Storing off-season tires is something most people leave to the last second. As a result, they end up cramming their tires someplace inappropriate for their condition and long-term maintenance. This is even a bigger problem if you own multiple vehicles that need tire changes, if you own multiple tire sets or if you don’t have a proper storage space for them at home. And, no, a damp corner of your garage does not qualify as a good option.
Properly storing your seasonal car tires is something that should be taken seriously. Tires are expensive to replace and repair, so appropriate storage is important. Not only can it save you money, it can ensure that in the long run your tires will always be ready to roll.
How to prolong tire lifespan and avoid rotting
Cleaning your tires before storing them is essential. Use detergent, water and preferably a tire brush (or any type of stiff brush) to help remove road grime and brake. Make sure to dry them off before putting them away and avoid using dressing or gloss products. Most tires are made to resist environmental stressors, and using tire dressing will not prolong tire longevity, despite what the product tells you.
The only dressing a tire needs is an airtight plastic bag — yard bags or leaf bags work perfectly. Tire totes are generally considered a convenient way to carry and keep tires, but be aware that most totes are not, in fact, airtight. The ideal airtight environment will reduce evaporation from the rubber and will protect tires from gathering dust during the off-season. You should also store your tires in a cool, dry, moderately ventilated location to protect them from direct sunlight and UV rays. As for storing positions, you have three equally viable options: stand them upright (the preferred option, as it puts less pressure on the tire compounds), stack them on top of one another or hang them up.
Consider self storage, as opposed to garages, sheds and attics
While throwing your tires in a corner of your garage or garden shed may be tempting, this is not the best solution for their long-term quality maintenance. Since most garages, basements and attics undergo a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels, you should avoid these areas at all costs. These fluctuations can damage tires and impact their longevity. Instead, go the extra mile and consider a cool, dry place, preferably one that is climate controlled. For many people, renting a self storage unit for tires is a great solution. A climate-controlled unit is ideal, as it can keep both moisture and temperature steady. Renting a small 5’x10’ storage unit will give you room for your tires as well as a few extra things, such as tools or smaller automotive equipment.
At the same time, keep in mind that if you need to store a car for more than a couple months, you should remove the tires first in order to avoid flat spotting. If you’re looking to store your vehicle at home for a while, you should at least consider one of the many commercially available tire racks, which can be mounted on walls. Such tire racks are great storage solutions, as they distribute the weight of the tires across a wide area, ensuring they don’t lose their shape over a prolonged time span.
Long-term tire storage means special care
With consistent temperatures and humidity levels, tires can last for years in storage units. However, experts recommend replacing tires, regardless of the state of their tread, six years after their production date. Consequently, looking for signs of wear and tear when taking your tires out of storage is important, as is checking their date. Calling on the services of tire professionals who can competently identify dry rot and crazing is also a good idea. Any tires that have visible signs of wear, cracking or flat spotting can and should be recycled.
Keep in mind that proper storage ensures both your tires’ appearance and performance. This becomes even more important in the case of long-term storage, as keeping tires outdoors is not a viable option. To additionally maintain their condition, make sure you store them on surfaces free from grease, solvents, oils and any other substances that could affect and deteriorate the rubber over the long term. If your tires have whitewall or raised white lettering, you should store the tires so that the whitewall or lettering is facing each other. This “white-to-white and black-to-black” rule will help prevent staining.
While it is common for vehicles to be parked for a long period with their tires still on (though not recommended), you should at least make sure that the weight of the vehicle does not affect the tires. Either remove them or jack the car up to avoid irreversible damage. You can also place other, similar load bearing devices under the chassis of your car. As always, long-term storage requires special care. Moving your vehicle every two or three months is recommend. This rotates the tires and keeps the same deterioration from affecting only one part of them.
Tires age, yes. But we can assure you that by following our advice, you will extend their lifespan considerably. Moreover, these tips and tricks tend to extend to other automotive equipment. Don’t leave your tire storage concerns and duties to the last minute. Start looking for the ideal storage space for your tires and any other belongings now.