Over the course of the past several months, your tires have allowed you to drive tens of thousands of miles and commute on a daily basis. Due to the deep tread remaining on your tires, you may think your car tires will last you at least a few more years. However, if your tires develop dry rot, then they'll become unsafe to use—even if they still have the majority of their tread. To prevent your tires from developing dry rot, follow these tips.
What Is Dry Rot?
Dry rot occurs when the rubber compounds in your tires become--you guessed it--dry. Since your tires are designed to flex, expand, and contract during use, your tires must remain flexible. However, without any moisture, the rubber compounds in your tires will begin to weaken and crack whenever they flex.
In most cases, dry rot begins on the outer sidewall of your tire. If you see numerous small cracks running throughout a section of one of your tires, then the tire needs to be replaced. Although the rotted area may not currently have a large effect on the integrity of your tire, the cracks will continue to spread and cause further rot throughout the rest of your tire. If you continue driving on a tire that's significantly rotted, then you're likely to experience a catastrophic tire failure.
Unfortunately, dry rot cannot be reversed. Although you can treat mild cases of dry rot, afflicted tires will still require replacement.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals
Although tire dressings improve the appearance of your tires, they typically contain chemicals that remove the moisturizing compounds present in your tires. Occasionally using a tire dressing to improve your vehicle's looks during a sale opportunity or showcase won't dry your tires too much, but regularly applying a dressing will quickly dry your tire and cause it to start rotting.
Instead of using a tire dressing to clean your tires, use a mild mixture of warm water and detergent. The warm water will break down any dirt or mud that has settled on your tires, and the detergent will wash away oil and grease. After giving your detergent a few minutes to break down accumulated oil and grease, rinse your tires with water to prevent the detergent from drying on your tires.
Don't Allow Your Vehicle Sit For Extended Periods
As you drive, your tires flex to minimize the shock you experience from the road. When your tires flex, the moisturizing compounds in your tire work their way to the sidewall of your tire—which keeps the exterior surfaces of your tire moist and flexible enough to withstand atmospheric exposure.
If you let your vehicle remain parked for several weeks or months, then the moisture on the outer surfaces of your tire will wear away from exposure to UV rays and ozone. Although other areas of your tire still contain moisturizing compounds, the dried areas of your tire will become susceptible to developing dry rot. Even if you don't have any commuting to do, driving your vehicle around town at least once every couple weeks will allow the outer surfaces of your tires to remain moisturized and protected from rot.
Keep Your Tires Inflated To The Proper PSI
When your tires are under-inflated, they'll flex more than they're supposed to while in use or parked. As a result, the moisturizing compounds in your tires will wear away at a faster rate than normal. Additionally, the increased flexing causes the rubber in your tires to stretch further than normal. As a result, the rubber will weaken and crack. Regularly testing your PSI levels and inflating your tires when necessary will keep your tires from developing these problems.
Inspect your tires for signs of dry rot and replace them when necessary. If your tires are still in good condition, then keep these tips in mind while washing, storing, or driving your vehicle.