Best Slide Hammer for Tires in 2022: Picking Top Tire Bead Breakers

When it comes to changing tires, actually breaking the beads is one of the hardest things to do. If you have a tire changing machine with a bead blaster, good for you! If you’re like the hundreds of millions of others that don’t own an auto shop or aren’t avid automobile enthusiasts, then you’re probably looking for a cheap but effective tool to get the job done.
As luck would have it, the best manual tool for breaking beads is a slide hammer.

These hammers don’t have the traditional double-sided hammer head but rather a curved shovel that pushes down on the tire’s wall to separate bead from rim. In today’s article, we’re going to see what sort of slide hammers our editors have deemed the best of the best, and we’ll also throw in a quick buying guide for good measure.

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Slide Hammer | Recommended

Our Pick No. 1
GEARWRENCH 10 Way Slide Hammer Puller Set - 41700D
GEARWRENCH 10 Way Slide Hammer Puller Set - 41700D
Jaws can be set up for 2 or 3 jaw internal or external pulling jobs; 5-1/2 lb slide hammer has a 5/8-18 thread

Last update on 2022-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Slide Hammer | Recommended

Last update on 2022-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5 best Slide Hammers for Tires
Honhill Slide Hammer Ram Bar
When it comes to breaking beads, only the most powerful slide hammers can do the trick. The Honhill Slide Hammer Ram Bar is such a hammer that is made of heavy-duty steel and measures in at 1-1/2 inches in diameter by 50 inches in length. When fully extended, the Honhill reaches a maximum length of 80 inches. This hammer consists of two components – the handle that you grip with one hand and the sliding shaft (ram bar) with a curved shovel for separating the bead from the rim. The handle has a slight brim at the bottom located near the shovel-end which, when using your foot, can provide enough leverage for breaking beads. The diameter of the brim, however, is far too small to get a good footing so the ram bar will have to do most of the work.

OTC 5727 Sliding Bead Breaker
Another awesome sliding bar is the 5737 by OTC. At first, it looks almost identical to the Honhill except for its black color, but the minute design differences actually mean a whole lot. The first thing worth noticing is the ram bar is inseparable from the handle which means no longer misplacing individual components (you’ll have to lose the entire tool instead). The shovel has a split-head design that makes contact with a wider area of the beads to save the rim from accidental denting and scraping. The foot loops found near the shovel are also a lot wider than the Honhill’s brim and offers more leverage when relocating or removing tires from their rims.

Ken-Tool 35924 Impact Bead Breaker
The Ken-Tool 35924 is another simple slide hammer without a removable ram bar, once again, eliminating the risk of misplacing individual components. The rubber handle of the ram bar provides a comfortable grip while sliding it up and down to loosen the bead. Although this is a great slide hammer, it’s not as heavy as we’d like, and thus, it’s not able to loosen beads as well as many other tools. For smaller, thinner tires such as those on certain motorcycles or bicycles, the Ken-Tool should be able to do the trick. For car tires, especially thicker ones, using this tool may pose more of a challenge than convenience. The good news is that you may get an upper-arm workout when using this slide hammer.

Esco 70150 Slide Hammer Bead Breaker
The Esco is a completely different story. The long handle (48 inches) paired with the heavy-duty sliding bar is able to loosen beads with just a bit of force. The wedged shovel fits easily between the tire and rim flange, and it’s able to do the job without leaving the slightest mark on your rims. The special design of the Esco’s handle and ram bar is made specifically to handle shocks and kickback which, if you’ve ever used a slid hammer, is a real safety hazard. For our older readers out there who need a fatigue-free slide hammer, look no further than the Esco 70150.

AME 71500 Big Buddy Slide Hammer
Last but not least is the AME 71500, another slide hammer that’s constructed with the sliding ram built into the handle so you’ll never misplace individual pieces. The amount of force needed to loosen beads depends entirely on the thickness of the tire’s walls, but in general, we found the AME is more than capable of breaking beads on large trucks and lawn tractors with minimal force. The sliding ram is kept within the tube handle with a slight brim located at the opposite end of the shovel. The only issue we have with the AME 71500 is the lack of a foot rest. The good thing is that the tiniest blow can loosen the tire bead almost effortlessly, but without a rest for your foot, you may not be keep the tool in place every blow.

Slide Hammer for Tires Buying Guide
Should I get a Slide Hammer?
If you feel comfortable hitting the open road with a comprehensive list of emergency tools on hand, then no, you don’t, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Using a slide hammer to loosen beads is only half the battle; if you replace the inner tube on your own, then the tool is nothing more than a space-taking paperweight. For our readers who are thinking of starting or who already own an auto shop, then a slide hammer is a must-have tool if you don’t have a tire changing machine with an onboard bead breaker and/or bead blaster.

