Storing tires can be a frustrating task 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. If you’re clueless of where to start, you’re not alone. Many of our storage customers don’t know how to store tires and come to use for advice.
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 keep tires in garages that are 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.
These tire storage tips will show you how to prevent dry rot and keep tires in excellent condition.
1. Clean and dry tires thoroughly before storage.
It’s important to remove any traces of asphalt, dirt, and brake dust from the tires before storing. However, not all soap and methods of cleaning are created equal. Products specifically marketed for cleaning tires might not be appropriate in this case. Check the label. Avoid cleaning products with petroleum and all tire dressings. These products can be corrosive if your tires will be out of service for a few months or more.
To clean tires:
- Mix mild dish soap and lukewarm water in a bucket.
- Use a tire brush to scrub away any grime.
- Avoid abrasive tire cleaners that can speed up the breakdown of the rubber
- Avoid using a tire gloss or dressing prior to storing tires.
- Make sure the tires are dried completely 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. Direct sunlight can heat the rubber and cause premature deterioration. The UV rays penetrate the rubber, dry it out, and eventually breakdown the rubber compounds. 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. Make 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 tires covers if you are keeping the tires on a car.
3. Store tires in a cool, dry environment.
Find a cool and dry environment to keep your tires. You want to locate a place where the temperature and humidity remain consistent throughout the duration. 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 it’s also not good to keep tires in freezing temperatures.
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.
- Avoid storing tires in a garage if you can help it. Sunlight and weather exposure can damage tires over a long period of time.
4. Keep each tire in an airtight plastic bag.
Aside from sunlight, the next leading tire deteriorator is oxygen. Some things in storage require airflow to breathe and stay in good condition. Tires, on the other hand, do better when they are vacuum sealed in plastic. An airtight space prevents oxygen from reaching the tires, slows down 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. Store them vertically or horizontally.
Once you have a storage location, it’s important to store tires correctly. 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 horizontally due to space constraints. If possible, consider the following suggestions for how to store tires.
How to stack tires:
- Tires on rims can be hung on tire hooks or stacked vertically.
- Unmounted tires can be stored in an upright position or stacked one on top of another.
- Never hang unmounted tires on tire hooks. The hooks can cause the tires to sag.
- Keep tires off the ground either on a pallet or shelf.
- Rotate the tire’s position every month to prevent deformities.
6. Remove tires from vehicles that you’re storing for a long time.
If you are storing a car for more than a couple months, consider removing the tires from the car completely. Leaving the tires on the car can cause flat spotting. If you can’t remove the tires, at the very least be sure to 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.
7. Professionally inspect the tires before remounting them on a vehicle.
Tires can last for several years in storage if they are 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 in other ways when the rubber compound breaks down.
To give you another perspective, it’s like the difference between a brand new rubber band and one that’s been sitting in your desk for years. 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 what dry rot or crazing looks like, have a tire professional give your tires a once over.
After tire storage:
- Check the tire’s sidewall for a US Department of Transportation Number that will help you determine the age of the tire.
- Have the tires professionally inspected for signs of its age.
- Recycle tires with any visible signs of dry rotting, cracking or flat spotting.
We hope this tire storage guide taught you how to store tires with care. Make sure you keep yourself safe by following all the manufacturer recommendations and have your tires serviced at appropriate intervals.