Did you let your car tires sit for an indefinite period? You stored your tires for a long time, and now you wonder about their condition. Be it spare tires or those on your cart; they will get affected over time.
Still, can car tires go bad from sitting?
Car tires can go bad over time, especially six years or older. They have crossed the safety duration in such a case, and you must get them inspected every year. If you see signs like cracks in the sidewalls, worn-out treads, bulges, or blisters, know that your tires have gone bad.
What is the appropriate condition to let your car tires sit? How long can you store the car tires? If you have any of these questions, you are at the right place.
This article will guide you about sitting car tires’ state and the required environment to prolong their life. So get ready for the ride!
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What Happens When You Leave Car Tires Sitting?
Whether you leave your car standing for a prolonged period or store spare tires in the garage, they will change. The tires might lose air pressure, get bubbles, develop flat spots, etc. Resultantly, you will have a bumpy ride along with potential road dangers.
Tire manufacturers mostly recommend you to change your tires after ten years. However, they put the condition that you take the tire for service in its fifth year, followed by annual tire inspections. That is because new tires mostly have a shelf life of 6 years.
One of the best ways to determine whether your car tires are still safe to use is checking the indicator bars. These are tiny marks on the tire’s tread area that indicate its life. These bars are 2/32 inches high, and if your tread bars align with these, you must not use the tire anymore.
That said, the state of your car tires will highly depend on the storage conditions discussed later in this article. Still, here are the possible effects on a vehicle’s tires left sitting for an extended period. Remember that the magnitude of these problems will vary.
Vehicle tires tend to deteriorate when left sitting in the garage or outside. Even if they are new, they will start aging over time and develop problems. These include deflation, warping, rotting, flatness, and more.
When you use the tires again, you will inflate them, and they will be in a usable condition. However, if you see closely, they will not be in the same good state as before. They might develop cracks and blemishes caused due to reactions in the rubber of the tires.
Irrespective of the condition, these tires will not remain completely safe to get on the road. Therefore, after letting them sit in the garage, you must always get your car tires checked before using them.
If you leave the car tires sitting for long, its tube may expand, forming bubbles. It will especially happen in areas where the rubber is too thin and worn out. However, these bubbles are usually too tiny to notice unless a professional dismantles the tire for checking.
That said, you must still check for bubbles, especially on the tires’ sidewalls. Also, do not drive on them until you are sure of their condition. A tire bubble reflects the rotting of a tire’s internal structure or structural integrity.
If you drive around with ruined tires, their state will damage to such an extent that it becomes irreparable. Additionally, there is a possibility that the car tires may blow out when you drive around.
Another common condition of sitting tires is flat-spotting. You will mostly see this in vehicles’ tires left in the same spot for too long. When you leave the fitted tire in one place, the part of the tire touching the ground gets tougher.
The rigid portion of the car tires is known as a flat spot. If your vehicle tire gets this problem, you may have difficulty controlling it on the road. In addition, these tires cause vibration in your vehicle, proving dangerous while in use.
Though you may not be able to inspect them yourself, a professional might be able to recognize the problem. Whether you leave your car parked for a few weeks, months, or years, it is best to take the tires for service.
If you leave the car tires sitting around, they will develop cracks on the internal and external surfaces. These are usually due to warm conditions that lead to the expansion of the tire. As a result of cracks, the steel belts present in the tread come off the tire.
Another reason for the separation of tread and belt is improper maintenance of the tires. If you do not pay attention to these issues, the fatalities can be too drastic. Such tires usually cause a disturbance in the vehicle’s functionality. Worst case scenario, it may result in vehicle roll-overs or crashes.
Factors Affecting the State of Sitting Car Tires
When you leave your car tires sitting in one spot, they will get affected by environmental and storage conditions. Still, before getting to these two categories, you must know that tires stored in distinct ways will have different effects.
Ways of Storage
The way you store your sitting tire or use it before storing it has a considerable impact on the tire’s state. Here are some of them.
Mounted or Not
If you have left your vehicle sitting in the garage, its tires will age faster. However, the tires you did not install and place separately will slowly age or deteriorate. You must remember that they will also age to some extent.
The way you store your spare tires also makes a huge difference. If you inflate a tire and mount it on a wheel, consider it in service. That means it will age the way a running car is aging.
If you place it under the vehicle, the deteriorating process will be faster due to the heat, dust, and other climatic conditions. Also, if you put the tires in your car trunk or another place, they will still age, though slowly.
Your previous usage and care will also affect the condition of your sitting tire. For example, using it without enough air, driving it on rough terrains for long, length of usage, etc., also matter.
If the vehicle tire has previously been repaired, punctured, or damaged, it will ruin faster even while sitting. The same goes for the tire you use daily compared to the one you rarely use.
The climate and environment of your shop or garage can significantly affect the state of your sitting tires. Here are some factors you must keep in mind while storing the tires.
A warmer climate is one of the most significant reasons for damaging rubber tires. When it blends with oxygen, heat causes thermo-oxidative degradation, ruining the rubber and fastening its aging process.
Even the NHTSA states that it will age quicker if you store a car tire in hotter conditions. As a result, the tire will ruin sooner than one kept in a colder climate, whether you use or store it.
Another significant affecting aspect is oxygen, as it ruins the car from inside and outside. The worst part is, oxygen is already present in the tire. It occupies a 21% share in the compressed air of tires. That is why this element acts more adversely than others.
That said, rubber tires contain multiple anti-oxidizing agents to prevent deterioration. Still, the truth is they only slow down the process. Moreover, if oxygen alters the polymer structure of rubber, the tire starts degrading.
If you store the tire in such an area that it receives sunlight, it may age faster. That is because rubber absorbs UV rays as soon as sunlight falls on it. As a result, both natural and synthetic rubber polymers undergo deterioration, known as photodegradation.
Manufacturers are aware of this process, so they apply a layer of carbon black on the tires. It is supposed to absorb maximum sunlight falling on the rubber and convert it into heat, protecting the tire. Still, it only works for so long. After a while, even this shield loses its protective ability.
As a result, if you leave the tire under sunlight for too long, it gets exposed to UV rays. Additionally, even if carbon black converts the light into heat, it is still unsuitable for rubber.
Most quality car tires come with protective compounds such as special waxes and oils to stay safe from the ozone effect. However, they only work when the tire is used, and they can come towards the surface of the rubber.
Therefore, these compounds tend to settle down and lose their worth if you store a tire. Resultantly, ozone affects your car’s tires, and they degrade rapidly. Moreover, if the rubber cracks due to this, the tire gets irreparable.
You can store your car tires for a long time, given you follow a few methods. Storing tires the right way and keeping them protected from environmental conditions will not fasten the aging process of the tires. Resultantly, you will be able to use it for a long time.
So, make sure to place them appropriately to prevent sitting tires from going bad!