How to Protect Trailer Tires in Winter

Just about everyone knows that tires lose pressure when stored for long periods of time, but that’s not the whole story.

Exposure to harsh elements can really do a number on overall tire condition and tire life. Tires are constructed of organic materials, and sturdy as they may be, they’ll degrade just like everything else organic when left unprotected. The more severe the conditions, the more deterioration that’s likely to occur.

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So, how do you protect trailer tires for winter? Consider this guidance and follow our procedures when stowing a trailer for winter. Doing so will give you the jump on getting rolling with your trailer for many spring seasons to come.

Trailer tire storage options

If you’re on the fence about where to store your trailer, and an enclosed storage area can be arranged, that’s definitely your best option to maintain trailer tire life and condition.

While protective measures can be implemented to protect trailer tires if stored outdoors, in true winter conditions, Old Man Winter will always have an effect.

An enclosed storage area will protect against major causes of tire material degradation – direct precipitation contact (including standing snow, slush and water), ultraviolet light, fluctuating temperatures, and ozone.

Does your buddy with that big garage owe you a favor? Well then, a trailer storage parking space for winter sounds like an appropriate payback.

No debtors to call upon? Here’s what you can do:

A proper scrub & wash

You spent the summer season accumulating miles and collecting road grime. Before storing, be sure to give your tires and wheels a thorough wash, then apply a protective coating.

Find wax and protective tire coating options at just about any auto parts store. Just like wax protects your vehicle’s paint, a protective coating for tires acts as a barrier between your valued tire tread and the elements.

(Be sure to find a quality, proven protective coating product. Not all tire coatings are created equal, and despite the shiny appearance, some may even dry out the tire compound and speed the degradation process. That’s to be avoided!)

Tire and wheel covers

Add another layer of protection with tire and wheel covers. By doing so, you’re further insulating your tires from the elements.

Between the covers and the protective coating on the tires, you’re creating a properly effective barrier to many of the harshest winter elements.

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An example of tire and wheel covers

Lift or elevate tires

Tires are meant to be used. They’re at their best when getting consistently “exercised” with load and rolling motion.

Completely stationary, long-term storage puts tires into an unnatural state, which is a fixed position with all of the trailer weight focused on one part of the tire tread. This can create tire flat spots where the tires become out of round because of the unchanging position. (The combination of tire pressure loss and the fixed position worsens this tire phenomenon.)

Most tire flat spots can be resolved with a resumption of use. However, if stored for long enough a period, the combination effect of degradation and tire flat spots can be difficult to reverse.

So the ideal outdoor trailer storage scenario involves both the protection of the tires and getting those tires elevated to avoid consistent, many month long pressure points. (Lifting a trailer is not the same as jacking up an automobile. Safe trailer lifting methods must be practiced.)

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One way to lift tires

The next best solution is the elevate the trailer tires out of the dirt, grass, or whatever your ground environment with wood blocks, or other hard, clean block options. Lifting the trailer just slightly off of the ground will do the trick. This protocol avoids prolonged contact with messy, freezing and thawing ground materials that will speed the degradation process.

A little push or a pull

If the trailer is resting on the tires – no matter the support surface – give it a little push or pull once in a while. What you’re accomplishing is a transfer of the weight of the trailer onto a different part of the tire tread/contact patch.

Even just a few inches of movement is better than nothing. During a winter thaw, when temperatures are above freezing, is the best time to give the trailer tires the slightest of “workouts.”

Reasonable overinflation

Especially if elevating the trailer tires entirely off of the ground isn’t possible, reasonable overinflation can help to stave off severe flat spots and tire damage. Especially if stored outdoors through sub-freezing winter temperatures, tire PSI loss will absolutely occur. So, it’s a sound idea to reasonably overinflate the trailer tires so that when that PSI drop does occur, your trailer tires will still be in the neighborhood of specification.

Plus about 20% over normal operating PSI is a good general guideline, but be sure not to exceed the maximum recommended PSI, which is indicated on the trailer tire sidewall.

Empty the load

Trailers are typically used as real workhorses, hauling our various toys, heavy objects, and loads. Give your trailer a break during storage – a make the trailer as light as possible before storage, which directly reduces the burden on the tires.

Wheel & tire removal

If you’re potentially prepping your trailer for really prolonged storage, and that winter storage might extend through the spring and summer seasons too, consider wheel and tire removal and storage. Even in cases where storage space is relatively tight, one can usually find the space for four wheels and tires.

Seek out a climate-controlled, cool, dry, dark environment for storage. (See How to store tires for more info.)

A matter of safety

There’s more reason than just sparing the expense of new trailer tires to store and protect your trailer tires properly. If appropriate storage measures are not taken, then tire damage could compromise the trailer’s safety when put back into commission.

Even if you’ve exercised caution and taken the right steps to protect your trailer tires during winter, be sure to ease back into trailer use once spring rolls around. Check your PSI and reinflate as necessary, give each trailer tire a thorough look for signs of degradation like dry rot, and generally exercise caution before getting back underway. Your first trailer use of the season should always be exploratory, without load, and just to make sure you’re all systems go.

Have questions about protecting your trailer tires through winter, or want to discuss anything trailer tires? Give us a call at 866-961-8668.

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