheel is drilled with the larger stem hole.
The stem type numbers are the industry standard designations for a particular type, angle, size, pressure rating, and shape of valve stem. See our valve stem type page for a complete explanation of each stem type.
Universal tubes are radial tubes with TR13 stems that can be used in a variety of applications such as car, pickups, trailer, farm. Each universal tube covers a specific range of tire sizes (see the universal tube fitment chart). Universal tubes follow standardized part numbers across the different manufacturers. They all have TR13 stems and with the use of the B6 rim hole bushing can be used on wheels drilled with either the small or large stem hole.
The short answer, if it is a tubeless tire and it runs down the highway: NO. A tube is not a safe or accepted repair for any highway use tubeless tire that has been damaged beyond normal tubeless repair procedures. Tubes will not fix cut or damaged sidewalls. The tire cord body must be sound and solid to install a tube. If the tire IS NOT used on the highway then there are some instances where installing a tube is a normal repair such as a lawn mower tires that are dry rotted and seeping through cracks in the sidewall. That's not a highway use or high speed tire so a tube is fine if the tire cord body is still sound. Consult a tire shop if you are unsure if installing a tube is a safe or proper repair for your tire.
Unfortunately tube manufacturing left this country back in 2004. The factories were closed and equipment sent overseas. We didn't like it but we had no say. The tubeless tire killed the demand for tubes and cheap overseas labor killed tube manufacturing in the U.S. Most tubes are made in China. South Korea manufacturers the highest quality tubes but they only make tubes for 8" and larger rim diameters. We sell South Korean made tubes in all sizes we can get them in. Major brands such as Carlisle and Firestone are made in China now. At the time of this writing, Firestone has one tube factory left in Arkansas but it only manufacturers larger high profit margin rear tractor tubes and mining tubes. All small Firestone tubes are made under contract by factories overseas, mostly in China.
"Heavy duty" is a misleading term used by some sellers to fool people into thinking they are selling something special or better than everyone else. We deal with all current tube manufacturers and none makes a different "heavy duty line" of tubes. There are a few sizes where one manufacturer may make a slightly thicker tube as compared to other brands and we will point that out in our descriptions. We sell the best quality tubes available from all the major manufacturers. In some popular sizes of rear tractor tubes they do make what are called "Severe Service" rear tractor tubes with the severe service being a thicker tube for abrasion resistance. Those will always be branded with "severe service" not with "heavy duty".
The valve stems on atv tubes are threaded due to the low pressure atv tires run. The washer and nuts are used to keep the tube stem from pulling back inside the wheel as the tire flexes. On the TR4 or TR6 atv stems BOTH nuts and the washer go on the OUTSIDE of the wheel. You remove the nuts and washer and place the stem through the stem hole of the wheel. The washer goes on first. It should be on the outside of the wheel with flat base against the wheel and coned side up. Next install the first nut and tighten it FINGER TIGHT only against the washer leaving the stem slightly loose against the wheel. DO NOT tighten the nut with a wrench or socket or you will smash and pull the metal stem base through the rubber. The stem should be left slightly loose , you don't want it very tight against the wheel. The second nut is used as a jamb nut to lock the first nut in place. You hold the first nut with needle nose pliers or thin wrench and then tighten the second nut against the first to lock it in place. When correctly assembled the stem should be left slightly loose in the stem hole of the wheel and free to move some.
When you install a tube in a tire and inflate it for the first time air can become trapped. As you inflate the tire the beads of the tire swell out and make contact with the wheel. Once the beads contact the wheel any air that is still between the tube and the inside liner of the tire becomes trapped. The only place it can then escape the wheel is around the base of the stem because (unlike a tubeless valve stem) the tube valve stem does not seal tight in the stem hole. Air must escape the wheel around the base of the protruding tube valve stem. Trapped air will eventually stop after several minutes and the tire pressure will stabilize. If the air does not stop and the tire goes down to zero pressure then something went wrong installing the tube. The tube got pinched or punctured while installing it. Before tearing the tire back apart to investigate make sure to give it plenty of time, trapped air can seep for 30 minutes or more but will eventually stop and pressure will NOT go all the way down to zero.
