How to store tires is probably not something you have given much thought to. After all, aren’t tires the toughest things on your vehicle? Don’t they take constant abuse on an almost daily basis without any complaint or problems?
Tires can certainly hold their own, but if you’re one of the millions of Americans who routinely swaps out winter rubber for summer rubber with the changing of the seasons, you can add significant life to the investment you’ve made with just a few simple storage tips.
Here’s how to store tires safely for the next season.
Dirt and grime aren’t just ugly — they often contain contaminants that your tire picked up from the road over the course of driving. This is especially true of winter tires, as they have to deal with the corrosive effects of salt and other de-icing agents sprayed over the asphalt. A thorough scrub with a tire and wheel cleaner and a brush prior to storage is your starting point when learning how to store tires properly.
Protect Them From the Sun
Have you ever seen a Winnebago with skirts over each of its four wheels and wondered “why?” The answer is deceptively simple: the UV rays of the sun (combined with all the heat that tires soak up because they’re black) breaks down rubber over time and can cause it to crack. This is called “dry rot,” and it’s a death sentence for your tires. If you have to store your tires outside, you should make sure it’s in an area that’s protected from the sun, or that your tires are wrapped up in plastic bags (which you can get from any tire retailer for free).
Stay Away From Sources of Ozone
A cool, dry basement is a great place to consider when trying to decide how to store tires. There’s just one catch: you should keep your rubber as far away from any electric motor as you can. The ozone that’s produced by a furnace, heater or even a sump pump interacts with the chemical bonds in a tire and can create the same dry rot as the sun’s UV rays.
Stacking Is OK
The best way to store tires long-term is to sit them upright on the tread, as that’s how they were designed to bear weight. On the rim or off doesn’t matter, really, but keep pressures up if you don’t dismount them. If you don’t have any room to keep your rubber upright, then stacking them on the sidewall is acceptable, as long as you don’t stack too high and don’t put anything heavy on top of the column.
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Photo courtesy of MorgueFile.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.