Proper storage of your tires is worthwhile, but not without it’s difficulties.
You may already be aware of “flat-spotting” and the harmful effect it can have on your tires. If that’s the case, you’ve probably already taken the time to do something about it. For those who don’t know, flat-spotting (flat spots on your tires) occurs when the weight of your vehicle is pressed down on the same section of tire for a prolonged period of time (as it does when your vehicle is in storage). Ultimately, given the right conditions, leaving your vehicle immobile will change the shape of your tire – from something circular, to something… much less so.
Tires that are no longer circular in shape can result in some pretty intense vibrations when you’re driving down the road; and while this may be uncomfortable and annoying to experience, irregular shaped tires will need to be replaced – meaning you’ll be spending money on tires long before you ever intended.
If you want to give your stored tires the absolute best chances of surviving the winter and have them welcome spring with the maximum amount of life left, consider doing the following:
1 / Store your tires clean
Very few of us are molecular scientists, but if we were, we’d likely all know this: failing to remove the dirt and brake dust from your tires can actually change your tire’s rubber compounds at the molecular level – reducing your tire’s level of performance and lifespan. Giving them a nice soapy rub down can help prevent this molecular change from happening.
2 / Maintain air pressure
When storing your tires for the winter, be sure that they’re inflated to the recommended tire pressure. You’ll also want to keep tabs on your tires throughout the season, as air pressure can drop in declining temperatures. The good news about this task is that it takes very little time to check your tire pressure, so be sure that it makes it on your “to-do” list once a month at the very least.
If you need to leave your tires on your car…
3 / Start your car occasionally and roll it up and down the driveway
This simple exercise will go a long way in preventing flat-spotting from occurring on your tires. The rubber compounds that make up your tire can develop a “flat spot memory”, so keeping your tires moving will help remove any short term flat spots and prevent them from re-developing these spots in the same area.
4 / Jack up the vehicle
If you don’t remove your tires, this is probably the next best thing for preventing flat-spotting. Be sure that your jacks are placed beneath secure mounting points. With no weight on the tires, flat-spotting can be completely avoided. If you don’t own jacks or simply prefer not to use them altogether, you can purchase a set of pads that help create a larger contact patch for your tires. If you don’t want to spend a lot of extra cash buying jacks or pads, consider an old set of beater tires – dedicated storage tires that are so bald that the only thing they’re good for is standing in for your good ones.
If you do remove your tires…
5 / Keep them out of direct sunlight
If you remove your all-season tires for the winter, and your winter tires for the summer, there are additional steps you can take to protect them during their off-seasons. The first, keep them out of direct sunlight. UV rays have a way of deteriorating rubber; to combat this effect, cover your tires with a tarp or other material.
Move them somewhere with a regulated temperature
If you have a heated garage, perfect. If not, a basement is the next best thing. Basements are known for their lack of UV radiation and provide an ideal storage area for tires that are susceptible to cold temperatures.