Tire maintenance & safety

Dry Rot Tires: How to spot it & avoid dangerous and expensive tire problems

dry rot on a tire
Last updated 11/11/2022 - Originally published 9/22/2020
Written by SimpleTire

Regular tire maintenance is vital to ensure the longevity of the tires and reliable performance, especially if you live in challenging weather conditions. While typical tire maintenance includes checking air pressure and rotating the tires every 5,000 to 7,000 miles, there is another aspect that is often overlooked.

Do you know dry rot tires, what causes them, and how to look for them and prevent them from happening? Dry rot in tires is very common and this is caused by the organic growth of rot in the tire. This rot does not spread from one tire to another but can happen to any number of tires. Dry rot in tires is also called sidewall cracking, and is a common condition that causes hairline cracks along the tread and sidewall. Let’s understand everything there is to know about dry rot in tires.

What Causes Dry Rot?

You might have several questions like ‘how long before tires dry rot?’, ‘how to fix dry rotted tires?’ or ’how to tell if a tire is dry rotted?’ But before we answer these questions, let’s first understand what causes dry rot.

Dry rot can happen due to several reasons and is a normal condition. However, it can be prevented by taking care of the tires and avoiding the following practices that can cause dry rot.

  • Corrosive or abrasive chemicals such as motor oil, industrial cleaning agents, or any pool treatment chemicals
  • Excessive exposure to direct sunlight and UV rays
  • Low and freezing temperature
  • High temperatures
  • Exposure to ozone from electrical equipment
  • A long period of disuse
  • Improper maintenance such as underinflation

All of the above-mentioned reasons can cause dry rot in tires, and it is vital to avoid all of the reasons mentioned above and follow proper practices to avoid dry rot.

Once dry rot sets in, you only have some time to get it fixed by a professional before it sets in permanently and requires you to change the tire. Let’s now talk about how to spot minor tire dry rot.

How To Spot Dry Rot?

As mentioned earlier, tire dry rot is also called sidewall cracking as it is primarily characterized by visible cracks on the sidewall. If your tire is starting to dry rot, you can see these warning signs:

  • Brittleness: Dry rot causes your tire to become dry as the essential oil leaks out of the tire from the cracks. You can see that the tires might appear more brittle and the visible signs of rubber breaking.
  • Cracks: Another common sign of dry rot are small cracks on the edges of your tire tread. These cracks can compromise the handling performance while driving. You can also observe these cracks on the sidewall in an isolated area around the hubcap.
  • Color Fade: As the tire gets infected by dry rot, it starts to fade in color and the tire might appear grayer than its original black color.

If you see any or all of these signs on your tire, you should immediately get it checked by a professional as in the worst-case scenario, your tire may blow out under pressure while driving. If the dry rot is just setting in, the professional can attempt tire dry rot repair.

But it is also essential to take some precautionary measures to prevent dry rot from setting in. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to prevent dry rot.

How To Prevent Dry Rot?

Now that we know how tire dry rot can happen and how to check for it, let’s take a look at some of the measures you can take to prevent dry rot.

One of the best and most recommended ways to prevent dry rot is to install new high-quality tires. It is not advisable to install used tires as they do not pass quality checks and can be unsafe for you and your vehicle. Moreover, it is difficult to check for signs of dry rot unless they present themselves in the form of cracks while driving.

You can check out the collection of tires at SimpleTire and get them installed at SimpleTire authorized dealers available in your area. SimpleTire offers a range of tires for SUVs, sedans, pick-up trucks, semi-trucks, and so on.

Apart from the tire replacement, here are some ways to prevent tire dry rot.

  • Avoid all of the activities that can cause dry rot as listed above
  • Get your tires checked regularly by a professional for any signs of deterioration
  • Keep the air pressure in your tires as advised by the manufacturer
  • Change the tires according to the changing climate conditions

There are several reasons that can cause dry rot in your tires. For example, exposure to toxic chemicals, UV rays, extreme hot or cold temperatures, ozone, and so on can compromise tire compound integrity. Improper tire care, driving underinflated tires, and long periods of disuse can also cause dry rot.

Dry rot on tires is dangerous because it can cause blowout and other types of damage. If you can see the sidewall and tread edges developing cracks or the rubber peeling off, your tire might be infected with dry rot severely and require you to change the tire.

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