The day has come when you need to switch your vehicle over to specialized winter tires. As you remove your trusty all-season tires, you wonder what is the best way to store them for the next 6 months or so until warmer weather returns. Can you just stack them in the corner of the garage? Or leave them outside since they’re designed for all seasons? What steps should you take so they remain in good shape?
All-season tires are designed to provide reliable performance in a variety of weather conditions. Many people don’t realize that certain storage practices can add years of extra viability to all-season tires and save you money over time.
Implementing some simple storage best practices can help preserve your investment in all-season tires.
This comprehensive guide outlines everything you need to know for optimal long-term storage.
Why storing all-season tires matter
All-season tires are built using a specialized rubber compound that provides flexibility in changing temperatures along with solid traction in rain, light snow, and dry conditions.
But subjecting them to certain environmental factors during storage can lead to cracking, dry rot, and degradation of the rubber.
This results in reduced performance and shorter usable life when the tires go back into service.
By keeping your all-season tires in the right storage conditions, you can prolong their viability by years.
It protects your investment and ensures peak safety and performance when you put them back on your vehicle.
Choosing the best storage location
Your all-season tire storage location can significantly impact its usable life. The ideal conditions are a space that’s cool, clean, and dry.
Here are the essential factors to consider when selecting a storage spot:
Cool and consistent temperatures
Avoid temperature fluctuations that can degrade the rubber compounds in your tires. The best temperature range is between 50-80°F.
Climate-controlled spaces like basements and garages tend to offer stable conditions. Outdoor storage or attics should be avoided if possible due to greater temperature swings.
The clean and dry environment
Moisture and dirt are enemies of proper tire storage. They can lead to cracking and dry rot over time.
Indoor storage in clean, dust-free spaces is preferred. If temporarily keeping tires outside, use a waterproof tarp and keep them elevated off the ground.
Away from direct sunlight
The UV radiation from sunlight can accelerate the aging of your tires’ rubber components. This causes premature cracking and deterioration.
Store tires in dark spaces away from windows and direct light.
Avoid ozone exposure
The ozone created by car exhaust fumes can have a negative impact on rubber. Try not to store tires near vehicle operation areas like garages.
Basements and indoor workshops tend to have lower ozone levels.
Secure from rodents
Mice and other rodents are attracted to the chemicals used in tire rubber. Keep your storage area clear of rodents by using tightly sealed containers or bags. Check tires periodically for any chewing or holes.
By selecting the right storage environment, you can add years to your all-season tires’ life and ensure they are ready when you need them.
Preparing tires for storage
Before stowing away your all-season tires, take them through a quick preparation process to prolong their viability and performance. Here are the key steps:
Give your tires a complete wash to remove all road grime, salt residue, and debris that can cause damage during storage.
Use soap and water with a scrub brush to clean the entire tread and sidewalls. Avoid using any tire dressings or conditioners prior to storage.
Check your tires’ pressures and inflate them to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended level. This prevents flat spotting when stored long-term. Don’t let them sit under-inflated.
Look over each tire carefully checking for any cuts, gouges, bulges, or other issues. This ensures they are fit for storage and future use. Any concerns should be inspected by a professional before storage.
For vehicles with matching sets of all-season tires, rotate them to the rear position prior to storage. This provides more even wear when put back into service.
Taking these preparatory steps helps maximize the storage life of your tires.
Recommended storage methods
How you physically store your all-season tires also impacts their longevity. Here are the top storage techniques:
Indoor rack or shelf
Storing mounted tires indoors on a rack or shelf keeps them away from the elements and hazards. Avoid stacking them which can cause flat spotting without proper supports.
For long-term storage, large airtight tire bags help prevent drying out. They protect from UV light and seal out moisture. Bags should be securely closed.
Stacked with care
If needed, tires can be stacked using alternating directions to prevent tire stain transfer. Place on pallets or supports to avoid flat spots. Don’t stack too high to prevent distortion.
Mark for rotation
Mark tires with chalk or tags to note their initial position on the vehicle. This makes rotation easier after storage to promote even tread wear.
Use a thermometer to periodically check on storage area temperatures. Take action if any major swings occur by moving them to a stable environment.
With the right storage methods, your tires will stay protected from external threats during downtime.
Other all-season tire storage tips
Beyond the basics, here are some additional tips for getting the most out of stored all-season tires:
- Consider specially formulated tire storage products that protect against drying and cracking.
- For whitewall tires, place white sidewalls together when stacking to prevent staining transfer.
- Store tires away from electric motors which can generate ozone exposure.
- If storing in bags outside, use a pallet and waterproof cover to avoid ground moisture.
- Avoid hanging tires that can weaken sidewalls over extended periods.
- Check on stored tires occasionally for any rodent damage or loosening of bags.
- Never store tires near fuels, chemicals, or solvents that can degrade rubber.
- Maintain storage temperatures above freezing to avoid tire stiffening or cracking issues.
When to replace stored tires
Even with ideal storage, all-season tires have a finite lifespan if unused for extended periods.
Here are guidelines on when to replace them:
- Inspect thoroughly after 5-6 years for any cracking, weather checking, or dry rot.
- Discard any tires over 10 years old regardless of condition or tread depth.
- Replace any tires showing bulges, uneven tread wear, or visible internal cord damage.
- Tires subjected to poor storage conditions may need replacement sooner than those kept in optimal environments.
- Heat degradation also shortens usable life so replace tire sets that have seen frequent high-temperature exposure.
While stored all-season tires can remain viable for years, it’s still vital to visually inspect and evaluate their condition before putting them back into service.
How to store unmounted tires
For all-season tires that are not mounted on rims, some extra considerations help prevent damage:
- Stand them upright rather than stacking them horizontally, which can cause flat spots.
- Use sturdy braces or stands to fully support each tire upright.
- Place on pallets or shelves to keep off concrete floors that can wick moisture.
- Avoid hanging unmounted tires, which puts more stress on the sidewalls.
- Keep in a cool, dry, dark place away from electrical motors.
- Consider using ventilated storage bags designed for unmounted tires to allow air circulation.
How to store tires without dry rotting
Dry rot occurs when moisture penetrates the rubber components in a tire, causing cracking and deterioration. Here are tips to avoid it:
- Keep tires in a controlled environment away from moisture sources.
- Use airtight plastic bags or containers to lock out humidity.
- Inspect tires periodically for any cracking or weather checking on the rubber.
- Avoid temperature swings that can force moisture in and out of the tire materials.
- Clean tires fully before storage to remove road grime that can trap moisture.
- Ensure tires have proper inflation, as underinflation promotes moisture retention.
Should all season tires be stored flat or upright
- Upright storage helps maintain the tire’s shape and prevents flat spotting on the tread contact patch.
- The stacking flat can be done safely using alternating directions and proper tire chocks. But upright is still preferable.
- Flat storage runs a higher risk of flat spotting, so take care to fully support the tires if stored horizontally.
- Taller, narrower tires like low-profiles are best stored upright rather than flat.
- Periodically flip flat-stacked tires to promote shape retention.
Ideally, store all-season tires in an upright position whenever possible. But flat stacking can work if done carefully using supports and alternating directions. The key is taking steps to avoid flat spots during storage.
Get the most from your tires
Taking the time to properly store your all-season tires helps ensure they provide many miles of safe, reliable performance when back on the road. By selecting the ideal storage location, prepping tires correctly, using the right storage methods, and replacing degraded tires, you can maximize your tire investment.
Just a little attention to optimal storage practices preserves quality and saves you money in the long run.