Proper Tire Storage Will Extend the Life of RV Tires

“Tires are composed of various types of material and rubber compounds, having performance properties essential to the proper functioning of the tire itself,” says Michelin Tires in their brochure Michelin RV Tires Guide. Chief among these performance properties is flexibility. An assortment of plasticizers and other chemicals are included in the rubber formula to help the tire stay flexible.

“These component properties evolve over time…this evolution depends upon many factors such as weather, storage conditions, and conditions of use,” Michelin notes. A tire gradually loses its flexibility in the presence of damaging factors encountered both outdoors – such as ozone, sunlight (UV light), moisture – and in storage – such as oil and grease.

Storing Tires Off the Vehicle – DO

This advice applies equally to auto, truck, and Class B recreational vehicle tires which are changed seasonally. The best place to store winter or summer tires is an indoor location that is

  • Clean
  • Cool
  • Dry
  • Sunless
  • Away from strong air currents

Tires should be raised off the ground or off an asphalt or cement pad. A wooden shelf or pallet will work well.

Steps for Storing Tires Off the Vehicle

Many tire dealers sell a variety of tire racks to aid in proper storage. They generally provide a base to keep the tires off the ground, a method of keeping the tires aligned so that they are less apt to topple, and proper support to prevent deformation during storage.

  1. Thoroughly clean the tires with soap and water before storing them. Allow to dry thoroughly in a shaded location.
  2. Place each tire in a storage bag (most tire stores will provide opaque polyethylene bags for storing tires) to reduce contact with light and ozone.
  3. Stack tires flat and no more than four high. This will help tires retain their shape.
  4. If stored mounted on rims, tires should be inflated to 10psi (or 15 psi if put into storage warm, as the pressure will drop during winter)

Storing Tires Off the Vehicle – DON’T

Don’t store tires where they may be exposed to

  • moisture
  • oil
  • grease
  • extreme temperatures
  • direct sunlight
  • electric motors or other sources of ozone.

Don’t store tires

  • on or next to highly reflective surfaces such as sand or snow
  • on black asphalt or other surfaces that will absorb solar heat.

Storing Tires On the Vehicle

RV tires are mostly stored on the vehicle. For ideal storage, a vehicle should be placed on blocks so there is no weight on the tires. If this cannot be done, follow these tips for best tire protection:

  1. Unload the vehicle to reduce weight on the tires to a minimum.
  2. Wash the tires with soap and warm water; dry completely before storing and especially before covering the tires.
  3. Ensure that tires are inflated to the recommended operating pressure. (Goodyear recommends going over by 25% provided this does not exceed the maximum.)
  4. Check pressure every two or three months, and again before the vehicle is returned to service.
  5. If the vehicle cannot be blocked up, store it on a surface that is firm, clean (no oil, grease, or moisture), well-drained and level.
  6. Move the vehicle quarterly (except during very cold weather) to prevent flat-spotting (prolonged strain of sidewall and tread deflection) and ozone checking in the bulge area.
  7. If the vehicle is stored outdoors, use tire covers to reduce UV damage.

Conclusion

Proper storage can add to tire life by helping the rubber resist the effects of UV light, ozone, moisture, exposure to oil and grease, and deformation of the tread and sidewall. An occasional half-hour of care can both add extra traveling distance and reduce the chance of future problems.