Why Rubber Cracks on Tires and How to Prevent Them

Tires are subjected to one of the harshest environments experienced by any consumer product. In addition to being stretched millions of times as they roll through their life, tires are exposed to acid rain, brake dust, harsh chemicals and direct sunlight, as well as summer’s heat and winter’s cold.

A key thing to understand is that tires do have a shelf life. In other words, they’re only good for a set period of time until the compounds break down to the point where they fail to function properly. The good news is that tires should last around 5-7 years under normal circumstances.

Why Rubber Cracks on Tires 

As tires age, they will begin to dry rot, and cracks will appear across the surface. It’s only a matter of time before they begin to appear on your tires. Whether or not you should be concerned depends on the severity of the cracks.

Because all tires are made of rubber, all tires will eventually exhibit some type of cracking condition, usually late in their life. However, this cracking can be accelerated by too much exposure to heat, vehicle exhaust, ozone and sunlight, as well as electric generators and motors.

A vehicle parked outside instead of in a garage will constantly expose its tires to the rays of the sun, increasing the likelihood of cracking. Additionally, some sidewall cracking has been linked to abrasion from parking against a curb, or the excessive use of tire cleaners/dressings that inadvertently remove some of the tire’s anti-oxidants and anti-ozone protection during every cleaning procedure.Tire manufacturers’ warranties typically cover cracking for a period of 4 years from the date the tire was purchased.

epending on their severity, they may be cosmetic in nature if they don’t extend past the rubber’s outer surface, or may be a reason to replace the tire if they reach deep into the rubber.

How to Prevent Tires Cracking 

Tires will crack with age. Even if you take exceptionally good care of them, it’s only a matter of time until the compounds begin to break down. If, however, you do take good care of your tires, you may be able to prevent cracks from beginning to form before the tread wears away. Regularly cleaning your tires and using proper tire formulas for shine and protection will prevent cracks from forming on the surface. It’s important that you don’t neglect the part facing the inside of the vehicle either, as cracks will begin to form here as well.

Storing the tires properly is another major concern. Spare sets should be stored in clean, dry tire bags and either stacked upright if they’re unmounted or flat on their sides if they are mounted. Keeping a vehicle in a climate-controlled garage when the vehicle isn’t in use is also important. Proper maintenance is also key. By making sure the tire pressure is to spec, you essentially keep excessive stress from tearing the surface apart. Also, driving within the tire’s speed rating and not overloading the tires will keep excessive force from causing cracking as well.