Typically, when you purchase a tire, you use it right away. However, sometimes a situation arises where you need to store a tire or four.
Surprisingly, tires often wear down faster when they are stored than when they are regularly used. Of course, how you store them affects their longevity substantially.
Take a look below to find out how long tires typically last in storage, and what you can do to make them last even longer.
How Long Do Tires Last In Storage?
Tires can last for up to six years in storage when stored properly. However, it is recommended to never use a tire that is over six years old, even if it has never been used or has been in storage. Additionally, if storing tires, ensure they are put away in a cool, dry, and dark space away from the sun to prevent cracking.
The way you store a tire, as well as the location, all have a significant impact on the tire’s longevity. Keep reading below to help make the most of your tire’s lifespan.
Do Tires Go Bad in Storage?
Technically, when stored in the right conditions, tires can last forever. However, this longevity requires a climate-controlled warehouse, which most people do not have access to.
With that said, most tires will not last this long when stored. The rubber will dry up eventually, leading to the tire being unusable.
Generally, the rule is that you have to replace the tire within six years from the manufacturer date – no matter how long it has actually been on the road.
However, this isn’t always accurate. Oftentimes, tires will perform past this if they are stored properly.
In many cases, most tires can function just fine ten years after manufacture – as long as they haven’t been on the road for longer than six years.
Of course, shelf life varies considerably from tire to tire. All tires will go bad eventually when set in storage. Predicting when this will occur is much more difficult to figure out.
Are 10-Year-Old Stored Tires Still Good?
In reality, it depends on how they were stored and the type of tire. Those stored in climate-controlled warehouses will likely still be functional after ten years. In fact, you’ll likely be unable to tell that they are ten years old at all.
However, if they were simply stored in a garage, it is doubtful that they will still be good at this point. Most garages are not appropriate for the storage of tires. In most cases, they’ll be able to work for a year or two, but that’s it.
Furthermore, tires stored outside are even worse off. For instance, the sun alone can do a lot of damage to a tire. If you leave a tire sitting out where the sub reaches it, the rubber on the upward-facing side will quickly dry out.
For this reason, we don’t recommend leaving tires out for very long. In fact, I recommend that you never use a tire that’s been sitting outside. Sometimes, the damage from the UV rays can be hidden, but still affect the safety of the tire.
If you must store tires outside, then cover them with a thick, UV-protective tarp. Of course, this only protects them from the sun’s rays, not from other elements.
No tires left outside will last for ten years, even if you cover them with a tarp.
How to Make a Stored Tire Last Longer?
Before storage, the tire should be cleaned thoroughly. Dirt and debris left on the tire can cause problems in the long run, leading to excessive wear and tear. In some cases, dirt can even lead to rot.
When storing the tire, you should be very careful to keep it out of the sun. As you might guess, the sun can do a number on a tire’s rubber. In many cases, the sun may be able to quickly damage the rubber and cause cracks.
Preferably, the tires should be stored in a cool, dark environment. In many cases, basements are a popular choice, but you should be sure that the area is dry.
Usually, the garage is not an appropriate place to store the tire.
Besides sunlight and water, oxygen can also deteriorate a tire. Therefore, I recommend storing the tire in an airtight plastic bag. Plus, this bag will also help keep the tire safe from water.
How Long Do Tires Last If Not Used?
Technically, tires stored away are only good for six years. At this time, it is highly suggested that you no longer use them.
In many cases, tires stored through conventional means will no longer be usable at this point. Usually, the elements and sun have worn them down substantially by this point. In fact, tires stored may be worse off than tires that were actively being used.
However, other tires may be used fine for a few years past six years. For instance, those stored in climate-controlled areas are typically fine until closer to ten years.
With that said, it’s ten years in total. You can’t slap a 10-year tire on a car and expect it to be fine. At that point, the tire is far too old to function correctly.
But you may be able to get away with putting a six-year-old tire on a car and then using it for three years longer than you would otherwise.
With all that said, there is a huge difference between having a tire in storage and simply setting it beside your house. If you’ve carefully stored it away, you may be able to stretch its lifespan to ten years.
Otherwise, the tire’s lifespan will likely be shorter than one in use.
How Do You Tell If Your Tires Are Too Old?
After storage, you should always carefully look at your tires to ensure that they are not damaged. In other words, you can’t simply go off the age; you need to take the tire’s condition into account too.
Some old tires will be obviously old. The rubber may be cracked or distorted, especially if it was left outside in the sun. In these cases, the tire is obviously not safe to use.
Even if a quick first look doesn’t reveal any defects, a closer inspection may. Cracks, splits, and bumps can be very tiny, but they do indicate that the tire is not safe for use.
You can check the last four digits of the DOT code to tell you the week and year the tire was manufactured. However, as we stated, age isn’t always a good indicator of the safety of the tire.
Furthermore, you should also consider your climate. In hotter areas, your stored tire will probably age faster. Weather fluctuations are not nice to a tire, especially when it isn’t being driven properly.
Depending on the storage solution you’re using, stored tires may actually age faster than those regularly used.
If you are looking to learn more, you can also see our posts on how long do spare tires last, why do new tires have hairs, how long golf cart tires last, how long RV tires last, and how long do Bridgestone tires last.