Storing Winter Tires

Could it be true? It looks like winter may finally be behind us! As thoughts turn to warmer weather and Springtime, there is something you may not be thinking of, but probably should consider – your winter tires.

An important part of tire maintenance, proper tire storage is typically overlooked. Storing your winter tires the right way will keep them looking great and performing well.

Tires should be stored in a clean, cool and dry place. Keep them away from sunlight and be sure they are not exposed to strong air currents. It is true that the rubber used to make tires is engineered to resist the effects of sunlight, ozone, and water, however these elements still cause wear. Seasonal storage time provides a great opportunity to minimize exposure to these stresses and give your tires a break.

The following are some storage tips to keep in mind:

  • Tires stored while mounted on rims should be inflated to 10 psi.
  • Tires that are put in storage during warm weather should be inflated to about 15 psi to offset the pressure drop during cold weather months.
  • Cover or wrap tires for storage. Many types of covers are available from auto parts retailers.
  • If tires are mounted on rims, they should be stacked four deep underneath a tire cover.
  • Tires should be stored upright and under a cover if they are mounted on rims, rather than stacked or suspended from the ceiling.
  • Tires with whitewall or raised white lettering should be stored with the whitewall or raised white lettering facing each other to avoid black rubber staining.
  • It is best not to store tires outside, but it is unavoidable, keep them raised off the storage surface.

Warm Up Your Car in Winter?

Dear Tracy,

In the winter, my roommate  always “warms up” her car for about 15 minutes before driving anywhere. This seems like a huge waste of gas to me, especially for someone who struggles to pay her bills. But she insists her dad told her she should never drive in winter without warming up, or she will damage the engine. Is true that you need to warm up your car in winter?

Sydney J.

Dear Sydney,

Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to warm up your car before driving it. Warming it up ahead of time can help to defrost the windows and clear them for visibility, but the engine does not require a warm up.

According to the Car Care Council, warming up, or idling longer that 30 seconds is unnecessary. A better way to warm up an engine is to drive slowly as you begin your trip. In other words, as you pull out of your driveway or parking lot, do not gun the engine. Just take it easy for the first few minutes as you head down the road.

Having said that, it is important to note that your roommate’s dad is not totally off base. Cars used to require warming up in the days of carburetor fuel systems. Today’s cars are equipped with fuel-injection technology, computer systems, and thinner synthetic oils. These new developments make warm ups unnecessary in newer cars.

Some folks may prefer to warm up their car anyway, so that it will be nice and toasty when they climb inside. While this is understandable, warming your car does have some drawbacks. Wasting gas, is one that you mentioned. Idling reduces fuel economy. Idling can also cause excessive wear or stress on engine components, such as cylinders, spark plugs, and the exhaust system. Shivering behind the wheel for a brief period could indeed save your roommate gas and money, and also extend the life of her car.

Another reason why warming up is not such a great idea is pollution.  A vehicle that idles for more than 30 seconds increases air pollution. It is easy to underestimate the impact of one car, but together, we can make a significant reduction in air pollution.