We’d want to think that putting items into storage is as easy as finding a space for them, but that’s unfortunately not the case. Whether you’re putting clothes away for future use, storing your precious vinyl collection, or setting aside the kids’ paddle boards for the season, there are certain steps to keep them all in mint condition. The same goes for a critical component of your car: the tires.
Learning how to store tires properly can be one of the most frustrating storage tasks due to their size and the extra steps needed to keep them in good shape. However, you might not have a choice if you have a set of winter tires for your car. Another reason to store tires properly? Replacing tires easily adds up—changing a single tire can cost anywhere between $50 and $200, depending on the size and quality.
How to Store Tires: Where to Get Started
If you’re not sure where to start, you’re not alone. Many of our storage customers have a lot of questions about tire storage, ranging from how to store tires with rims to how long tires last if not used. It’s not uncommon to see tires stored outside without so much as a cover, but it’s likely these tires aren’t used on a road vehicle. If they are, their safety has been compromised in a major way. People also naturally keep tires in garages, where they’re exposed to big shifts in temperature. This solution is also not ideal.
Tires will degrade eventually, but there are things we can do to delay the process. Tires are sensitive to weather, sun, temperature, and time. The best way to store tires is in a dry, cool environment that will slow down the aging process. Keeping a fresh set of tires in the right conditions could add years to their life. Proper tire storage can help prevent dry rot, extending the life of the tires and maintaining their performance.
Related: How to Store a Car in a Storage Unit
Should tires be stored vertically or horizontally?
When it comes to storing tires, whether you store them vertically or horizontally, all depends on if they’re mounted or unmounted. Here’s how to stack tires:
- How to store mounted tires: Tires on rims can be hung on tire hooks or stacked vertically.
- How to store unmounted tires: Unmounted tires should be stored upright, leaning next to one another horizontally. Never hang unmounted tires on tire hooks since that will cause the tires to sag.
What’s the best way to stack tires?
Stacking tires or hanging them can cause deformities if they aren’t moved around every so often. However, sometimes you might be forced to stack tires due to space constraints. If that happens, it’s important to do so properly to avoid damaging them. Stack them no more than four high, and keep tires off the ground on a pallet or shelf. You can also place a piece of wood between each tire to prevent the bottom tire from developing flat spots and rotate the tire’s position every month to prevent deformities.
How to keep tires from dry rotting in storage?
According to Goodyear, dry rot occurs when the rubber that makes up a tire begins to break down, leading to cracking. To prevent dry rotting in tires, they should be kept in a cool, dry location and away from heat sources, such as radiators or engines. Additionally, tires should be kept away from chemicals that can cause the rubber to break down, such as oils, solvents, and gasoline (so generally speaking, a garage is not the ideal storage spot for tires). Regularly inspecting and cleaning the tires can also help detect any signs of dry rotting and prevent it from getting worse.
How long do tires last in storage?
Per this study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency, carmakers generally recommend changing tires every six years, while tire manufacturers say to retire them 10 years after the manufacturing date. Keep this in mind before using tires that have been stored away for some time.
6 Tire Storage Tips So They Last Longer
1. Clean and dry tires thoroughly before storing
It’s important to remove any traces of asphalt, dirt, and brake dust from the tires before storing them. Not all cleaning methods are created equal. Be sure to check the label since some products specifically marketed for cleaning tires might not actually be right for the job. Avoid cleaning products with petroleum and all tire dressings or gloss since these products can be corrosive and speed up rubber breakdown if your tires are out of service for a few months or more.
How to clean tires:
- Mix mild dish soap and lukewarm water in a bucket.
- Use a tire brush to scrub away any grime.
- Make sure the tires are completely dried prior to storing but do not dry them in direct sunlight.
2. Keep the tires out of the sun
Some argue that UV rays are the biggest factor in tire aging since direct sunlight can heat the rubber, dry it out, and cause premature deterioration. The best way to keep tires from dry rotting is to limit sun exposure whenever possible.
How to keep tires out of sunlight:
- Cover outdoor tires with a thick, sun-protectant tarp, making sure light cannot pass through the fabric.
- Store tires indoors and away from windows or doors.
- Use tire storage bags designed to keep tires out of the sun.
- Purchase tire covers if you are keeping the tires on a car.
3. Store tires in a cool, dry environment
To find the perfect cool and dry environment to keep your tires, you want to locate a place where the temperature and humidity remain consistent. Dips or hikes in either of these can result in premature tire aging. Storing tires in a consistently warm environment is not good for the rubber, but keeping tires in freezing temperatures is also not good. Ironically, the place you keep your car is one of the worst places to store tires. Constant sunlight, weather exposure, and fluctuating temperatures—all things a garage is known for—damage tires over time.
Where to store tires:
- Consider a climate-controlled storage unit to maintain a consistent environment.
- A basement is a common choice, but keep tires away from furnaces, water tanks, sump pumps, and other ozone producers.
Related: The Benefits of Climate Controlled Storage
4. Keep each tire in an airtight plastic bag
Aside from sunlight, the next leading tire deteriorator is oxygen. While some things in storage require airflow to breathe and stay in good condition, tires, on the other hand, do better when sealed tight. An airtight space prevents oxygen from reaching the tires, slows the oxidation process, and prevents the oil from evaporating and drying out the tires. Remember to wrap each tire individually for the best results.
Tire storage options:
- Specialty tire storage bags
- Large black contractor garbage bags
- Vacuum sealable plastic
- Thick tarps that you can tie wrap tightly around the tire
5. Remove tires from vehicles that you’ve been storing for a long time
If you’re storing a car for more than a couple of months, consider removing the tires completely since leaving the tires on the vehicle can cause flat spotting. If you can’t remove the tires, at the very least, take the car for a ride every few months so that the tires get some use. Tires do best in service because movement keeps oil evenly distributed in the rubber, which helps prevent it from drying out.
6. Professionally inspect the tires before remounting them on a vehicle
Tires can last several years in storage if stored in the right conditions. However, many tire experts recommend replacing tires six years after their production date, regardless of the tread. Old tires can be compromised when the rubber compound breaks down. When you take your tires out of storage, make sure you look for signs of wear and check the date. If you are unfamiliar with dry rot, have a tire professional give your tires a once over.
After tire storage:
- Check the tire’s sidewall for a U.S. Department of Transportation Number that will help you determine its age.
- Have the tires professionally inspected for signs of aging.
- Recycle tires with any visible signs of dry rotting, cracking, or flat spotting.
Following these helpful storage tips should help extend the life of your tires. For long-term storage, it’s important to find the best environment, like a climate-controlled storage unit. Then once you’re ready to use them again, make sure you keep yourself safe by following all the manufacturer’s recommendations and have your tires serviced at appropriate intervals.
Do you have any tips for storing and caring for your tires? Share them with us on social media at @lifestorage. Or, if you have any friends looking for a thorough tire storage guide, send them this article!
This post originally appeared on the Life Storage Blog on 6/27/19 and was revised on 4/27/23 to provide new information.