Should tires be stored flat or upright?

When it comes to proper tire storage, one of the most common questions that arises is whether tires should be placed flat or upright. There are advantages and disadvantages to both storage methods, so determining the best option depends on your specific needs and setup.

The Case for Storing Tires Flat

Storing tires flat, or horizontally, has several potential benefits:

  • Weight distribution – Stacking tires upright puts a lot of concentrated weight and pressure on the bottom tires. Storing tires flat distributes the weight more evenly across all the tires.
  • Space efficiency – Flat storage allows you to fit more tires in the same amount of floor space compared to upright storage.
  • Stability – Flat tires are less likely to fall over or roll away than upright tires.
  • Inspection – It’s easier to inspect tires when they are lying flat rather than stacked vertically.
  • Loading/unloading – Flat tires can be slid on and off shelves or racks, which is often easier than lifting upright tires on and off a stack.

Flat storage is common in many professional tire shops, dealerships, and storage facilities. The even weight distribution and space efficiency make this method ideal for storing large quantities of tires.

The Case for Storing Tires Upright

While flat storage has its perks, upright tire storage also offers some advantages:

  • Space saving – Although you fit less tires per square foot, upright storage takes up less floor space overall.
  • Support – The sidewalls are not weight bearing in this position, which removes pressure and stress.
  • Organization – Groupings of tire models, brands, or sizes are easier to separate when stored upright.
  • First in, first out – Rotating stock and managing inventory can be simpler with upright stacks.
  • Shelving versatility – Vertical storage works for basic tire racks, fixed shelving, modular systems, etc.

Upright storage is great for homeowners, automotive hobbyists, and operations with limited space to store extra tires. The compact storage footprint and visual organization makes this a convenient option where floor area is at a premium.

Key Considerations for Tire Storage

When deciding between flat vs. upright tire storage, keep these key factors in mind:

  • Quantity – Flat storage fits more tires in the same footprint. Upright storage takes up less floor space overall.
  • Duration – Long term storage sees more benefit from flat’s even weight distribution. Short term storage causes less tire distortion upright.
  • Tire type – Performance tires and wheels are heavier, so flat storage helps avoid bottom tire damage.
  • Accessibility – Upright makes it easier to pull specific tires out of a stack quickly.
  • Inspection needs – Flat position allows fuller visibility of tire treads and sidewalls.
  • Shelving/rack system – Flat storage requires enough depth for tires to lay flat. Upright can work with shallower shelves.
  • Climate – Tires stored upright are more impacted by environmental factors like sunlight and humidity.

There are convincing benefits to both storage methods. Review the considerations above based on your specific tire inventory and storage space constraints.

Best Practices for Tire Storage

To maximize tire life and performance, follow these best practices whether storing tires flat or upright:

  • Keep tires away from direct sunlight, which can degrade rubber over time
  • Avoid excess moisture and damp storage conditions
  • Maintain proper air pressure in each tire, rechecking every 1-2 months
  • Store tires away from ozone-emitting devices like electric motors and welding equipment
  • Clean tires before storage to prevent thread corrosion from road salts, oils, etc.
  • Place tires on surfaces/shelves that are clean, smooth, and dry
  • Avoid contact with hydrocarbon-based fluids like gasoline, motor oil, brake fluids, etc.
  • Check for any alignment, balance, or rotation needs before storage
  • Rotate tire position/orientation periodically if stored long term
  • Inspect tires every 1-2 months for any damage or deterioration

Proper maintenance and care will prolong the life and performance of your tires in storage. Consult a tire professional if you notice any issues.

The Bottom Line

Here is a quick summary of the flat vs. upright tire storage decision:

Storage Method Benefits Drawbacks Best For
  • Even weight distribution
  • Maximizes space
  • More stable
  • Takes up more floor space
  • Harder to access specific tires
Long term storage of large quantities
  • Saves floor space
  • Allows easier access
  • Simplifies organization
  • Uneven weight on bottom tires
  • Less space efficient
  • Risk of falling over
Short term storage or small inventory

There is no universally superior method. Choose the option that best suits your specific tire storage needs and setup.

Some final tips:

  • Inspect tires regularly during storage for any damage or issues
  • Clean tires before placing into storage
  • Maintain proper inflation pressure in stored tires
  • Keep tires away from heat, sunlight, and moisture during storage
  • Consider tire rotation needs before placing into long term storage

Proper storage and care will help ensure your tires last as long as possible!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it bad to store tires upright?

Storing tires upright is not necessarily bad, but it can lead to some potential issues compared to flat storage. The main concerns with upright tire storage are:

  • Uneven weight distribution – All the pressure and weight is concentrated on the bottom tires.
  • Increased risk of falling over – Vertical stacks are less stable overall.
  • Sidewall distortion – The sidewall has to support more weight upright vs lying flat.
  • Environmental exposure – More surface area is exposed to light, humidity, etc.

With proper racks or shelving, checking tire pressure, and rotating tires, these concerns can be minimized. For short term storage needs, upright storage is often completely fine.

How long can tires be stored upright?

There is no definitive time limit for how long tires can be safely stored upright. However, longer term upright storage increases the risks of tire damage and deterioration over time. General guidelines include:

  • Less than 1 month – Minimal increased risks
  • 1-6 months – Acceptable with proper tire rotation
  • 6-12 months – Increased risk of sidewall damage
  • 1+ years – Recommended to store tires flat instead

Check tires regularly when stored upright for over 6 months. Look for any cracks, flattened spots, and other damage. Rotate tire positions if possible.

Should I store tires on their side or tread?

When storing tires flat, they can be placed either on their tread or their side. There are pros and cons to each approach:

  • Tread down – Helps maintain tire shape. Makes it easier to see tread for inspection. Keeps sidewalls clean.
  • Side down – Distributes weight more evenly. Minimizes flat spots on tread. Keeps tread clean and protected.

For long term storage, placing tires on their side is recommended to avoid flat spots on the tread. However, tires can be safely stored for shorter durations tread down as well.

What is the proper way to stack tires?

If storing tires in a vertical stack, follow these guidelines for proper stacking:

  • Place on sturdy, smooth shelves or racks designed to hold tires
  • Start with the largest, heaviest tires on bottom
  • Stack same tire models/sizes together
  • Alternate tire direction to distribute weight
  • Keep stack height under 5-6 feet maximum
  • Never stack tires on their bead or tread only

Improper stacking places excessive pressure on sidewalls and risks tires falling over. Take care to stack tires securely and evenly distribute weight in the stack.

What is the ideal temperature to store tires?

Ideal tire storage temperature is generally around 15°C to 27°C (60°F to 80°F). Key considerations include:

  • Avoid freezing temperatures – can cause rubber cracking
  • Minimize high heat – speeds up tire aging and deterioration
  • Moderate, consistent temperatures are best
  • Indoor storage is recommended
  • Avoid direct sunlight on stored tires

Hot or cold conditions can accelerate tire dry rot and damage. An enclosed, climate controlled space is optimal for maintaining proper storage temperatures.


Deciding between flat vs. upright tire storage depends on your specific space, inventory size, duration of storage, and other factors. Both methods can work well when following basic best practices – proper shelving/racks, rotating tires, maintaining inflation, inspecting regularly, and storing in proper conditions.

The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Assess your unique needs and setup to determine if horizontal or vertical storage makes the most sense for you. With careful tire maintenance and storage, you can help maximize the lifespan and performance of your tire inventory.

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