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I know this is going to sound nuts, but the worst thing to do is store tires. It doesn't matter if they are inflated or deflated, stored in a "cool dark place" etc. When a tire is used, its emollients and oils get heated up and lubricate the rubber. If storing tires, they dry out, the rubber becomes brittle and more prone to failure. There is no magic rubber treatment or storage technique you can do to avoid this.
Ever notice that trailer tires, boat trailers and RV's seem to have a high level of blowouts on the freeway? Many of these vehicles only get used a couple of times a year. Often the owner sees a full tread tire that looks ok, but it may be 7 to 10 years old with only 3 or 4 thousand miles on them. Using a tire is the best thing you can do to keep a tire "lubricated".
Any tire that's over 5 years old has to be considered to be on borrowed time. If you're storing tires because you got a good deal on a set and you're not going to use them for 3 or 4 years, I'd pass on the deal. Ford Motor Co is starting to put expiration dates on tires. Truth is, millions of tires are over 5 years old, don't blow out, work great etc. This is a testament to the engineering and quality that goes into a modern tire. But, if you can afford not to store tires for more than a couple of years, I feel that would be the safest path.
These are not my ideas or theory, I work with tire engineers and consultants that enlightened me. Not too many tire manufacturers want to even get onto this subject because of potential lawsuits, bad press, etc. All you have to do is remember the Firestone blowouts of the late 1970's and the Ford Explorer tire issues a few years back. Everyone remembers the problems, but not the billion of miles of safe travel tires provide on a daily basis.
This is why most if not all tire companies for the past several years have changed their warranty to include a maximum calendar event limitation, where after that date, any and all warranty is void, including mileage, materials and workmanship, etc.
For example, BF Goodrich allows 6 years, where others will limit it to 5 years.
My guess is that BFG has determined that it's possible with distribution, shipment, and dealers not rotating their inventory, that it's possible for a tire to have been sitting around for a year before it actually gets sold.
I've known lots of dealers over the years, and I can tell you that it's possible for some of them to have tires in stock for a lot longer than that, before they get sold.
That's why I'm amazed that some folks will purchase for example, a Goodyear GSA 37/12.50R-16.5 off Ebay, and even though a brand new tire, could be 10 years old, since the tire hasn't been produced in about 4 years, so at a minimum it's going to be that age, and perhaps quite a bit older.
Tires like that, which have been stored, may look good cosmetically, can and will deteriorate very rapidly once put into service, which is the point George was making.
There are production date codes on all tires, and if you know how to read them, it will give you the week and year of manufacture, so it may be something you might want to check out before purchasing a tire from anyone.
Companies may have changed the way in which this information is presented on their tires, but basically it's a 4 digit code located within the DOT mark, where the first two digits are the week of the year and the last two are the year itself.
I.E. 3706 would be the 37th week of 2006 and 0202 would be the second week of 2002.
Many years ago I bought a travel trailer with tires that looked like new, with no visible signs of wear. Hitched it up to the old Jeep I had at the time and decided to pull it up the Apache Trail and the Rim Road. Big mistake. Made it up the Apache Trail OK before all the tires, including the spare, failed. Had to buy all new ones, then headed for the Rim Road. The tire place didn't torque the lug nuts properly so I ended up losing most of them on the Rim Road. Amazingly, I managed to find them all.
Never again will I make the assumption that tires that look good are good.
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