Are Dry Rotted Tires Dangerous?by Richard Rowe
Tire sidewall cracking is a condition caused by oxidation in the rubber compounds used in a tire's construction. Though modern manufacturers use a number of additives to prevent it, this cracking condition can affect any tire no matter how new.
"Dry Rot" vs. Sidewall Cracking
The term "dry rot" applies only to old cotton-based bias-ply tires that haven't seen production for the street in 30 years. The condition as it applies to modern tires is called "sidewall cracking."
There's about a 50/50 chance your cracking tires will begin to lose air pressure in a slow leak before catastrophic failure occurs.
These small cracks can open rapidly, releasing the tire's air pressure in a severe blow-out with no warning whatsoever.
Sidewall cracks can lead to sudden and massive rips in the sidewall severe enough to separate the tire from the rim.
Since a sidewall's job is to absorb road variations, sudden failures will usually occur while traveling at high speed on imperfect roads.
- photo_camera Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Saquan Stimpson