The winters here in Ottawa can be intense. Every year as the fall draws to a close, those of us living in the Capital Region know we’ve got to get ourselves ready for a blast of cold that many people in Southern Ontario just can’t comprehend. That said, with a little Canadian ingenuity, we’ve not only learned to handle it but to thrive and even transform our little bit of the country into a winter wonderland.
The trick has always been in managing the things we can control. And the same is true when it comes to your car. Of course, you want to make sure your vehicle is ready to go. Having the fluids topped up, emergency kit ready, and seasonal tires changed are simple ways to make the winter safer for you and your family. However, one of the best ways to guarantee a smooth winter is to ensure your summer tires are protected during the colder seasons. While you’re off, driving through the snow, slush and ice, you want to be sure your summer wheels are protected and ready to go when the warmer weather starts to make a comeback.
As tire professionals, we believe the best way to protect your off-season wheels is to keep them comfortably stowed in a properly maintained facility that manages temperature and humidity. This way, you guarantee that your tires are going to last as long as possible. And, for a small storage fee, you can push the cost of replacement tires out as far as possible.
However, if you decide to store your tires yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First and foremost, it’s critical that your summer tires not be exposed to the elements. An Ottawa winter’s intense cold and precipitation can wreak havoc on the rubber compounds used in most summer tires. For this reason, we warn customers never to store their off-season wheels outdoors, whether that means under the deck, under a tarp, or even in a backyard shed. The cold air and moisture will very quickly start to rob your summer tires of their life expectancy and has the potential to make them unsafe when you need them to perform. Even your garage may not be the best place for your summer wheels to spend the winter if it’s not insulated. While it offers much better protection than leaving them outside, it’s often too cold for the rubber, and considerable breakdown will occur. If you happen to have an adequately climate-controlled garage or a designated space in your basement, those are likely to be better home storage options. Any place that can take advantage of a proper HVAC system means the rubber can be kept at a relatively consistent temperature while it rests.
Of course, it’s also essential that wherever you are keeping your off-season tires, they are away from anything emitting ozone. A byproduct of many household essentials such as your furnace, central vacuum, or even a sump-pump unit, ozone exposure will slowly work to breakdown the finely tuned rubber compounds in your tires.
Once you’ve found the right spot to keep your summer wheels, it’s critical that you store them properly to ensure they are ready to go next season.
The first step is to give them a proper cleaning. You want to make sure that all the grime built up from the summer season gets washed away. While on the road, debris and sand is regularly worked in and pushed off. Although once the wheels are in storage, whatever grit remains will sit and start to eat at the tires. All you need to get the job done is warm soap with water and a tire brush. If your summer tires are staying on their rims, it’s also a good idea to clean those as well with a wheel cleaning solution.
Once the tires have been cleaned and allowed to dry, you want to package them up in airtight bags. Not only will this keep them from picking up any dirt in storage, but the bags will also help keep the vital lubricating oils in the rubber compound from evaporating and drying out the tire. To ensure your wheels stay protected, you also want to be sure to get as much air out of the bag as possible. Using an air pump with a reverse option is a great idea right before you seal the bag.
The next thing to consider is whether to store your tires sanding up or lying down. How you position the tires in storage is essential, but which option you should select depends entirely on whether or not they are on rims or not. If you’ve decided to purchase a second set of wheels, meaning you can leave your summer tires mounted on the metal, then you always want to store them flat. You want to keep the pile low to the floor to prevent them from toppling over, but be sure place them on a clean surface and not directly on the ground. As you stack the wheels, separate each one with a piece of sturdy cardboard to keep them spaced and prevent them from rubbing. Of course, mounted wheels can also be hung from hooks without any issue if that works better in your storage space.
On the other hand, if you are using the same set of rims for both your winter and summer tires, meaning the rubber comes off the wheel for storage, they need to be stood up upright in a rack. Unmounted tires should never be piled on each other as the weight will gradually warp the rubber. The same is true when it comes to hanging them. Not only will the hook damage the tire structure, but gravity will slowly distort the shape and shorten their lifespan. As tire experts, we always recommend having a second set of rims. While it involves a small upfront investment, it can go a long way to extending the tires’ lifespan. Not to mention, using low-cost steel wheels through the winter means that your beautiful summer spokes look their best when it’s time to shine.
Storing in A Climate Controlled Garage
Purchasing a quality set of winter or summer tires for your vehicle is an investment, and you want to make sure you are getting the most out of it and not having to replace your treads before their time. However, more than that, good winter tires are probably the most critical safety feature on your car and poorly stored, they start to lose their effectiveness. At Sipan Tire and Rim, we charge $70 per season to keep your summer or winter wheels appropriately stored. We ensure they are properly cleaned, bagged, and protected. And, we maintain them in a facility beyond the elements. If you’re concerned that your home storage may not be up to the task, we’re here to help.
If you want to learn more about our seasonal storage options or need further advice about making your home storage the best it can be, get in touch. Our team of dedicated automotive professionals have years of experience helping customers maintain their tires, and they love to talk shop.
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