Whether you’ve got a spare set of tires for the snow or a set for the track, anyone passionate about our cars is looking for a better way to store tires in the garage.
No matter what you use your spare tires for, you want them up off the ground and out of the way.
Most tire manufacturers recommend you store unmounted tires upright and never stacked on top of each other. Tires mounted on wheels should be either hung individually or stacked. Sun and weather can break down the runner, so tires should never be stored outside.
There are several options to store your spare tires while keeping your garage looking great. Choosing the right way to store your tires will help them last longer and perform better once they’re back on your car.
I created this handy cheat sheet below to tell you how to store your tires, whether they’re unmounted or mounted on rims.
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How Do You Store Unmounted Tires?
I buy tires online, so I usually have an extra set stored in my garage temporarily. For years, my first instinct was to stack them on top of each other to save space.
Even though you see it all the time in auto stores, you should never stack unmounted tires on top of each other.
The rubber in your tires will flatten under any weight, even when sitting in the parking lot. The longer the tires stay in one place, the more this happens.
The sidewall is the weakest part of the tire with the least amount of support. When you stack tires on top of each other, the weight will compress the tire wall. The combined weight of the tires can crush the sidewall of the tires underneath.
If left too long, you may not be able to mount the tire. Then your $300 tire is nothing but an oversized chew toy for your dog.
Similarly, avoid hanging unmounted tires on the wall or from chains. The point where the tire rests on the hanger will gradually deform over time, and the tire will be ruined.
Instead, store your unmounted tires vertically on one of the tire racks below. Manufacturers recommend rotating the tires every month to avoid flat-spotting.
How Do You Store Tires on Rims?
Because the wheel helps support the tire’s sidewall, you store tires differently when they’re already mounted on wheels\rims.
You don’t want to store mounted wheels vertically on a rack because the wheel’s weight will cause the tire to develop flat spots faster.
The best way to store tires mounted on rims is to hang them on your garage wall. The wheel will support the weight and keep your tire in good condition.
Another option is to stack them on top of each other, with the wheels supporting the weight.
Depending on the design of your wheels, it may be necessary to slightly lower the tire’s air pressure. However, don’t lower it below 10 psi.
There needs to be a higher pressure inside the tire to keep the seal intact. Lower tire pressures run the risk of developing a slow leak.
When cleaning the tires that final time before storage, also take the time to clean the wheel. Use whatever cleaner works for your wheel’s finish, but don’t get any on the tires themselves.
If you do, wipe it off with regular soap and water.
Is It Bad To Store Tries Outside?
Never store tires outside in direct sunlight.
The temperature of a tire sitting in the sun can easily reach 135° degrees Fahrenheit. There’s no danger of the tire melting, but storing your tires outside in the sun will shorten their lifespan.
The bigger problem is the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
That’s right. The same thing that gives us sunburns is terrible for your tires too.
Tires have coatings to help them expand and contract in varying temperatures. The sun’s UV rays can dry out the tires and weaken them.
Once that happens, you’ll see small cracks forming on the tires, like in the picture above. If not caught quickly, the dry rot becomes a serious safety concern and may cause the tire to blow out at highway speeds, shredding completely off the wheel. (source)
It’s best to store your tires in a climate-controlled garage or storage area. However, anywhere indoors is better than sitting unprotected and exposed to the elements.
Keep Your Tires Cool & Dry In Storage
Speaking of a climate-controlled area, you should always keep your tires as cool as possible, but never anywhere it can freeze.
Rubber expands and contracts with temperature changes. Each time it goes through that expand\contract cycle, there are chances that small cracks will form and break down the tire’s integrity.
During regular use, the oils in the rubber disperse and help prevent any damage. If the tires sit in the same place, they never get the chance.
Ideally, you’ll store tires in airtight tire storage bags, but that’s not always practical. However, you don’t want anything kept on a garage shelf to spill on your tires (motor oil, antifreeze, fertilizer, paint, etc.).
Things To Avoid
Never use tire dressings
You should never use a petroleum-based dressing on your tires, even the ones on your car. Petroleum helps break down the rubber’s natural protection and shorten its lifespan.
