Tire cracking, also known as ozone, weather-cracking, and dry-rot can become a problem if left unchecked.
By far the #1 contributor to tire cracking is how often you drive. That’s because tire rubber contains antiozonant, an additive that prevents and slows the aging process. (Antiozonant is also what makes your tires turn brown, also known as “tire blooming“.)
But antiozonant only works while the tires are being used. That’s why tire cracking is most commonly found on trailers, motorhomes, classic, collector, and performance cars, grandma’s Taurus, and the church van.
If your tires have signs of cracking or dry-rot, it’s best to get them checked out asap. Stop by your local tire shop or send me a picture of your tires for an opinion.
There are degrees of tire cracking.
Light sidewall, shoulder, and tread cracking is considered normal wear and tear, usually caused by age and overexposure to environmental conditions or harsh cleaning products.
Cosmetic ozone or weather cracks usually pose no threat to a tire’s performance or structure, most tires will wear out before tire cracking becomes a problem
But manufacturing errors can also cause abnormal tire cracking. If your tires are less than 3-years old and showing significant cracks, you should be eligible for a manufacturer’s warranty covering defects, workmanship, and materials. It’s always best to contact the tire manufacturer’s customer service department directly.
Most tire manufacturers warranty tires against defects for 6 years. They also recommend replacing your tires every 6 years, whether they’re worn out or not. If in doubt, get an opinion from your local tire shop before you contact the manufacturer.
I use Michelin’s “Ozone or Weather Cracking Visual Tool” to explain to customers what is considered minor cosmetic ozone and weather cracking, or more severe cracking that could impact the tire’s safety and structure.
Steps you can take to protect your tires.
Cleaning – Use a special tire and wheel cleaner every time you wash your car. I use Dark Fury at the shop because it’s awesome at dissolving brake dust and safe to use on all wheels and tires.
Protection – It’s ok to use a tire protectant, as long as it is not silicone or petroleum-based. These types of tire-dressings accelerate tire cracking and dry-rot.
I use Wizard’s because it’s a water-based dressing with no residue. (I love this stuff because it doesn’t “sling”, meaning the product stay’s on your tires, not on your car).
Bottom line? Tire cracking can be serious and it’s best to get it checked out asap! Stop by your local tire shop or send me a picture of your tires for an opinion.
Check out some of the pictures people have sent me of their tire cracking –
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