From time to time, drivers have their car tyres changed for various reasons. Most often it is because they are changing winter tyres to summer tyres or the other way round. If the tyres are still in good condition for next summer/winter, you can store them at home or at a professional storage service.
Many garages now offer a range of additional services, including delivery with tyre fitting and the storage of car tyres and rims. This may cost a few pounds for each item stored but this solution is certainly more convenient for those with limited storage space at home.
However, many drivers who have the right conditions prefer to store their tyres in their own basement or garage. There are benefits and downsides to both options but you should always remember that proper storage is key to maintaining the quality and condition of your tyres and wheels so that they last for years.
How to prepare car tyres for storage
Rubber can be adversely affected by various chemicals, including petrol, oil and solvents, so tyres should be thoroughly washed before storing.
You can do this using lukewarm water mixed with a car shampoo. Simply clean the tyres using a sponge or brush and, after washing, a thorough rinse will remove any remaining foam. If you’re using a pressure washer, keep it at a minimum distance of 30 cm from the tyre as this will prevent damage.
Speaking of damage, any wear and tear on the tyre will be much more visible after washing. This is a good time to inspect each tyre carefully for any signs or problems. You can also take this opportunity to remove any stones that have become lodged between the tread blocks, as well as checking for the likes of saw-tooth tyre damage.
If you’re planning to store a whole wheel, also consider using a fine brush to clean carefully every nook and cranny of the wheel rim.
After washing them thoroughly, it is worth conserving the tyres using car cosmetics designed for this purpose.
When the tyres are clean, it is best to conserve them using the appropriate cosmetic products. This will protect them against harmful external factors and extend the lifetime of your tyres. Before applying any product, be sure to read the instructions that come with it, as every item has its own recommended method of use.
Before you take any further steps, allow the tyres to dry off.
Note: Do not place wet tyres in plastic sacks, as the remaining water may consequently cause bubbles to appear on the inside of the tyre.
How to store tyres with and without rims
You can store your tyres without rims or whole wheels (tyres with rims). Be aware, though, that there is a difference when it comes to the conditions in which you should store the two options.
Tyres without rims should be stored vertically, standing on their treads, and their position should be changed at times, preferably at least once a month. You can, for example, rotate them through 90 degrees. Another good solution is to place the tyres on a stand so that they are a few centimetres above the ground. Alternatively, you can also hang them from the ceiling, which will save you floor space.
Note: Tyres must not be hung on hooks as this may cause deformations and render them unusable as a result.
Complete wheels (with rims) should be placed in a pile, one on top of the other. You may place a piece of cardboard or fibreboard on the ground to protect the tyre at the bottom from rubbing against the floor, which may not always be smooth or clean. Further pieces of cardboard may also be inserted between individual wheels when standing in a pile.
These wheels can also be hung on special hooks or stands which are available at a good price at various online shops.
Rules for storing tyres with rims
If you’re storing your car wheels or tyres on your rim, there are few specific rules you should follow. In short:
- Wheels should not be stored vertically.
- The rims should be hanged on hooks.
- Alternatively, you can store the wheels horizontally (stacked), but the order should be switched every four weeks to avoid the deformation of the bottom tyre.
- Rules for storing tyres without rims.
While it is worth investing in two sets of wheels not to have to change the tyres, not every driver wants to do that. Alternatively, you can store your tyres without rims as it makes fitting the tyre much easier. To properly store tyres without rims, follow these guidelines:
- Tyres should be stored vertically, not horizontally.
- They should not be hanged on hooks.
- The tyres should be rotated every four weeks, by a reasonably large degree.
How to prepare aluminium rims for storage
Aluminium rims require a lot of attention, particularly when automatic car washes are used. Brake block dust and other dirt accumulates in the recesses of the wheel and, after some time, may become difficult to remove. The best way to clean aluminium rims is with products specifically designed for this purpose as their ingredients are capable of removing persistent dirt without damaging the rim surface. Try not to spray too much onto the tyre itself.
