What is Dry Rot on Tires?

Ensuring your tires are in the proper shape to drive on is vital to ensuring the safety of you and your passengers. However, oftentimes tread is the only part of our tires we check, which can lead to oversights on other dangerous factors.

One of these often-missed issues is dry rot, which is often one of the most dangerous conditions to develop on a tire. 

What is Dry Rot?

Tires are made of rubber, which is a great material for this purpose and holds up for years of driving. However, rubber can also degrade heavily through a process called dry rot. 

Dry rot is most commonly caused by the environment around it. Driving in areas with extreme temperatures and rough weather can expose tires to harsh conditions, and lead to degrading of the material. 

This rot and wear will show up as cracking and dry spots on the tire, usually found on the sidewalls. These cracks and structural failures will cause the tire to be unable to hold air. 

Various factors that can lead to tire rot include:

  • Exposure to harsh sunlight and UV
  • Extreme heat and cold
  • Harmful cleaners/chemicals/protectants
  • Long periods without driving
  • Normal gradual wear
Tire with dry rot cracking
Griffinstorm, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How Does Dry Rot Occur?

As stated before, dry rot is commonly caused by the environment around the tire. Years of direct sunlight dries out the rubber and its internal layers, causing it to become brittle and crack. Dry rot can also cause unnatural rubber expansion which can leave malformed and broken in certain areas. 

This degradation happens gradually over time, but can be accelerated by the tires sitting in one place for an extended period of time. 

How to Avoid Dry Rot?

Dry rot will happen naturally if a tire is out of the elements for long enough, but there are ways to slow it down and delay it as long as possible. 

  • Drive the vehicle regularly to avoid tires sitting
  • Avoid harsh chemicals and cleaners
  • Make sure your tires have proper pressure
  • Keep tires out of direct sunlight

Can I Drive With Dry Rotted Tires?

Tires with even slight dry rot are not safe to drive on.

Visually inspecting your tires for both tread depth and dry rot on a consistent basis is the best way to protect yourself and ensure you’re driving on safe tires. 

Continuing to drive on rotting tires can not only make the cracking and damage worse, but it can also end up causing an accident. The only time you should be driving on even slightly rotted tires is on the way to the tire shop to have them replaced. 

Tire Replacement at Toledo Auto Care

If your tires have signs of rot or are in need of a replacement for any other reason, trust the tire experts at Toledo Tire and Auto Care! Our friendly advisors will help you pick the perfect tire for you and your vehicle, as well as get it mounted and balanced. Call or schedule online today!