Many companies have moved away from petroleum in their products. But if you’re storing tires for any length of time, a simple soap and water cleaning is all you need.
Do Not Store Tires Near Electric Motors
Almost everything has an electric motor of some sort, and many of those produce ozone as a byproduct.
Air filters and ionizing air purifiers are some of the biggest culprits.
Not only is ozone a lung irritant, but it will also break down the rubber in your tires. Keep your tires as far away from electric motors as possible. (source)
Should You Clean Tires Before Storage: Yes, and this just makes sense, right?
Before you put your winter tires away for the spring, you’ll want to clean off any salt, road grime, or brake dust that’s accumulated. Use a gentle soap and water solution only, not any tire shine or other dressings.
More on that later on.
How long can you store tires in the garage? Like anything else, tires have a finite lifespan. Even if stored correctly, they will eventually break down and become unsafe to put back on your car.
Tires have a theoretical lifespan of around ten years when stored in perfect conditions. This means climate-controlled, dark, vacuum-sealed bags.
Six years is more realistic for those who don’t live in a laboratory environment.
Do tires give off toxic fumes? Rubber creation involves dozens of toxic chemicals (including carbon disulfide).
Oddly enough, there have been no significant studies since 1988 on exposure to fumes from rubber. That study did find an increase in heart disease but couldn’t directly link it to exposure to fumes.
How do you keep tires from dry rotting? Dry-rotting is caused when rubber compounds start to degrade.
The best way to keep tires from dry-rotting is to keep them in an airtight plastic bag and out of the sun’s harmful UV rays.
I’ve said a few times before, but it’s worth repeating here: never use petroleum-based tire dressings before you store your tires.
Best Ways to Store Tires In Your Garage
Here is a list of the best ways to store tires in the garage.
Best Way To Store Mounted Tires: Merrick Machine (M998070)
If you want to store tires mounted on wheels, then putting them on wall posts is the best way.
Merrick easily makes the best wall mount for wheels and tires available. They’re made of heavy gauge, red-painted steel and can hold up to 220 lbs each.
You can find similar hangers on Amazon or even use some garage wall storage systems in a pinch. However, they’re not as sturdy and can only hold half as much.
My only complaint is that the finish is more industrial than I’d like. Griot’s Garage used to make a similar product, but it hasn’t been available for quite some time.
Best Tire Rack For Unmounted Tires: SafeRacks Tire Rack
For storing unmounted tires, I recommend SafeRacks tire rack.
SafeRacks is a veteran-owned company based in California that makes a lot of different storage solutions. They made their name on overhead storage, but they make my favorite tire rack as well.
This tire rack is made of a 12-gauge tubular steel frame, can extend up to 56″ in width, and can hold up to 400 lbs.
What I love about the SafeRacks tire rack is the design. You’ll find most of the tire racks are basic, light gauge steel with maybe a coat of red paint to set them apart. This has custom-designed brackets and contrasting bars that really look amazing.
No matter how you’ve designed your dream garage, the SafeRacks tire rack will fit right in.
Best Tire Dolly: John Dow Tire Taxi\Tire Taxi HD
If you don’t have the space for a tire rack or don’t need to store tires in your garage very often, then a tire dolly may be the solution.
There are several tire dollies on the market, and most are relatively similar. The designs usually have four rolling casters, one of which will lock, and there are holes to make it easier to secure tie-down straps.
What makes John Dow’s Tire Taxi special is that there are two of them.
The standard Tire Taxi (right) is designed for passenger vehicle tires and can support up to 265 lbs. If you have a truck or off-road vehicle, you’ll want to spring for the Tire Taxi HD (left).
The Tire Taxi HD is bigger and sports a weight capacity of 552 lbs.
I’ll admit that neither John Dow Tire Taxi nor the Tire Taxi HD is the cheapest option.
Far from it, actually. That’s because they’re designed for professional use and are more durable than some of the cheaper options.
If you only need a tire dolly occasionally, this is probably overkill. Instead, go with the MaxxHaul 80746 to save some money. But if you want something that will last longer and take a lot of abuse, then the John Dow Tire Taxi is the way to go.