Radial tire storage tips

May 1, 2017 | By Staff


Each winter my antique cars sit three to four months in a heated garage without being driven. Should I be concerned about their modern radial tires developing flat spots? I have been rolling them about a foot in one direction every couple of weeks and then starting over after four feet. Is this good? I have seen inexpensive wheeled supports with a curved bottom at Harbor Freight. Is that a better solution?


Radial tires aren’t as likely to get a “set,” or flat spot in them as the old nylon bias-ply tires did from sitting out the winter without being rotated, but when they do get a flat spot it is sometimes harder to work out. However, a little proper care will extend their life and your touring pleasure.

As for those car movers from Harbor Freight, they are great for pushing a car around in a confined space, but they would impose rounded spots on your tires rather than flat ones. I don’t think they would do much to extend the life of your tires.

The best way I know of for preserving your classic’s tires during long-term storage is to put the car up on jack stands to take the weight off of them. You would want to let a little air out of them as well, and then wipe them down with a good tire dressing. And, especially if your tires are rare and expensive, you might want to cover them. Shrouds can be stitched together out of waterproof vinyl at a local upholstery shop that will limit deterioration from air pollution and sunlight, which dries them out and makes them stiff, and cracks them over time.

Also, if you are willing to go that extra mile, you can help preserve new tires and rims by having them filled with nitrogen. That way water won’t condense out in them and damage rims and rubber. This will cost a bit, but the tires will lose less pressure and stay in good condition longer.

If you do not lift the car off the ground during storage, make sure the tires are fully inflated in order to minimize flatspotting. Also, the fact that your classics are in a temperature-controlled garage is good. Extreme cold will cause tires to become stiff and inflexible while they are cold, and that will have a deleterious effect long-term. In Northern Canada and Alaska, airplanes that are equipped with rubber tires sometimes cannot land in extreme cold because doing so will damage the tires.