5 steps to storing your tyres
You might be well informed about how to maintain your tyres and extend their life when they are in use and on your vehicle. But many people overlook a critical part of tyre maintenance: proper storage when they are off your vehicle. Tyres are constantly ageing, even when not rolling down the road, so follow these six steps to make sure that you’re maximising your tyres’ lifespan and your safety.
Remove tyres and maintain recommended air pressureYou might remove your tyres yourself or hire professionals to do the job. For more on the DIY approach, read the article on how to change a tyre.
Either way, make sure that you note down the position of each tyre on your vehicle so you can rotate them when you put them back on after storage. If storing your tyres on their rims, keep the recommended pressure as specified by your car manufacturer. This air pressure can be found in your operator’s manual or on the driver’s side door jamb.
Clean your tyresAfter removing your wheel-tyre units from your vehicle, you’ll want to clean them thoroughly to remove any dirt or other substances, which could make them deteriorate more quickly. All you need is soapy water and a brush or cloth. Make sure that you rinse them thoroughly after washing. Avoid using petroleum-based cleaners like gasoline, oil or solvents, which could react with the tyre’s rubber compounds and cause them to break down.
Store your tyres in individual bagsAfter cleaning your tyres, you’ll want to store them in separate bags. This will keep them from oxidising, seal them off from detrimental environmental factors such as ozone and prevent oils from evaporating out of the rubber, which can cause tyres to dry out and crack. Large, black bin liners will do the trick—the most important thing is that they are opaque to keep light from deteriorating the tyres and tough enough to avoid getting tears that would break their seal. It is a good idea at this point to mark where each tyre was on your vehicle on the outside of each bag so you can rotate them later.
Before bagging each tyre, make sure that it is completely dry after washing, so no vapour gets trapped inside the bag. You’ll also want to remove as much air as possible from each bag. Use a vacuum cleaner if you need to and seal the bags off with tape.
Place the tyres in a cool, dry locationUV rays are an enemy of tyres, so it is critical to store them in a place that doesn’t receive sunlight. Tyres also suffer decay when exposed to major temperature fluctuations, excessive heat or changes in humidity. Because of these factors, the best place for storage is indoors in an environment with stable temperature and humidity levels. For those who have one, a basement is the most logical choice. Sheds, lofts and garages are less ideal because swings in environmental conditions tend to be much more pronounced in those spots.
When choosing the storage location, check to make sure that tyres are stored far from heat sources. It’s also important to protect tyres from detrimental airborne chemicals, like solvents, fuel or lubricants. Since the tyre ageing processes is essentially one of oxidation, it is key to avoid places with ozone in the air, which greatly accelerates ageing. Electric motors generate ozone, so don’t store tyres near furnaces, compressors, sump pumps, central vacuum systems or other sources of ozone.
Storage positionThe best position for storing your tyres depends on whether they’ll be stored on or off the rims. If on the rims, the two options are hanging from hooks through the rims, which is preferrable, or laying them flat and stacking them horizontally. If you choose the second option, it is best to use rim spacers to keep all the weight from resting on the sidewalls. Do not store inflated tyres vertically, because the weight of the rims on a single point of contact with the ground over an extended period of time can stress that part of the tyre.
The best way to store tyres that have been unmounted is vertically, side by side. Do not stack them vertically (sidewall-to-sidewall), as the weight of the tyres themselves can cause them to deform. You can also buy a tyre rack and use them to store your tyres. Whichever option you choose, it’s important to elevate the tyre off of the floor or ground surface using wood or another material. This insulates them from temperature changes and keeps them from getting dirty or being exposed to moisture.
What if I’m not able to remove my tyres from the vehicle?If you’re storing your vehicle itself, and your tyres along with it, first see if you can find a way to put the vehicle up on blocks so it’s not resting on your tyres for an extended period of time. Barring this option, make sure that you remove as much weight as possible from the vehicle before storage.
Don’t let a vehicle sit on tyres for extended periods of time, which can cause flat-spotting, where the normal deformity of the tyre in contact with the ground stiffens. The deflection bulge of a tyre can also develop ozone cracking if immobile for a long time.
To avoid this decay, move tyres regularly. You can also increase your tyres’ inflation pressure (without exceeding the maximum pressure marked on the sidewall) to minimise deformation. Just make sure that you deflate your tyres back to their recommended pressure before using them.
Lastly, protect your tyres from the elements (temperature swings, sunlight, moisture) as much as possible, either by storing the vehicle indoors or using tyre covers.