Tire Rot: What It Is and How to Prevent It

Tire Rot: What It Is and How to Prevent It

A tire may look perfect from afar, but look closely, and you’ll see a lot of wear-and-tear signs on its surface. This is normal—particularly if the tire’s grooves flatten over time. However, when you see small, superficial cracks on its sides or underbelly, then that’s a problem. Often called tire rot, they form small, hairline fissures that increase over time, and can significantly decrease a tire’s life span and efficiency on the road.

What causes tire rot?

Ozone and Ultraviolet Rays

The sun can be harsh to tires, and its ultraviolet rays (UV rays) can degrade them faster. Add to that is ozone gas which hastens the degradation process even more.

This can explain why urban areas—where there is a lot of pollution that mixes with the ozone gas and sun’s radiation—have more problems with tire cracks or rot.

Man-made chemicals

Your tires have built-in protective layers, but they can be stripped off if you consistently use harsh detergents and other cleaning chemicals on them. This exposes them to radiation, ozone gases, and other harsh elements that can cause small, light fissures to appear.


This is an inevitable process. Tires lose their flexibility as they age, just as an apple ripens and eventually rots.

Somehow, higher temperatures worsen the oxidation process so the hotter and drier the place you live, the more tendency for your tires to develop these hairline cracks.

Bad Driving Habits

Fast acceleration and scraping against anything concrete can age your tires prematurely and make them prone to damages and tire rots. Another way to create those hairline cracks is driving with under-inflated or over-inflated tires that stress the tire’s sidewall.

How to Prevent Tire Cracks

Practice Good Driving Habits and Maintenance

You can easily lessen your car’s chances of developing tire rot by driving safely and practicing good driving habits. This means not to make sudden stop-starts on the road, being careful not to scrape your tires on the gutter while parking, properly filling your tires with the correct amount of air, and cleaning your tires with safe, non-abrasive ingredients.

Use your tires

Don’t leave your car parked in the garage all year long; drive them at least once a month to “knead” the tire’s rubber and maintain its flexibility much longer.

Change your tires

Many manufacturers recommend you replace tires after 10 years from the time you bought them. Still, use common sense here. If you subject you tires to a lot of stress and harsh elements daily, then replace them earlier than that.

Use Tire Protection

There are many tire protectants that help lessen ozone and ultraviolet radiation damages. Usually, they coat the tire to add another layer of extra protection.

Ideally, it’s best to choose the water-based protectants, but you can also chose the oil-based ones as long as there are no harsh chemicals included in its components.

Final Word

It's easy to develop tire rot; the good news is it's also easy to prevent them by following good, common sense driving habits and consistent tire maintenance. It only takes a bit of time and commitment to do regularly, but you'll be rewarded with tires that will last longer and perform better on the road.

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