Tire wear is the unavoidable nemesis of all car owners.
However, there are ways to battle against one sneaky villain — tire dry rot.
If you’re eager to learn how to keep tires from dry rotting, we’ve got your back!
Heads up: If the dry rotting has become visibly noticeable on your tires, it’s best to replace them before they cause any additional damage and threaten your road safety. But if the dry rotting hasn’t begun and you’re looking for preventive tips, there are steps you can take to prolong your tire life.
This Article Contains:
- How to Keep Tires from Dry Rotting: Cars in Regular Use
- How to Keep Tires from Dry Rotting: Cars in Storage
- 4 FAQs Related to Dry Rotting
How to Keep Tires From Dry Rotting: Cars in Regular Use
Here are some ways to prevent premature dry rotting of tires in regular use:
1. Conduct Regular Inspections
Inspect your tires every month to look for any early signs of tire sidewall or tread rotting.
While doing so, look for small cracks, discoloration, bulges, or unnatural marks. The earlier you spot such signs, the better your chances of preventing excessive damage.
2. Avoid Using Harmful Cleaning Products
While a tire protectant can make your tires look great, it can do more harm than good.
Using a petroleum-based tire protectant can interfere with the oxidation and weathering agent (protective wax) present in the rubber compound of your tires. This can result in cracks and dry rotting.
Tip: If you want to use a cleaning agent, opt for a water-based solution. A few tire manufacturers recommend applying a protective wax (tire shine) on the tire surface once a month.
3. Ensure Proper Tire Pressure
Another common cause of cracks or a dry rot tire is driving with an underinflated tire.
An underinflated tire can put unnecessary stress on the tire rubber and generate excessive heat. This can result in severe cracks and even a blowout. Air can also escape through the cracks of underinflated tires, making it difficult to maintain inflation pressure.
Tip: To prevent tire rot, ensure your tires are inflated to the levels recommended by your car and tire manufacturer. Also, get your inflation pressure checked every month to increase your tire durability.
We’ve talked about caring for tires that are used often.
What about tires going into storage for some time?
How to Keep Tires From Dry Rotting: Cars in Storage
If you’re going for a long holiday or won’t be using your vehicle for a while, protect your tires from dry rotting with the following steps:
1. Keep Tires Out of Direct Sunlight
Prolonged UV exposure from sunlight is one of the leading causes of tire dry rot.
UV exposure or UV rays can degrade the oils and resins that keep the tires’ rubber compound soft. If your car stays parked in direct sunlight, these oils can leach out from the tires, causing them to dry rot.
To protect tires from dry rotting, park your car in a garage or carport. You could also use a weatherproof cover (ensuring it’s long enough to cover the tires) or invest in covers made specifically for tires.
Likewise, to prevent tire dry rot, store your vehicle far from ozone generating sources like electric motors, battery chargers, generators, or welding equipment. Ozone (O3) causes the polymer chains of your tire rubber to break down, creating sidewall cracks.
2. Move Your Vehicle At Least Once a Month
Tires need to flex their rubber for the protective wax to reach the tire surface and prevent cracks.
Even if you don’t need to go anywhere, driving it for a few miles once a month can help prevent dry rot. This also applies to vintage cars, trailer tires, and RV tires.
3. Remove Tires from Your Vehicle if Storing for a Longer Duration
Dry rot and flat spots are more likely to occur and worsen if your tires hold up weight in a stationary position for longer periods. If you’ll be storing your vehicle for more than three months and won’t get the opportunity to move it at all, remove the tires from your car and keep them separately.
You can station your vehicle on hydraulic jack stands or replace your tires with older or second-hand spare tires that aren’t as dear to you as your current ones.
4. Clean and Dry Your Tires Before Storing Them
Dirty or muddy tires are more prone to dry rot. The moisture in the mud will eventually evaporate and strip away some of the oil from your tires along with it, leaving you with a cracked tire.
A simple fix to prevent dry rot is to clean the tire surface before storing them away. You can use any mild dish soap and a washcloth for the job. Remember to rinse the tires thoroughly with water and wipe them dry before storing them.
Tip: After cleaning, apply a few drops of water-based tire dressing (tire shine) to cover the entire tire surface. However, do this only if your tire manufacturer recommends it.
5. Store Loose Tires In Airtight Bags
Like UV rays, oxygen is another contributor to tire dry rot. If you’re removing your tires for storage or need to store spare tires, keep them in airtight bags to prevent oxidation.
To prevent tires from dry rotting, you can either invest in special tire bags or use any vacuum-sealed bag. Do this for your RV and trailer tires too.
6. Maintain a Constant Storage Temperature
Temperatures above 68°F (20°C) and below 45°F (7°C) can hasten the tire dry rot. Rapid temperature fluctuations over a short period can also worsen the rubber rotting.
To avoid ending up with a cracked tire, store them in a climate-controlled and humidity-controlled space (excessively dry weather can also promote dry rot.)
Now you know how to prevent tire dry rot. Let’s answer some dry rotting related questions.
4 FAQs Related to Dry Rotting
Here are answers to some common questions other car owners have about dry rot:
1. What Is Dry Rotting?
Tire dry rot or tire sidewall weathering is the damage to the tire rubber that loses its protective resin covering, resulting in cracks on the tire tread and sidewalls.
Some of the common factors that cause tire rot are:
- Excessive UV exposure
- Ozone exposure
- Low tire pressure
- Storing tires at extremely high temperatures
- Keeping the tires in a stationary position for too long
- Storing a vehicle with any heavy load (especially in RV tires)
2. What Does a Dry Rotted Tire Look Like?
Here are some telltale signs of a dry rotting tire:
- Hard and brittle appearance of the tire rubber
- Small cracks on the tire sidewall
- Cracks on the tire tread pattern
3. How Long Will My Tires Last Before Dry Rotting?
There’s no fixed timeline for tire dry rotting.
How soon you’ll have dry rotted tires depends on the duration and intensity of exposure to the above-mentioned conditions. Other environmental and driving factors also play a role here.
However, according to tire manufacturers, tires have an average lifespan of ten years. You should ideally replace your tires after that, even if there are no signs of dry rotting or tire failure.
4. Is It Safe To Drive With a Dry Rotting Tire?
No. Sidewall cracking can result in low tire pressure and tire failure, making it almost impossible to drive.
If you absolutely must drive a car with dry rot tires, it should be on your way to the mechanic to get a new tire.
Don’t let tire dry rot deflate your driving experience. When it comes to protecting your tires from the dreaded dry rot, remember that prevention is key. Simple steps, such as regular inspections, proper storage, and maintaining optimal tire pressure, can prevent dry rot tires and ensure they stay in excellent condition for longer.
And if you need help with a quick tire inspection or replacement — contact AutoNation Mobile Service.
We’re an accessible mobile auto repair service available seven days a week, offering a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty on all repairs.
Get in touch with us to replace a rotted tire with a new tire or to get any tire service!