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QUESTION: When storing winter tires, logic suggests that a cool basement is a better location than a frequently overheated in the summer garage. Similarly, summer or all-season tires seemingly would fare better stored in an unheated garage. However, which is better for tires on rims: stacked flat or standing on their tread?


ANSWER: In addition to heat, another significant factor in storing tires and prolonging tire life is light.

Tires should be stored in a cool, dark, dry spot - a climate-controlled basement is better than an unheated garage or outdoor site like a shed.

Keep them away from direct sunlight and be watchful for electric motors near the storage site, such as those on furnaces. They emit ozone which is very harmful to tires.

The experts actually suggest enclosing each tire individually in a dark, airtight bag such as a garbage bag and sucking out excess air with a vacuum cleaner or other device before sealing the bag shut with tape.

Before putting the tire in a bag, clean it well with soap, water and a brush to get rid of brake dust and other contaminants - pay particular attention to the wheel during this process if you are storing the tires on the wheel.

It is important that you remove all moisture before putting the tires in storage. Most tire manufacturers also suggest you refrain from applying any tire dressing when storing tires. And finally store them on their sides, rotating if left for more than a few months.

Don't forget that tires have a certain useful life regardless of whether they are stored or how. Most believe that life to be in the area of five years or less in some cases, regardless of mileage or appearance.

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QUESTION: My wife is complaining about a vibration in her car. When I drive it, I don't feel a thing beyond a very slight wiggle at the wheel at highway speed.

We are retired and on a tight budget so I am reluctant to spend money on something that may not be absolutely necessary - or even curable. I have a neighbour who says he still has a balance machine in his garage. It has a bubble thing on top and he says he can balance my wife's tires for me if I take them off the car.

What do you suggest?


ANSWER: I suggest a visit to a proper tire shop for a dynamic balance job.

Tires are the single most important safety feature on a vehicle. They are the final factor in determining how you stop, turn or go. Even if everything else on the vehicle is in perfect shape, a tire problem can negate all of that.

Your neighbour's machine is a relic from the past and, while there is a slim chance he might help, there is a greater one that he might make the situation worse.

Those static machines depend on gravity. The theory is that if there is a heavy spot it will consistently be at the bottom after you spin the tire/wheel several times and wait for it to come to rest. If you apply a weight to the opposite side, the problem is solved. NOT!

More modern and effective dynamic balancing also identifies and corrects side-to-side imbalance by applying weight to each side of a wheel/tire to ensure they are equalized. With this method, tires are spun at high speed while sensors measure the forces causing the imbalance. These machines identify the amount and angle of imbalance.

This is the type of balance problem usually associated with a slight shimmy or vibration such as you have identified. Radial tires should always be dynamically balanced.

You might be able to narrow down the number of tires/wheels to be checked since you felt the vibration through the steering wheel. That would indicate a front wheel. You'd probably feel it through your bum if it were a rear wheel.

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