In the United States, approximately every seven seconds a vehicle tire gets punctured. Besides these mishaps, tires that are not properly aligned and rotated can wear faster, and are more prone to blowouts. Having a spare tire is essential for any vehicle, but cars and trucks with external spares will need to extend some extra care towards keeping their Hummer, Ford Bronco, Toyota RAV4, or Jeep tire covers in good condition. Spares exposed to the elements can become warped and damaged by the sun, wind, rain, and even animals. Many vehicle owners are good about keeping their spare covered, and some even choose to do so with custom tire covers that express their personality. If you have a custom cover you can take some extra steps to keep it clean and looking like new while it protects your spare. How to Keep It Clean First, minimize how much cleaning you have to do by choosing a quality spare tire cover. Marine grade vinyl is an excellent material as it is mildew resistant and durable. To clean a tire cover, you should periodically wipe it down with water and a soft cloth. Mild dish soap and a soft bristle brush can be used in stickier situations, and there are special vinyl cleaners that are available if your stains are extensive. Things to Look Out For Spare tire covers, like anything else on the outside of your car, are subject to wear and tear. You can protect your spare tire cover from flying off during a storm or on the highway by using a strong rope to secure the cover to the tire. If theft is a concern, then look for custom tire covers that have security grommets or other locking mechanisms. Animals will find a way inside tire covers no matter how tight they may be. This means that when you need your spare, you might find that snakes, birds, or even mice have made a nice home for themselves in there. You should periodically check for animal activity and carefully relocate any unwanted residents. Don’t Forget the Tire Inside It is important to remember that tires do have life expectancies, though no official expiration dates, and over time they can start to deteriorate. Check periodically that there is no mold growth or other unpleasantness lurking beyond the spare tire cover, and consider following NHTSA recommendations to replace tires that are between six and 10 years old. Remember these tips for keeping your spare tire cover clean, and the tire inside in good condition. If you have purchased a custom tire cover, then it is especially important to keep an eye on how the cover holds up, both to protect the spare inside, and to maintain the tire cover in good condition for ongoing enjoyment. More.