Noticing cracks in your sidewall can be very upsetting. After all, you obviously don’t want to be driving on unsafe tires.
Most people can guess that cracks in tires likely aren’t very safe. But, how do they get there? And how long can you reasonably expect to drive on these damaged tires? Keep reading to find out what I learned!
Cracks in Tire Sidewall
Cracks in your tire’s sidewall are typically caused by normal aging. As the tire gets older, the rubber becomes less flexible, eventually leading to cracks in your sidewall and tread. Superficial cracks normally aren’t anything to worry about. However, the damage can become increasingly more serious as you continue to drive.
Keep reading to learn about how to prevent sidewall cracks and whether or not they can be repaired!
Are Tire Sidewall Cracks Dangerous?
In many cases, minor, superficial cracks are often safe to drive on. However, a small number of small cracks can cause the tire to wear down faster. Therefore, the tire usually won’t be very safe to drive on for much longer.
Typically, a number of small, superficial cracks quickly lead to larger cracks, which can be dangerous.
If you notice any larger cracks, you should stop driving on the tire right away. Tires with several major cracks are more at risk for a blowout, which can be dangerous.
In many cases, cracks are a common sign of an aging tire. If the tire is cracking, it is likely experiencing other effects of aging as well. In general, all of these effects contribute to making the tire unsafe.
Generally, I recommend replacing tires that have cracks as quickly as possible – even if these cracks are superficial. While the tire may be safe to drive on for a time, they can quickly become dangerous if the cracks become worse.
Therefore, it is always in your best interest to replace these aging tires in a timely manner.
What Causes Tire Sidewall Cracking?
Tire sidewall cracking occurs when the rubber in the tire begins to wear down. Often, this occurs due to the elements that the tire comes into contact with every day.
For instance, UV light, chemicals, oils, and other factors can cause sidewall cracking over time. Usually, cracking is a normal sign of tire aging.
Once the rubber in the tire has started to decline, the tire can become hard and inflexible. If the tire continues to be used, this loss of flexibility can cause cracks.
Typically, sidewall cracks start out very small. Sometimes, they may not even be very visible at all. However, once they start forming, they only get worse.
In many cases, you can continue to drive on these damaged tires for some time before the cracks become serious. However, they are a sign that you’ll need to replace your tire sometime in the near future.
Eventually, the cracks will split the side of the tire open. As you might imagine, this split can be extremely dangerous if it happens while you’re driving.
Preferably, you should replace the tire as soon as the cracks start to become obvious. If the cracks are pretty visible, then they are fast approaching being unsafe to drive on.
As you might guess, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to tire cracks. Usually, you should replace your tires as soon as cracks and other signs of aging become apparent.
How Do I Stop My Tire Sidewall from Cracking?
In many cases, there isn’t much you can do to prevent sidewall cracks in your tire. Often, these cracks are caused by aging and normal wear and tear.
In other words, if you use the tire, sidewall cracks may inevitably appear.
However, there are a few steps you can take to prevent premature sidewall cracks.
Firstly, store your car inside when possible. The UV rays from the sun can do serious damage to your tires, including cracking. Therefore, keeping your car out of the sun can be helpful.
Secondly, don’t allow your tires to sit in puddles of water. If you can relocate your tires to somewhere drier, do it.
Typically, water won’t be your main concern with tires, but it’d be best not to take any chances.
Thirdly, keep your tires clean. While dirt and debris don’t typically cause serious amounts of damage, they contribute to cracking. Therefore, keep your tires clean and free from the mud when possible.
Finally, be sure to keep up with proper tire maintenance. Proper inflation can prevent unnecessary strain on the rubber, preventing cracks.
With that said, even with the best maintenance, your tires won’t last forever. Officially, tires only have a lifespan of six to ten years. However, regularly used tires will often wear down much faster than this.
No matter what you do, you cannot prevent cracks forever.
Can Sidewall Cracks Be Repaired?
Usually, cracks in your sidewall cannot be repaired effectively. Sure, you can attempt to cover up the cracks with a patch of some sort, but this quick-fix may only lead to unexpected blowouts later on.
Even if you patch the cracks, they are still technically there and the damage will continue. Cracks aren’t a one-time sort of damage. Instead, they are progressive.
Once your tires become inflexible enough to develop sidewall cracks, the cracks will continue to develop – no matter how many patches you put over the tire.
Therefore, any sort of repair job is likely to only be temporary and not extend the tire’s lifespan by much. In most cases, your best bet is to replace the tire completely.
After all, if your tire is cracking, it is likely aging in other ways as well.
Do You Need to Replace Cracked Tires?
Preferably, you should replace cracked tires. Typically, if your tire is cracked, it’s because they’re reaching the end of its lifespan.
Technically, you could take some steps to repair the sidewall. However, these are going to be temporary and potentially dangerous. You should never attempt to repair a sidewall instead of replacing it – especially if the tire is older.
In many cases, these repairs will cause the tire to break down randomly, which can be dangerous.
Plus, if the tire is cracking, it will likely show other signs of aging quickly. Therefore, it isn’t odd for the tire to become unsafe in other ways, such as not having enough tread. In most cases, it isn’t worth trying to repair cracked sidewalls for this reason.
To know more, you can also see our related posts on the sidewall tire damage, blown-out tires, and why are tires made of rubber.
Sidewall cracks are a normal part of having an older tire. As the rubber gets old, it loses flexibility. As you might imagine, this loss of flexibility can eventually lead to cracks.
Often, cracks start off superficial and relatively small. However, they can quickly become worse over time.
Once they’re there, you can’t repair them. Usually, they just continue to get worse until they breach into dangerous territory. Therefore, it is often best to replace the tire completely instead of trying to turn back the clock.