How to remove worn tires from rc car rims

If you are wondering how to remove those worn-out tires from your RC car rims without leaving lots of glue and rubber behind, read on…

Methods : Acetone | Veg Steamer | Oven | Boiling water

Having spent the last few years racing 1/10th buggies on a regular basis, I have ended up owning lots of used rims with worn tires. I have also found times where I wanted to remove good tires and glue them on other rims. The methods listed below will tell you how you can remove the tires and in some cases even save the tire and foam if required.

WARNING! Always get adult supervision when working with acetone, ovens, boiling water, steamers etc.

NOTES:

  • Some cheaper plastic rims may not be suitable for the heat methods.
  • This guide is focusing on rubber tires, not foam. (I haven’t tried foam tires).

Method 1 – Acetone (Best method)

acetone-bottleWhat you will need:

  • Acetone; at least 1 litre.
  • Empty metal paint tin (old one cleaned out is okay) ideally 2.5ltr or big enough for rims
  • Optional item: an old paintbrush
  • Rubber gloves / plastic disposable gloves to protect hands

Simply pour your acetone into the empty paint tin. Place the rims flat in the bottom so that they are fully submerged in the acetone. Put the lid back on the paint tin and ensure it is nicely sealed down; this will prevent any acetone from evaporating away.

You will need to leave the tires in this tin of acetone for 48 hours ideally; 24 hours will work, but the tires may still take a little effort to remove – 48 hours is much better. After this time, the acetone will have dissolved the glue, and the tires can be removed from the rims very easily.

Use a nice new tin ideally, not like the one I used with old paint stuck to the sides… You can purchase empty mixing tins on ebay very cheaply.

After removing the tyres, you may still see a little glue left on the rim in places. Just grab the paintbrush and brush a little acetone over this glue; having already been soaked, it should dissolve and clean off easily, leaving the rims like new again.

When done, always replace the paint tin lid so you can use the acetone many more times. When the acetone gets low you can top it up with new.

Acetone is by far the easiest method I have tried, and is highly recommended by racers at the RC clubs. There is the initial cost of the acetone, but it can be used again and again many times, so try to ensure any acetone trapped in the tyres/foams/rims goes back in the tin when you remove them.

Notes on the acetone method:

  • Inner Foams do swell up but wring them out and leave them to dry and they will go back to the normal size and can then be reused.
  • Some people cut away the tire and remove the foam so the acetone gets into the bead quicker. This may speed up the process a little, but in my opinion it’s better to just leave them for 48 hours.
  • Over time, as more and more glue is dissolved in the acetone, the acetone will change to a yellowish colour. It will still do its job. I have heard other racers say they use the same acetone all year.

Always take care when working with chemicals as they can be harmful if in contact with the skin and are also flammable.

Method 2 – food steamer pan (Very Good method)

What you will need:

  • Vegetable steamer pan with lid OR electric veg steamer unit
  • Water

This used to be my favourite method until I tried Acetone. It’s still very good, definitely better than the boiling method, and has the added benefit of not needing to spend on acetone (just minimal electricity cost). Tyres and foams can be reused if you wish. Basically, the intense heat makes the glue go brittle, allowing you to get the tires off.

Place the wheels in the vegetable steamer pan. The bottom pan should be filled with water, and heated to boiling point on the hob, the top pan with the rims placed inside. Place the lid on the top and steam the rims for about 45 minutes.

Once done, the tires should pull off the rims with a little bit of effort. If you are still struggling to get them off, the tires may need a bit more steaming!

Always take care with steam and hot water!

Method 3 – Bake RC rims in an oven (good method)

I have never tried this one but have been told it works well. You can bake rims in an oven at a medium heat for half hour and the tires should come off easily.

As with the boiling/steam methods, the heat breaks down the glue and makes it brittle, so with a little bit of effort, the tires come off.

This works with most typical buggy racing rims, but some cheaper plastic rims may be damaged, so try this at your own risk.

Also, be warned – the oven and your kitchen might smell of rubber a while after doing this – hence why I have never tried it myself!

Method 4 – Boiling water (Not ideal but will work)

Use this method if any of the others are not practical. It does work (just), but can still be a lot of effort and the rims will still have some brittle glue left on them. Sometimes the tire can take a lot of tugging or prising off too. 

Works better if you cut some of the tire away first, to allow the hot water to get to the glued bead.

Carefully place the wheels in a pan of boiling water on top of the oven. You’ll need to leave them fully submerged for at least 30 minutes.

This method makes the glue brittle, so when you pull at the tires, they come off easier without leaving too much rubber and glue behind.

Any rubber left behind should prise off with a small flat screwdriver, and the brittle glue should come off as well.

Be aware that some of the cheaper or old rims can warp or crack, so this method isn’t suited to every wheel. Warning! Let the water cool before handling the rims!

Conclusion

Whatever method you use, always take care with boiling water, ovens and acetone.

Notes

I use the word Tyre (UK) and Tire(US) because both are used in the searches. 🙂