How to use a Slide Hammer
Using a slide hammer is actually one of the simplest things in the world. First, while the ram bar is fully retracted, carefully place the shovel in between the tire bead and rim flange with the curved end of the shovel facing toward the center of the rim. Next, pull the ram bar upward while keeping the shovel in place. Push the ram bar downward with a bit of force once, twice, or until the bead has completely released from the rim. With each subsequent blow, you can try applying more force. Repeat this process on multiple spots along the perimeter of the rim until you can comfortably release one side of the tire bead completely from the rim.

Things to consider when shopping for a Slide Hammer
The length of the tool should tell you how far you need to bend your back to use the slide hammer. It also determines how much force can be applied by pulling and jamming the ram bar into the tire-flange connection. A longer slide hammer is ideal for thicker tires, but it’s also harder to store unless you drive a pickup truck. Shorter slide hammers don’t deliver nearly as much bead-breaking force as longer models.

When it comes to a slide hammer’s weight, a heavier tool is preferable over lighter ones. They will be a bit more difficult to move around, but since using a slide hammer doesn’t actually involve moving your body at awkward angles, a hammer on the heavier side would suit you just fine. Additionally, a heftier tool means more force to break beads with less effort, so you have the convenience of achieving better results with fewer strikes.

Shovel Shape
The benefit of using a split-head slide hammer such as the OTC is that it covers more area, thereby reducing the amount of work needed to release the tire bead along the rim’s perimeter. If you’re working with dozens of car tires daily, then the split-head design would help save precious minutes at the end of the day. However, if you need a tool for emergency situations only or don’t change tires regularly, then a single-head shovel is A-OK.

Even those who use slide hammers regularly may become bothered by calloused hands or torn skin while working the ram bar of a slide hammer. Some models come with rubber paddings or grip on the handle-end of the ram bar for more comfortable operations. Alternatively, you can use a makeshift handle by wrapping a thin piece of rubber around the handle and enjoy the same level of comfort.

Spring Shaft
The worst thing you could get is a slide hammer with a built-in spring shaft. The spring shaft prevents the ram bar from damaging the shovel and the shovel from damaging your tire by reducing the amount of force applied per blow. It also brings the ram bar back up for quicker repeated strikes if the first blow didn’t bread the bead. However, you also need to be careful of kickback which can cause the ram bar flying upward and poking you in the eye (definitely not a pretty thought).

1. Is the wedge/foot/shovel replaceable?
In the cases of the five best slide hammers, no, the wedge is nonremovable and cannot be replaced. Unfortunately, this means you’ll need to replace the entire tool in the event of a chipped shovel. The good news is that you hardly need to worry about wear and tear, even after several years of using these slide hammers. Unless the shovel repeatedly makes contact with your tire’s rim – in which case you have much bigger things to worry about than the slide hammer’s shovel – then the shovel should last a lifetime.

2. Can I use a slide hammer on low profile tires?
Yes, you can, although we must warn you that it is a much greater challenge. Loosening the bead of low profile tires requires more accuracy as well as a much gentler touch as to prevent scratching your rims or even accidentally tearing through the tire’s wall. If possible, you may want to stick to getting low profile tires professionally changed or invest in a tire changing machine. Either way, you’ll save yourself a ton of heartache by not accidentally marring your rims in the process.

3. The shovel is too thick to fit in between the bead and rim flange. What should I do?
This is a problem mainly for those with low profile tires, but it can happen to any tire out there. If the shovel is unable to fit comfortably between the tire bead and rim flange, your only option is to manually grind down the shovel to reduce its thickness. This, however, can ruin any warranty the manufacturer has guaranteed for their product, and you can accidentally pierce your tire and/or inner tube if the shovel has been grinded to a point.

A slide hammer can be the perfect tool to have during an emergency. If a tire has decided to pop in the middle of nowhere, you can use this handy tool to loosen the bead from the rim to begin the tire-changing process with your own two hands. Even commercial auto shops rely on slide hammers from time to time so anybody can benefit from having this tool on hand. Take a look at what we’ve decided are the top 5 best slide hammers for your vehicle, and check out the quick guide we’ve provided to get a better understanding of what to look for.

Slide Hammer | Recommended

Our Pick No. 1
GEARWRENCH 10 Way Slide Hammer Puller Set - 41700D
GEARWRENCH 10 Way Slide Hammer Puller Set - 41700D
Jaws can be set up for 2 or 3 jaw internal or external pulling jobs; 5-1/2 lb slide hammer has a 5/8-18 thread

Last update on 2022-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Slide Hammer | Recommended

Last update on 2022-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This website is supported by readers. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

We appreciate your feedback. Please add them below in the comment section.


Honhill Tire Bead Breaker Slide Hammer Ram Bar Impact for Car Truck Trailer

OTC Tools 5727 Sliding Bead Breaker

Ken-Tool 35924 Impact Bead Breaker

Esco 70150 Slide Hammer Tire Bead Breaker

AME 71500 ‘Big Buddy’ Tire Bead Breaker Slide Hammer


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