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Change of Seasons: Everything You Should Know About Storing Seasonal Car Tires

According to the latest reports, more than 282 million vehicles are on America's roadways these days. That figure has been steadily increasing since the automobile was invented during the late 1800s except for a brief period during the Great Depression. If the uptick holds steady, the number of vehicles worldwide could exceed three billion within the next 30 years. While it's no secret that vehicles require a certain amount of maintenance, many people aren't aware that their tires need care and upkeep as well. This is especially true when it comes to seasonal tires.

If you prefer to take the less hands-on approach to tire care, you could certainly dispose of seasonal tires when the weather begins to change. Your local mechanic can provide information about how to do so properly. In the event your tires from last summer or winter didn't survive storage in optimal condition, you could also find a used tire shop to buy road-tested seasonal tires that are in good shape. That being said, knowing how to properly store your tires when they're not in use could save you a great deal of money in the long run.

Understanding the Difference between Seasonal and All-Season Tires

All-season tires are designed to handle all types of weather and remain on vehicles all year long. While this can certainly be considered a benefit and a convenience, it also means they might pose certain problems. They don't provide the same level of handling in warm weather as summer tires do. At the same time, they don't provide as much traction on snow and ice as winter tires. Though they're tough and can last a long time, they're a bit of a compromise in the tire world.

Seasonal tires are made differently. Summer tires are designed to hug the road. They take well to sharp curves, so they won't fight back when you're enjoying those curvy mountain roads on a warm, sunny day. They won't hold you back when you're cruising down the highway at top speed, either.

On the other hand, winter tires are built with caution and dangerous driving conditions in mind. They have deeper tread and different tread patterns that are designed to give you better traction on icy roads. Their rubber is made to withstand the extreme cold that can cause summer tires to become less flexible as well. This type of tire may not be necessary in areas like the Deep South where winters don't get very harsh. In other regions, though, they're essential.

Storing Your Seasonal Tires

If you're one of the many vehicle owners who change out your tires according to the season, it's important to preserve the ones you're not using until it's time to have them mounted again. Doing so will prevent you from having to purchase new tires each time summer or winter rolls back around. Consider taking the following measures to keep your seasonal tires in top-notch condition.

Clean the Tires Well

After having seasonal tires taken off of your vehicle, be sure to clean them thoroughly with soap and water. If you leave mud, road grime, salt, and other substances on the tires while they're in storage, they can take a toll on the rubber and detract from the tires' lifespan. Rinse them well afterward, too. Prolonged exposure to cleaning products can damage the tires as well. Tires are designed to hold up to the elements, friction against asphalt, impacts from potholes, and other hazards, but that's while they're being used regularly. When you take them off of a vehicle, it changes the variables of the equation.

Allow the Tires to Dry Completely

Your next step is to get rid of excess moisture. After cleaning and rinsing, pour as much water as possible out of the insides of the tires. Then, allow them to dry completely before placing them in storage. You may need to roll them a few inches here and there to ensure their entire internal and external surfaces are completely dry. As is the case with mud, salt, and other substances, prolonged exposure to moisture can cause tire damage.

Place the Tires in an Airtight Container

Once the tires are dry, place them in an airtight storage container. While there are tire caddies and other products on the market for this purpose, many experts insist that large trash bags or vacuum-seal bags are the best options. Place each tire in its own bag and remove as much air as possible. Then, seal the openings of the bags well. This will help keep moisture, dirt, and other elements from damaging the tires while you're not using them. It'll also safeguard them against dry-rotting caused by oxygen.

Keep Tires in a Cool, Dry Place

When the tires are safely bagged, store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Garages, basements, and storage sheds tend to work well. This extra effort will aid in protecting your tires from extreme temperatures and moisture. It'll also safeguard them against the weathering, cracking, and other problems that being exposed to the sun's UV rays can cause. Ultraviolet rays are forms of radiation, and they can damage tires just as much as they can harm the skin.

Store Tires Upright

Many people lay tires flat and stack them in storage. It's best to avoid this route if possible. Instead, store the tires upright. Stacking them can cause them to bow and become misshapen. That could lead to handling problems when you have them mounted on the car at the end of the season. It may also lead to leaks and other issues. If you have to stack them, consider flipping them weekly or so to prevent distortion.

Keep Your Tires Ready for the Road

High-quality tires aren't cheap, so taking care of the ones you have will save you a great deal of money over time. If you use seasonal tires, be sure to clean them well and store them properly until you're ready to have them remounted. All the extra time and effort will go a long way toward ensuring they're always ready for the road when you need them.

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