Tire Dry Rot: Causes & Prevention
Visible cracking in the tire’s sidewall or tread—dry rot—happens when the rubber compounds in the tire break down. Many things can cause tire dry rot, including exposure to heat, sunlight, chemicals, and other environmental factors.
Dry rot can cause cracks on the tire’s surface, increasing the chance of a blowout while driving. This condition is most often seen in tires that are not used frequently, such as spare tires, tires installed in infrequently driven vehicles, and tires regularly exposed to extreme temperatures or sunlight.
What Causes Tires to Dry Rot?
Tires naturally degrade over time. However, you can hasten the process by not caring for your tires. Common causes of dry rot include:
- Excess exposure to ultraviolet rays (especially when you’re not frequently driving the vehicle)
- Low tire pressure
- Storing tires in a location with high temperatures
- Keeping tires near battery chargers, electric motors, welding equipment, generators, and other sources that generate ozone
- Parking the vehicle for long periods
How to Prevent Dry Rot on Tires
All tires eventually dry rot, though they shouldn’t rot within their average lifespan of 6 to 8 years. You can lessen the chance of tires dry rotting quicker than usual by observing the following:
- Keep tires out of direct sunlight.
- Don’t store tires in extremely dry or wet conditions. Both factors can cause tires to rot faster if you don’t drive the vehicle.
- Never let tires set while they are attached to a vehicle. Remove the tires and store them properly if you don’t expect to drive the vehicle for a few months.
- If you can’t remove the tires, try to drive the vehicle at least once every few weeks. If you can’t remove the tires and you also don’t expect to use the vehicle for months, we recommend putting on tire covers.
- Store tires out of direct sunlight and preferably in plastic bags. Before putting tires into storage, make sure they are clean and dry.
- If possible, store the tires where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much.
Replace Dry Rot Tires at Little Wolf Automotive in Antigo, WI
As soon as you notice dry rot forming on the tires, it’s one sign that you immediately need a tire replacement. These tires are not safe to drive, even on surface streets. They could blow out at any time since the rubber compounds are compromised.
If you only see dry rot on one tire but all four were stored the same way, replace all four. The others will likely have dry rot, too, though not as bad if you can’t see the obvious cracks.