If the stem pulls off the tube it means there was excessive pressure on the stem. The number one reason we see it happen is the tube was installed flipped over with stem offset wrong. The valve stem on most tubes is offset to one side. When the tube comes completely sucked flat it can be difficult to tell which way it is offset. You have a 50-50 shot of getting it wrong if you don't take the time to inflate the tube first and mark the stem offset before installing it. If you install the tube flipped over with stem offset wrong the tube will roll up inside as you inflate it. It rolls and then bends the stem over and begins pulling on it. It will either rip the stem out of the tube or pull the round base of the valve stem loose where it is vulcanized to the tube. Something has to give. The TR13 stems will sometimes pull back inside the wheel as you inflate and you can realize the mistake before ruining the tube. The threaded stems such as TR4 or TR6 as well as the TR218 air/water stems have zero forgiveness if you install them with the stem offset wrong. They are bolted in the wheel and can't pull back inside, it will ruin the tube every time. There is no warranty for ripped stems or stem bases pulled loose, that is caused by an installer error not a manufacturing defect.
Tubes are leak tested when made. Just as new tires do not come with holes in them new tubes DO NOT come with holes in them either. When you install a tube and it won't hold pressure and the tire goes flat something went wrong installing it. When you disassemble it and find a hole in the tube, it's the result of either a pinch or a puncture while installing it or while inflating it the for the first time. The shape and location of hole on the tube will lend clues as to what went wrong. Tube companies will not warranty or replace tubes damaged while installing them. You patch it or buy another, correct the issue that caused it, or learn from the mistake and don't repeat it.
A pinch is when the tube gets smashed to the point it cuts through the tube rubber resulting in a hole in the tube. The most common type of pinch is a pry bar or tool pinch. That occurs when mounting the final bead of the tire on the wheel with tube inside. When prying the tire bead on the wheel, if you bring the prybar over too far, the deflated tube gets between the end of the prybar and the wheel and gets smashed and cut. Prybar pinches often times will be double inline holes like a snake bite if you pinch through both layers of the deflated tube. They typically will be located on the side of the tube you were prying the tire on. A tire machine can also pinch a tube. A wheel pinch occurs when the wheel damages the tube. On two piece wheels that unbolt and split in the middle, the deflated tube gets between the wheel halves and pinched when the halves are tightened together. The split ring of a split ring or multi piece wheel can also pinch a tube. A tire bead pinch is when the deflated tube gets trapped between the tire bead and the wheel as you inflate the tube the first time. The tire bead comes up over the folded tube and pinches it between the bead and wheel.
A puncture is when an object penetrates through the tube resulting in a hole. Punctures can be caused by numerous things: thorns, nails, rust particles from the wheel, etc. Before installing any tube you must fully remove the tire from the wheel, wipe it out, and inspect the tire for embedded objects. You vacuum out the tire and then completely wipe the inner liner with a rag. The rag will snag on thorns or embedded objects in the tire helping you to locate them. You then wipe it out with your bare hand to ensure nothing is embedded in or protruding through the tire that can puncture the tube. If you skip that step and just install the tube without checking and prepping the tire you are gambling with losing odds. The first time you air the tube up inside the tire it gets punctured. Over half the lawn &garden and atv tires we service have embedded thorns the owner was unaware of. On a tubeless tire the embedded object can seal the hole so long as it remains in the tire thus the owner is unaware it is even there. If you just install the tube it WILL make you aware it was there a soon as you inflate the tube!
The correct tube is determined by the tire size it is to be installed in, not the wheel width. In choosing tubes you always assume the tire is installed on the recommended and proper width wheel. You need to know the tire size to choose a tube.
Modern passenger car and pickup wheels with 17" and larger diameters are all tubeless. The tires are all tubeless, they never used tubes and installing a tube in those is not a safe or accepted practice; thus no tubes are made for those applications.
No. A tube can not be used or installed in any application with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Most of the TPMS pressure sensors attach to back of the tubeless valve stem. The tubeless stem has to be removed to use a tube thus a TPMS equipped application can not use a tube.