Spread the product over the entire surface of the rim using a fine brush. Be careful not to miss or overlook any recesses or other places which are difficult to access. Wait a few minutes and rinse the cleaning product off of the wheels. If needed, repeat this process as some layers of dirt might be tougher to remove. Other types of dirt may require the use of a highly abrasive paste or specialist asphalt removers.
After washing your rims, it is a good idea to conserve them using a product that prevents dirt from adhering, as well as producing a shiny surface. Such cleaning goods are available especially for wheel rims, or else you can use a product used for surfaces with properties similar to car body lacquer.
To polish your rims, apply a small amount of wax or polish, either rubbing by hand or using a special, spherical polishing tool. This tool can help significantly speed up the work when using simple rim models, but even then it will undoubtedly be necessary to finish the task manually, using a rag, in the largest recesses. If you do not have the time, or desire, to polish your wheels, you may use liquid wax, which does not require polishing in this manner.
How to prepare steel rims for storage
Steel rims do not require as much maintenance as aluminium rims. Nevertheless, they should still be washed thoroughly with water and shampoo or a special product for wheels, applied using a sponge or brush. This is an important step as dirty and damp steel rims can rust, even when held in storage. Therefore, once you have made sure your rims are clean, you can store them safely.
Do not place wet tyres in plastic sacks.
What are the best conditions for storing tyres?
The conditions in which tyres should be stored are regulated by the international standards. The perfect tyre storage conditions are outlined in the ISO 2230 standard. The major requirements include:
- A constant, moderate temperature between –5°C and +25°C,
- A maximum air humidity of 70%,
- A storage space away from sources of heat, such as boilers and radiators,
- An indoor storage area – outdoor tyre storage is generally not recommended as exposure to sunlight accelerates the ageing process of the rubber,
- A storage space away from solvents, petroleum products and devices producing ozone effects, such as transformers and generators,
- A storage space that is occasionally aired or has moderate ventilation.
Some experts also recommend placing tyres in plastic covers which protect them against various external factors such as dirt and UV radiation. Remember, however, that tyres and rims must be completely dry when placed in these covers. Instead of plastic covers, you can also use practical textile covers which usually have a handle to make the tyres easier to carry.
Car manufacturers often have their own, strictly defined storage methods and conditions, which they usually impose on tyre retailers who sell their products. Michelin, for example, provides distributors with detailed instructions on storage methods and conditions. According to those, Michelin tyres should be stored for up to three years after they are manufactured.
As far as tyre aging is concerned, tests conducted by Michelin and other tyre testing organisations, such as ADAC, have shown that stored tyres aging processes are much slower than tyres that are in use. According to research, no changes occur during the first three years during which new tyres are stored. In other words, a tyre used for 3 weeks ages as much as a tyre stored for a whole year. A tyre used for just one week, but under inflated by 35%, ages as much as a tyre after 1 year of storage.
What this shows is that it is important for motorists to be well informed of the recommended storage conditions but in most cases, as long as they store their car wheels and tyres in a proper way, drivers can expect them to last for another season.
The consequences of incorrect tyre storage
Whether used or not, tyres age over time. Therefore, even while being stored, some of the vital properties of the materials and compounds can fade. This can result in noticeable changes in performance. There are a number of things that could happen as a consequence of incorrect tyre storing, including:
- The physical properties of the tyre being altered, including deformed sidewalls, beads or tread areas.
- Shortened durability of the tyres.
- In extreme cases, there may be enough tyre damage to render the tyre unusable.
It's also worth checking the tyre age of your tyres before you store them as older tyres may have already started losing their properties. Find the tyre date (in DOT form) which is placed along the sidewall and check for how long you can still use your tyres.
Ultimately, the most serious physical and chemical changes in tyres mainly occur through their use, with the common causes being internal heating and tension. These are typically the result of inflation, load, deformation and impacts, which do not occur when in storage.
Wheels and tyres are among the most important elements of the vehicle as they are responsible for your and other road users’ safety. As such, they should always be in good condition, and it is therefore essential that they should be stored correctly. Well looked after and properly stored tyres and rims will retain their properties - and keep you safe - for many years.