Tyres are, without a doubt, a crucial component of every car. However, there comes a time when we may have to store our tyres for an extended period of time. On such occasions, the storage conditions are of major importance for prolonging the lifespan of the tyres and preserving their best performance.
No matter if you have an extra set or you’re swapping between winter and summer tyres, you need to store your car’s tyres in the most efficient way possible to ensure their preservation. So get comfortable as we go through the factors that affect a tyre’s longevity when stored and provide tips on how you can ensure you keep your set of tyres in good condition.
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How long can tyres last in storage?
On average, car tyres can last in storage for approximately 6 to 10 years. Bike tyres can also have a longer lifespan if stored properly and if they are of high quality. In general, high-quality bike tyres stored in good condition can last anywhere from 2 to 7 years or even longer.
However, several factors can affect the longevity of any set of tyres during storage. Primarily the conditions in which they are stored and the specific type you have. Tyres that are stored properly can maintain their integrity for a significant duration, but there are still limitations to their shelf life.
Tyre compounds are formulated to withstand the pressures of road use, including heat, friction, and exposure to the elements. Despite not being used, tyres are susceptible to environmental factors that wear them out.
Ozone, UV radiation, temperature fluctuations, and moisture exposure are among the elements that can gradually degrade the structural components of tyres. As tyres age, the rubber can become brittle and less flexible, potentially leading to cracking and reduced performance when eventually put into service.
The type of tyres you have also play a role in determining how long they can last in storage. Tyres with softer rubber compounds, such as those used in high-performance or racing tyres, might have a shorter shelf life compared to harder compound tyres typically found on passenger vehicles or commercial trucks.
To stay on the safe side, remind yourself to check on your set of tyres from time to time for any signs of cracks, dryness, or any other visible damage. Remember, even if tyres appear fine from a visual inspection, they may have deteriorated internally, making them less safe to use.
Conditions affecting tyre longevity in storage
Several critical factors can impact the longevity and overall condition of your tyres. If you want to keep them in good shape and keep them running at their best, you must understand and manage these factors.
Temperature and humidity
Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can have detrimental effects on tyre rubber. When it’s super hot, the material starts breaking down and getting worse. That means the tyres lose their bounciness and grip and are more likely to get cracks. But when it’s very cold, the rubber gets stiff, which can make flat spots and mess up the shape of the tyres.
High humidity levels can contribute to the degradation of tyre rubber as well. Humid environments can accelerate the oxidation process of the rubber compounds, leading to cracking and weakening of the tyre structure.
Rubber is what makes up the main part of the tyres. It’s made of different types of polymers that give the tire its strength and ability to bend. But here’s the thing – when rubber interacts with oxygen for a while, it goes through a process called oxidation. This is like a chemical chat between oxygen molecules and rubber molecules that ends up changing how the rubber behaves.
Oxidation can turn rubber from flexible and bendy to kind of stiff and fragile. So, you might start noticing little cracks on the surface of your tire. Those cracks aren’t just a cosmetic issue – they weaken the tire, making it more likely to get damaged.
The oxidation process can also deprive the rubber of its natural bounciness. This can have a big impact on how your tire works. It might not be as good at taking up bumps in the road, and it could have trouble gripping the pavement properly and giving you the traction you need.
Proper weight distribution is a critical factor that often goes overlooked. The way you stack and position your tyres for storage can significantly impact their structural integrity and overall lifespan.
Stacking heavy objects on top of tyres or placing them under excessive weight can lead to tyre deformation. Deformed tyres may develop flat spots or irregular shapes, which can affect their performance and balance when reinstalled on a vehicle.
Uneven weight distribution on stacked tyres can cause specific areas of the tyres to bear more weight than others. Over time, this can result in uneven wear patterns, reducing the tyre’s tread life and potentially compromising its traction and handling capabilities.
Tyres are designed to bear the weight of a vehicle in motion. Storing them under excessive static load or in a bent or compressed position can cause internal structural damage, affecting the tyre’s overall integrity.
When it comes to storing tyres for an extended period, how you position them can significantly impact their longevity and performance when they’re eventually put back into use. Proper tyre positioning is crucial for maintaining their shape, avoiding deformation, and ensuring that they’re ready to provide optimal performance once they’re back on your vehicle.
Storing tyres vertically, like standing them upright, is often recommended by tyre manufacturers and experts. This positioning helps distribute the weight of the tyre evenly, preventing flat spots and minimising stress on the tyre’s structure. When tyres are stored vertically, they are less likely to deform and maintain their round shape, ensuring better overall performance.
Horizontal positioning involves laying tyres flat on their sides. While this method is also acceptable, it’s essential to avoid stacking too many tyres on top of each other, as excessive weight can lead to deformation and flat spots. If you choose to store tyres horizontally, consider using tyre cradles or stands to ensure even weight distribution and reduce the risk of damage.
Tips for prolonging tyres’ lifespan in storage
Preserving the longevity and performance of your tyres during extended periods of storage requires a strategic approach. As your vehicle rests in anticipation of future adventures, your tyres, too, deserve thoughtful care to ensure they’re primed for optimal performance when the time comes.
- Clean and inspect – Before storing tyres, ensure they are thoroughly cleaned to remove dirt, debris, and brake dust. Additionally, inspect the tyres for any signs of damage or wear. Addressing these issues before storage can help prevent further deterioration.
- Inflate according to recommendation – Inflate the tyres to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure before storage. Proper inflation helps maintain the tyre’s shape and reduces the risk of flat spots.
- Rotate tyres – If you have a set of four tyres, consider rotating them periodically while in storage. This can help prevent flat spots from forming on one side of the tyre.
- Protect with plastic – Store your tyres in airtight plastic bags or cover them in plastic wrap to minimise exposure to oxygen and humidity. This can significantly extend their lifespan.
- Apply special coatings – Applying specialised tyre coatings or protectants can provide an additional barrier, minimising the impact of oxygen and other environmental factors. These coatings can help maintain the rubber’s integrity and prolong the tyre’s lifespan.
- Do regular check-ups – Even when in storage, it’s a good idea to check on your tyres every few months. Look for any changes in appearance or signs of deterioration. This will allow you to address issues early and take necessary actions to preserve their condition.
- Avoid overloading – Again, it’s important not to stack too many tyres on top of each other. Overloading a stack can lead to excessive pressure on the bottom tyres and increase the risk of deformation. If you anticipate long periods of non-use, it might be beneficial to use tyre stands, cradles, or suspension systems to keep the weight off the tyres altogether.
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- Tyres appropriately stored can last around 6 to 10 years on average;
- Temperature, humidity, oxygen exposure, weight distribution, and positioning can impact the tyre condition during storage;
- Take good care of your tyres to extend their lifespan during storage.