Tire Cracking on Sidewall

Tire Cracking, Dry-Rot, & Old Tires

Are you seeing small cracks in the tread and sidewalls of your tires?

Most tire cracking I see is normal wear and tear, most drivers wear out their tires before tire cracking and dry-rot becomes a problem.

But on vehicles that don’t get driven that much, like trailers, motorhomes, classic cars, collectors, performance cars, grandma’s Taurus, and the church van, tire cracking can happen faster and undetected.

The less you drive, the more your tires crack.

That’s because tire rubber contains antiozonant, a chemical additive that slows tire cracking by protecting it from harmful UV rays and ozone, but antiozonant only works if the tires are being driven, going through their normal heating and cooling cycles.

Michelin Tire Cracking Chart

On most tires, light sidewall, shoulder, and tread cracking starts after 2-3 years and is usually cosmetic. 

Severe dry rot and ozone-cracking can become a problem after 6 years and tire manufacturers recommend replacing your tires every 6 years, whether they’re worn out or not,

But if your tires are less than 3-years old and cracking, there may be a problem with the tire.

Somtimes I use Michelin’s nifty Ozone or Weather Cracking Visual Tool as a guide. 

How does this chart compare to your tires? 

Steps you can take to protect your tires.

Just like us, dry-rot and cracking 🙂 is inevitable, and just like Oil of Olay, there are products you can use to delay cracking and/or enhance the appearance of your tires. –

You can’t reverse tire cracking, but can slow it down by cleaning and protecting your tire’s rubber.

To clean grime off tires at the shop, we use Dark Fury, a body-shop safe wheel & bug cleaner made by Superior Products of South Roxana, Illinois.

Dark Rage works like an acid cleaner on heavy tire and wheel dirt, but it’s acid-free, safe for any painted and plated surface. ( It works great for bugs on windshields and to clean gutters and RVs.) 

At the shop, we spray it on and leave for a few minutes, before agitating with a brush and hosing it off. 

See how it works on the brake dust of this Mercedes GLK350 —

For tire protection, I’m not a big fan of tire shine, but it’s ok to use a tire protectant like sunscreen. Jus make sure it’s not silicone or petroleum-based because these types of protectants actually speed up the tire cracking and dry-rot.

I use Wizard’s because it’s water-based, and doesn’t leave a residue. and won’t sling protectant all over your car!

My advice about tire cracking? Drive! — Even if you have nowhere to go, getting your tires hot will make them last longer.

Worried about your tire cracking? Send me pictures of your tires as these people did, and I’ll give you an opinion. 

Thanks for visiting – I’m Spencer, the owner of Kenwood Tire & Auto Service in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. 

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