When checking for problems, car owners largely tend to focus on engines, brakes, batteries, and exhausts. However, the tires seem to be a bit of a neglected topic. To be precise, most car owners I know usually don’t check their tires unless they seem flat or damaged. However, taking care of tires is just as important as, if not more important than, checking any other part of the car; and yes, taking care of tires includes putting them away when we’re not using them.
I’ve personally focused on several different issues regarding tires. After all, people need to know when their tire is flat or how they can properly dispose of a tire that’s way past its prime. And although storing tires seems simple at first glance, I can assure you that it’s not. Hopefully, this article will help you store both your summer and your winter tires in a safe, proper manner.
Why Is Proper Storage Important?
Imagine just going through a harsh winter; the snow has melted, the roads seem fine, and you want to go for a drive around the block and run your errands. So, you take out the summer tires, but then you see cracks and flat spots on their surface. Obviously, you can’t drive with such tires, so you have to buy new ones.
To put it simply, proper storage will both save your tires from damage and save you a decent amount of money. Moreover, it will save you from driving with a damaged tire and crashing into something (or someone).
Where Should I Store the Tires?
Obviously, the best solution for both summer and winter tires is to store them indoors. For example, I have a garage and, when I don’t need my winter tires, I stack them up and put them in a corner. Naturally, my garage has a steady, cool temperature and there’s no moisture.
However, some people only have the option of keeping their tires outdoors. With that in mind, here are a few pieces of advice that I found useful back when I didn’t have a garage to store my tires in:
- Keep the tires off the ground
- Cover the tires with opaque, waterproof bags
- Make sure that the bags have an opening to prevent the accumulation of moisture
- Do not place the tires near or onto a reflective surface, such as sand
- Do not place the tires near or onto a surface that absorbs heat, such as black asphalt
Should I Remove the Tires From My Car?
The short answer is yes, you absolutely should. When you remove the tires from your car, you can store them in a way that will keep them safe from damage. Moreover, if they stay on your car, the vehicle’s weight can cause flat spotting.
Sometimes, you can’t avoid keeping the tires on the car. However, even if that happens, you can still find ways to avoid damage.
Handling the Weight
The car’s weight is possibly the biggest problem when it comes to this topic. If you want to avoid flat spots, make sure to alleviate some of the weight. You can do that by placing jack-stands or similar devices under the chassis of the car and keeping it lifted up. Additionally, remove all the extra weight from the car itself, making it lighter.
Keeping the Tires “Fit”
Once we store a car for long periods of time, the extra weight will cause one part of the tire to deflate more quickly than others. Because of that, you should try giving your car a drive every few months. The driving will redistribute the weight, but it will also minimize cracking caused by the weather.
During storage, inflate the tires to the maximum recommended amount for your vehicle. Do that with every tire, including the spare ones. However, once you plan on driving the car again, readjust the amount back to the recommended normal state.
Preparing to Store — List of Steps on How to Put Away Tires
1. Clean the Tires First
After driving for so long, grime and dirt will accumulate on the tire. They can cause various problems if you don’t treat them as quickly as possible. Therefore, I suggest cleaning and drying the tires first before moving them to storage.
Naturally, you’d probably want to look for a good tire cleaning product, right? Something that can help you get rid of that asphalt and dirt debris?
As odd as this might sound, the answer is a resounding No. In fact, such products might damage the tires while they’re in storage. They tend to contain petroleum, which can be extremely corrosive.
With that in mind, here are some of the most useful tips I found on cleaning the tires before storage:
- Use a mix of regular dish soap and lukewarm water
- Slowly scrub away all grime with a tire brush
- Do not use abrasive tire cleaners, as they eat away at the rubber slowly
- Never use tire gloss on tires you plan to store
- Check if the tires are completely dry, but whatever you do, avoid drying them in direct sunlight
2. Avoid the Sun
As I mentioned above, never dry tires in direct sunlight, or even store them anywhere exposed to the sun. If you have to keep the tires outside, make sure to cover them with opaque bags that repel sunlight. Alternatively, when storing them inside, place them far away from any doors and windows. Finally, if you can’t remove the tires from your car, buy a set of tire covers and use them.
3. Location Is Key
I keep my own tires in a garage, but that’s because my garage has built-in climate control systems. If you can, I suggest you store them either in a basement or special climate-controlled storage unit.
4. Different Ways of Stacking Tires
Some people remove the tires with the rims still attached. If you do that, make sure to stack them on their side or place them on hanging hooks. However, there are people out there who just remove the tires themselves. You shouldn’t stack or hang those tires, so the best option you have left is to place them upright, next to each other.
Of course, you can always purchase a nice wall rack for tires; the best part about them is that you can place both rimmed and rimless tires there with zero issues. One device I found particularly interesting, however, is not a rack or a hook, but a small round platform on wheels. It’s small, compact, inexpensive, and most of all, you can move it anywhere.
5. Keep Tires in Plastic Opaque Bags
If you keep the tires outside, you can use bags with holes in them to prevent moisture from forming. However, when indoors, a vacuum bag per tire might be a better solution. Oxygen can cause cracking in tires if they’re left exposed. On the other hand, a special vacuum bag might slow down oxidation and prevent the oil from evaporating, thus leaving the tires dry and easy to crack.
6. Avoid Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals
Ozone and petroleum are possibly the worst enemies to a stored tire. Therefore, you need to avoid storing your tires anywhere near them. Below, I’ve compiled a list of devices and gadgets that generate significant levels of ozone:
- Central vacuum cleaners
- Sump pumps
In addition, I suggest avoiding storing tires next to any lubricants, fuels, or solvents. Their vapors can, over time, cause the tires to crack or peel.
Storing Tires, In Closing
As you can see, a properly stored tire requires a lot of work. However, once you do it right, you won’t have to worry about any damage. All you need to do is to inspect the tires before you decide to reattach them to the car and you’re good to go.
Did you find any of these steps useful? If not, let us know what we might have missed by posting a comment below.