Project Spotlight: Degradation Prevention for Long-Term Tire Storage Sustainment

Improving Tire Durability in Storage with PPG Protective Coatings

A serious problem affecting vehicle maintenance operations is the degradation that tires and rim sets undergo when kept in long-term storage. “For years,” the automotive web publication Edmunds reports, “people have relied on a tire’s tread depth to determine its condition. But the rubber compounds in a tire deteriorate with time, regardless of the condition of the tread.”[1] This problem affects car, truck, bus, and tractor tires, as well as the tires the U.S. Army places on tactical vehicles.

Oxidation and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light degrade tire materials, producing a web of cracks that compromise their strength and durability. Studies by Ford and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration find that tires in storage degrade at 70-80% of the rate as tires on the road. There are no processes available for repairing this type of damage. If it’s caught, affected tires are thrown out and replaced at significant cost. If it isn’t, they’re unwittingly placed on vehicles and become a hazard to drivers once on the road.

NCMS member PPG is creating a solution, testing durable coatings that can protect stored tires from UV and oxidative damage. An effective coating will reduce maintenance costs by obviating the need to replace degraded tires and by ensuring that tires have experienced minimal degradation before they’re used, maximizing their longevity. Once the formulation for an optimal coating is designed, it will be applicable to all wheeled military vehicles, but also, by extension, to commercial bus and truck tires, which are similar in composition.

UV and oxidative degradation are safety issues that affect tires at every stage after production, whether they’re sitting in a distributor’s warehouse, in a garage on an unused vehicle, or in a military base or freight company’s stock of spares. Minimizing it would be a massive boon to mechanics and fleet operators and to the wellbeing of every American on the road.

[1] Ronald Montoya, “How Old – and Dangerous – Are Your Tires?,” Edmunds, July 15, 2014,