How to Prevent Dry Rot in Stored Tires
Dry rot is when the rubber in tires loses its moisture and becomes tough and brittle. Due to their lost elasticity, tires that have developed dry rot past a certain point need to be replaced as they are prone to blowing out while being driven on.
Dry rotting is more prevalent in tires that are stationary for a period of three months or more. This is because tires are kept moist by resins and oils within the rubber; these oils need downward pressure to be activated, and such pressure comes from coming into regular weighted contact with the road during driving. If your tires aren’t being driven on, then they lack this protection against moisture loss.
Although keeping tires in storage (either on their own or attached to a vehicle) can increase their chances of developing dry rot, there are a lot of precautions that you can take to ensure that your tires suffer minimal deterioration while in storage. The following will explain how to keep stored tires in top condition.
Keep tires out of direct sunlight while in storage
UV causes the oils and resins that keep tires moist to degrade and eventually leech out of the surface of the tire. Therefore, if tires are frequently kept in direct sunlight, they are far more likely to suffer from dry rotting.
In our guide to preparing a car for long-term storage, we spoke about the importance of keeping your car under a weatherproof cover while being stored. If you ensure that this weatherproof cover is long enough to cover your tires, then they should be protected from UV rays as well as from dust and debris. This is why covering your car is extra important if you are keeping your car in a storage space that lets light in.
Ensure that your tires are clean and dry before they go into storage
Tires that are muddy are more prone to dry rotting. This is because as the moisture in mud evaporates off the surface of the tire, it lifts out some of the oils that help keep the rubber moist (its the same reason why licking your lips regularly can make dried, chapped lips worse).
You should therefore clean any dirt or mud off the surface of your tires before you put your vehicle into long-term storage. The best way to clean tires is with warm water and a small amount of either hand soap or kitchen detergent. Do not use any specialist tire cleaning products. These are often petroleum based and are designed to be “rubbed in” to the tires as they are driven on. If the tires are not being driven on immediately after the application of these cleaning products then this can make the tire dry out even faster.
Try to store your tires at a constant temperature
Temperatures that are above 68 Farenheit and below 45 Farenheit can speed up the dry rotting of tires. Similarly, regular rapid swings in temperatures (anything over 15 Fahrenheit in a couple of hours) can lead to dry rotting as it speeds up evaporation from the tire.
If possible, you want to store your vehicle in a space that is climate controlled, and where the temperature is slightly cooler than standard room temperature (55-59 Fahrenheit is ideal). If you can keep your car in a storage facility that has humidity control as well as temperature control, then that is even more of a bonus, as excessively dry environments can accelerate tire degredation.
Remove tires from your car if you are storing it for more than three months
Dry rotted tires can be restored to the point where they can be driven on again, but only if the dry rotting has not lead to cracks in the sidewall of the tire. These cracks in the sidewall are more likely to occur if the tire is holding up the weight of a stationary vehicle while in storage.
Therefore, if you are storing your vehicle for more than three months, and have no plans on driving that vehicle during that time, you should consider removing your tires from the car. Ideally, you want to remove the tire from the wheel entirely, as even the stretching of the rubber around the rim of a tire can make cracks in the sidewall more likely to occur.
Vehicles without tires can be mounted on hydraulic jack stands. If this is not possible, then it may be worth buying a pair of cheaper second hand tires to have on your car while it is being stored. Just try to keep driving on these tires to a minimum – they are just a stop gap to prevent damage to your existing tires.
Store loose tires in airtight bags
If you decide to remove tires from your car, or you are storing spare tires, then its best to keep them in airtight (or as airtight as possible) bags while they are in storage. Oxygen is a contributor to dry rotting (this is why a degree of dry rotting occurs in all tires) so keeping tires in airtight bags can help reduce the speed at which dry rotting occurs.
There are several options to how you can store tires in airtight conditions. Specialist tire bags are available, and these can come in custom sizes to match the size of your tires. You can also use vacuum sealed bags, although the majority of these available at homeware stores will not be large enough to store a tire in.
Storing your tires in bags (even if they are not airtight) will go a long way to preventing dry rot compared to storing them unbagged. Buying a bunch of large industrial platic bags and taping up the open ends with electrical tape is a cost effective way of keeping loose tires stored in a way that protects them from dry rotting.
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If you want to store a vehicle, a great place to do this is our car storage spaces in Belleville. Save precious garage space at home while keeping your car protected behind fencing, 24-hour video surveillance, and other security measures. To snag storage for your car today, simply call or rent online today!
This article was written by Mike Skoropad. Mike is the CEO of Utires, an online tire retailer headquartered in Chicago.