Dry Rot: As Fun As It Sounds

The other day, I came across a tire-related term that I had not yet encountered: dry rot. All sorts of unpleasant images began to run through my mind — think extremely dried out, dirt-caked, old tires. Before my imagination had the chance to go any further, I took it upon myself to find out just what dry rot is.

As it turns out, dry rot is not at all what I imagined. Contrary to the image I had of visibly decaying tires, tires with dry rot can easily go unnoticed if you don’t know what to look for. Essentially, dry rot is a condition caused by tire age, improper care, and exposure to harsh elements that can lead to a multitude of complications brought on by cracking in the sidewall and tread of tires.

Though these cracks may be small, they can cause a lot of problems. For one thing, dry rot causes tires to lose air pressure. As air begins to seep out of tires, the tires grow underinflated. This leads to a host of problems such as an excess buildup of heat that can cause damage to your tires.

As if you didn’t already think dry rot was bad news, here are a few more problems it can cause. Cracks in the sidewall can eventually grow into tears, and these tears can cause the tire to separate from the rim, leading to severe tire damage. As the sidewall plays a huge role in handling the impact your tires face on the road, it is important to catch signs of dry rot early on.

A few telltale signs of dry rot are cracking, tears, discoloration, and fabric or metal visible through any cracks or tears. If you notice any of these dry rot symptoms on your tires, it is important to take your car in to be examined. If you don’t see any of these signs now — and I hope you don’t — it’s still a good idea to check every so often to keep your tires rollin’.