In many parts of the US and Canada, it is common to have two sets of wheels and tires to tackle seasonal differences in driving conditions. You know what to do with them while they are on your car, but what is the proper way to store the ones you put up for the season? Here are some tips to ensure your seasonal tires are ready to go when it is time to swap them out.
1. Clean Your Wheels - Contaminants and road grime can degrade the finish on your wheels while they are in storage. Before you put them away, clean your wheels with some mild detergent. Rinse them off and make sure they are completely dry before you put them away for the season.
2. Clean and Treat Your Tires - Tires are made of natural and synthetic rubbers and can dry out while in storage, causing dry rot and cracking which will have you looking for new tires too soon. Before putting them away, clean your tires with a liquid or foaming tire cleaner and wipe off any residue. Then apply a silicon-based spray, called tire dressing, to the rubber. This will soak into the rubber and prevent dry rot while keeping the rubber supple.
3. Check the Tire Pressure - You want to store your tires fully inflated. Underinflated tires placed on a hard surface can develop flat spots which translate into an annoying thump when they are back on the road. Usually, this is temporary, but keeping the tires properly inflated will help the rubber maintain its round shape while on the shelf.
4. Visually Inspect Everything - Check over the sidewalls, tread, and bead carefully to identify any damage or uneven wear. If tires are damaged you will have months to put a plan together for replacement instead of being faced with the expense on the day you want to put them back on your vehicle. If uneven tire wear exists, you can have your local tire center check your suspension, alignment and wheel bearings to correct the cause of the uneven wear before your swapped tires become the next victims.
5. Bag It Up - Once your tires are properly inflated, cleaned and dressed, slide a large heavy-duty lawn bag over each one and seal it by rolling the opening and taping the bag shut. This will allow you to open the bag up periodically to make sure the air pressure is staying consistent and will keep the silicone tire dressing from evaporating out of the rubber. It will also keep dust and grime from getting on your wheels and offer some protection from accidental bumps.
6. Tag Your Tires - Make sure you tag each tire with a grease pencil or tag each bag, to indicate which position the tire was on your vehicle. Tag the front left as FL, rear right as RR and so on. You want to put them back on the corner of the car they were removed from so you will not mess up your rotation schedule.
7. Stack 'Em Flat - Don't store the tires standing up. This can create flat spots. It can also allow them to roll around or fall over. Place a piece of plywood or a couple of 2x4s on the garage floor to keep them off the ground and then stack your wheels and tires horizontally.
Seasonal tires are a great way to get ready for changing road conditions or to get your vehicle ready for double duty on the track or off-road. Take care of each set of tires and wheels you own and get the most effective life for your money.