How to Prevent Tire Dry Rot in Long-Term Storage

This article was contributed by Mike Skoropad, CEO of online tire retailer United Tires, offering high quality used tires and affordable pricing. Updated May, 2022.

Although it may seem like tires are unlikely to degrade when they are not in use, long-term storage of tires actually makes them more prone to certain types of damage. Tires are designed to be in motion regularly, meaning that being stationary can have negative effects on their long-term durability.

For example, if you’re wondering how to prevent dry rot in tires or how to prevent flat spots in tires, both problems can be avoided by taking the right precautions before long-term vehicle storage. This article explains how to prevent these common tire storage problems, and explores the best ways to prepare and store your wheels to prevent tire flat spots and dry rot.

How to Prevent Dry Rot on Tires

Dry rot is when the rubber that makes up your tire dries out, becoming very hard and brittle. All tires develop dry rot to a certain extent over their lifetime, however, it becomes a problem when cracks start appearing in the sidewall of the tire as a result of its brittleness.

Tires are kept moist by oils and resins that are mixed in with the rubber during the manufacturing process. These oils and resins are only activated when a tire is in motion. Therefore, tires that are immobile for an extended period of time (such as stored tires) are more prone to developing dry rotting.

Other key contributors to dry rotting in tires are:

  • Exposure to heat and rapid changes in temperature
  • Exposure to UV rays
  • Exposure to oxygen and (in particular) ozone
  • The surface of the tire coming into regular contact with water

You should therefore try to avoid these when keeping your tires in storage. Here are some practical steps you can take to make sure that this is the case.

Keep Your Tires Out of Direct Sunlight to Prevent Dry Rot

Frequent exposure to UV is one of the biggest contributors to dry rotting in tires. This is both because UV degrades the oils that keep tires moist, and because the heat from UV increases the evaporation of water from out of the rubber.

If you are storing your vehicle (or loose tires) in an indoor storage space that has no windows, then this alone will ensure that your tires are not exposed to UV. If, however, your vehicle could be in direct sunlight while in storage then it’s worth buying an opaque vehicle covering.

Car covers are not designed to cover the wheels and tires of your car as standard, so buy one that is a size or two too big to ensure that these are fully covered.

Make Sure Tires are Clean Before Long-term Vehicle Storage

Muddy tires can develop dry rot faster than clean tires. This is because as the moisture in mud evaporates from the surface of the tire, it can strip away some of the oils and resins that help keep the tire moist. This is similar to how not drying your hands after you wash them can lead to chapped skin and hangnails around your fingers.

You should therefore clean your tires thoroughly before you put your vehicle into storage. The best way to do this is with warm water and a small amount of car shampoo or dishwashing liquid.

Do not use specialist tire cleaning products to clean your tires before they go into storage. These contain chemicals like petroleum that need to be “ridden out” of tires or otherwise they can dry tires out further.

Avoid Storing Vehicles or Tires in Extreme Heat or Cold

Dry rotting can occur at a much faster rate if tires are kept at temperatures of over 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). If you can find vehicle storage that is climate-controlled, then this can help reduce the likelihood of dry rotting occurring.

Similarly, excessively dry environments or environments that have rapid shifts in temperature (more than 10 degrees Celsius over the course of an hour or so) should also be avoided when deciding where to store your vehicle. Both dryness and rapid swings in temperature can speed up the evaporation process and therefore quicken the dry rotting of tires. If you don’t have the space to store your vehicles safely at home, an indoor vehicle storage unit could be the perfect solution to help prevent dry rot in tires.

Slow Tire Dry Rot With Spare Tire Bags

Since exposure to oxygen can lead to dry rotting, it’s worth keeping any stored spare tires in bags. Ideally, these bags will be airtight, with vacuum-sealed bags being an excellent option for this. Even if you can’t get a hold of vacuum-sealed bags, storing spare tires in large, thick plastic bags, taped up with duct tape, can help reduce the rate of deterioration, including tire dry rot and tire flat spots.

How to Prevent Flat Spots on Tires

A tire flat spot is when a portion of the tire that is in a prolonged period of contact with the ground becomes flat. Usually, flat spots on tires are just temporary, and driving on the tire should bring back its original shape. However, if a tire has been stationary for more than a couple of months, the tire flat spot could stay that way even after driving, and the tire may need to be repaired or replaced.

The best way to avoid flat spots on tires is to remove them from your vehicle if you plan to keep it in storage for more than two months. You can either keep your vehicle mounted on hydraulic jack stands while it is without tires, or you can buy cheap replacement tires (the cheapest come in at under $50 each just to keep on your vehicle while it is in storage).

If you cannot remove the tires from your vehicle, then we recommend that you move your car every two months to make sure that the same portion of the tire is not in contact with the ground for more than this time.

Self Storage Can Help Prevent Tire Flat Spots and Dry Rot

If you want to learn more about how to prevent flat spots on tires, or you simply want to store your vehicle in a way that ensures it stays in top quality condition, we have a variety of vehicle storage options available to you. Questions? Call your nearest location to speak with a friendly, knowledgeable self storage expert who can help you make the right choice for preventing tire dry rot and flat spots on your prized vehicle.