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There are good reasons to have a spare set of tyres: seasonal tyres for winter conditions, off-road tyres for the warmer months, performance tyres for motor sport. However, the problem is that even unused tyres degrade over time. Storing them in the right way is essential to avoid shortening the life of your investment.
Tyres have UV protection chemicals built into their rubber compound. These protective oils get evenly distributed over the surface of the tyre, when they are in use, to keep the tyre flexible and in good condition. The problem is that this protection becomes patchy when the tyres are not used for long periods and the tyre compound stiffens and loses its flexibility. This makes the tyres prone to cracking, which if bad enough can increase the risk of a blow out.
The above process of degradation can be hastened by exposure to: UV light, oxygen, ozone (an oxidising agent), moisture, oils and solvents.
In addition, tyres that are not stored properly can become distorted and warped due to the uneven pressure loads that they are subject to.
All these factors can significantly reduce the life of a tyre. Following the 7 tips below can help minimise these problems and enable you to get the maximum life from your tyres.
Look for a storage area that is:
• Cool, clean and dry
• Not in direct sunlight with minimal exposure to UV light
• Away from heat sources like heaters, fridges, freezers, and air-conditioners
• Moderately ventilated
• Not subject to high temperature and humidity fluctuations
• Not exposed to the fumes from solvents, fuels and lubricants
• Not exposed to ozone producing equipment such as: arc welders, generators or compressors
Tyre manufacturers recommend that tyres are cleaned before storage. Use a brush to remove caked-on dirt and brake dust and pick out any stones caught in the grooves. Then wash the tyres with a mild soapy detergent and water. Rinse well with water afterwards. Do not apply any dressing, such as tyre conditioners or gloss, to the tyres.
Dry the tyres completely before they go into storage. Any retained moisture may hasten degradation.
Tyres can be stored for short periods as they are, but for best results over a longer period it is best to place them in plastic bags.
Source some large, opaque plastic bags, such as garden cleanup bags, and ensure the interior of the bag is completely dry.
Place each tyre in a bag and expel as much air as you can – using a vacuum cleaner will help. Removing the air reduces the evaporation and degradation of the protective oils. Tape the bag shut to seal out the air.
Tip - mark each tyre with the position it occupied on the car (e.g. left front) before bagging. This will allow you to rotate the tyres when you put them back on the car.
Once bagged the best way to store your tyres will depend on whether they have rims or not.
If the tyres are mounted on a rim, then inflate them to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Following this you can either stack them or hang them. It’s best not to store them upright as they may become distorted.
Rimmed tyres can be stacked horizontally, sidewall-to-sidewall. It is recommended that the stack be kept under about 1.2 metres high, in order to avoid distortion and tipping.
Use a pallet or some sort of insulation to keep the stack off the floor and away from any damp
It is recommended that the order of the tyres in the stack be reversed every month or so to help prevent distortion.
Rimmed tyres can also be stored up and out of the way by hanging them from tyre racks or suspending them on a hook through the rim.
It is important that hooks do not damage the rims and that the weight of the wheel is taken by the rim only, so there is no pressure on the tyre wall.
Rimless tyres need to be stored without any pressure or tension to avoid distortion. This is best accomplished by raising them off the ground and standing them upright, sidewall-to-sidewall, on a shelf or in a tyre rack.
Rotate the tyres a part turn every month to minimise distortion.
Never hang unmounted tyres as this can lead to damage and distortion.
It’s best to remove the tyres from a vehicle that is not going to be used for an extended period, in order to avoid flat-spotting the tyres.
If that is not possible, try and reduce the forces on the tyres by jacking the vehicle up on blocks or at least unloading it.
Ideally have the vehicle garaged.
Before putting your tyres back on the vehicle, check to see if there are any cracks or distortion.
Manufacturers generally recommend changing tyres every 5-6 years regardless of how many kilometres they have travelled
Inflate the tyres to the manufacturer’s specification.
Rotate the tyres, when you put them back on the vehicle so as to balance out their wear profile.
If the tyres have been stored for an extended period of time, then consider having them checked by a tyre professional before remounting them.