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By Jason Okolisan

Spring is finally here and it’s time to change your winter tires to all-seasons or summers if you haven’t already done so. Most Canadians have two sets of tires for optimum vehicle performance and safety but having an extra set of tires presents a storage challenge for many of us. Here are some tips to properly store your car’s winter tires and ideas for where to store them if you are tight on space. 

I have winter tires mounted on dedicated rims for my Honda Accord and Acura CSX. I store the extra sets of wheels in my garage stacked on top of each other. I don’t use a tire rack or any other organizing accessories; I keep it simple. Here are some tips and considerations for preparing to store tires for an extended period of time.

Wash and dry: Tires are a vital part of your vehicle and although they are a wear and tear item, tires will last longer if they are properly cared for. Before storing your seasonal tires, wash them with automotive soap and water to remove road grime and brake dust from the rims. Dry the wheels before putting them in storage. Do not apply tire conditioners or gloss.

tires stacked on top of each other for winter tire storage

Check tire condition

This is a good time to inspect the condition of your tires, looking for cracks and deterioration of aging rubber. Check the tire depth; if it is close to or at the wear indicator, you are going to need a new set of tires for the start of the next seasonal change over. Budget and prepare to make that purchase.

Detailed inspection

Using a screwdriver, pick out the little stones jammed between the tread blocks so that the tread is stored without being stretched. Check tire pressure and adjust to the recommended PSI. Check valve stems to ensure they are not seized.

Bag tires

It is advantageous (but not totally necessary) to put each tire in an opaque plastic bag, make it as air tight as possible (use a vacuum cleaner) and tape it shut. This helps to prevent the oils in the rubber from evaporating – which leads to drying and cracking. Bags protect the tire from environmental humidity and moisture fluctuations as well.

Keep them indoors

The most important aspect of tire storage is to keep them in a climate controlled indoor location such as your basement, heated garage or workshop. Don’t leave tires outside subjecting them to nature’s elements. The sun’s ultraviolet rays will shorten tire life. Rain and other weather elements will also accelerate tire degradation.

House storage

If storing tires in your house, keep them away from items that emit carbon monoxide such as a furnace, central vacuum or sump pump. Keep tires in a cool, dry location free from humidity fluctuation. Attics are not a suitable place to store tires.

Tire storage facilities

If you don’t have space to store your tires indoors, look into tire storage options with your mechanic or car dealership. There are also facilities that specialize in seasonal tire storage. They will pick-up and return your seasonal tires when it’s time to change them. Average cost of seasonal tire storage (6 months) is $60-$80.

man storing winter tires on a tire rack

Garage storage

Many people choose to store tires in their unheated garage or shed. Temperature and moisture fluctuations make this environment less than ideal but if this is your only option, it’s better than leaving them outdoors. It’s okay to stack tires on top of each other. If you bag them, then there’s a protective barrier, otherwise put cardboard or a towel between the tires to prevent the rims from getting scratched (if tires are mounted on rims).

Tire rack and stands

There are a variety of tire storage accessories available at auto supply stores such as tire racks, stands and shelves. Canadian Tire (for example) has a number of models ranging from $40-$130. Tire racks, stands and shelves are a nice way to get your tires off the floor and out of the way by hanging them on the garage wall or neatly stacked on display in the corner. It is preferred (but not essential) to stand tires up on their tread for prolonged storage rather than stacking them on top of each other. Tire racks are more about aesthetics and organizing your garage then essential tire care.

White letter tires

If not storing white letter tires in plastic bags, stack them white-to-white and black-to-black to prevent staining the white rubber. If stacking tires on top of each other, place a peace of cardboard or towel in-between the tires to prevent the white letters from staining and protect the rims from getting scratched.

No matter what degree of precautions and measures you take in preparing your seasonal tires for storage, the rubber will eventually degrade with age and need to be replaced regardless of use. However, by following the above steps, your tires will last longer and you’ll be better prepared for the change of season when it comes time to switch your tires in the spring and fall.