Why Do Tires Dry Rot? (Different Causes + Preventing It)

Whether you’ve noticed dry rotting on your tires or are looking to avoid it, learning about this common problem is essential to car safety.

Dry rotting is often characterized by tiny cracks (or not so tiny cracks) showing up across your tire’s surface. Knowing why can help you prevent it from happening to your tires. Keep reading to find out the causes behind dry rot!

Why Do Tires Dry Rot?

Dry rot occurs when tires are not used regularly, which prevents the natural oils from distributing throughout the rubber. Additionally, excessive UV exposure can also cause dry rot, as it literally dries out the outer layer of the rubber. Occasionally, improper storage can also be to blame, especially when tires are stored outside.

Preventing dry rot is often simple with a few easy steps. For everything you need to know, keep reading below!

How Do You Keep Tires from Dry Rotting?

Here are some of the main reasons why tires can get dry rot.

Low Usage

Tires are most prone to dry rot when they are left to sit for an extended period. Usually, tires are protected from dry rot due to the natural oils in the rubber. However, these oils need contact and movement to spread to the surface of the tire.

When a tire is left to sit in storage, the oils don’t make it to the surface, which leads to it drying out.

Therefore, dry rot tends to sneak up unexpectedly on little-used tires. If you’re looking to avoid dry rot, you should use the tires often.

UV Light

Furthermore, UV light can also dry out the surface of a tire, causing dry rot. Therefore, keeping tires stored in direct sunlight is much more likely to lead to dry rot.

If you must store your tires, keep them in a dark space.

Mud and Dirt

Mud and Dirt

Occasionally, dirty and muddy tires are more prone to dry rotting. Usually, this isn’t the primary reason a tire dry rots. However, it can absolutely have an effect in some cases.

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For this reason, we recommend cleaning and drying your tires before storing them for an extended period. Plus, just keep them clean in general – even if you aren’t necessarily storing them.

Extreme Temperatures

At the same time, regular temperature changes can lead to dry rotting. Usually, you only have to worry about extreme temperatures – such as if the climate gets above freezing or into the 90 degrees Fahrenheit range.

Preferably, everyone would store their tires in a climate-controlled storage facility. However, we do understand that many people don’t have access to these sorts of facilities.

Plus, you can’t store your car in a climate-controlled area between uses usually. Therefore, temperature problems are often one of those factors that you can’t control.

When storing your tires, you can make a point to store them away from heat-producing machinery. Don’t store them next to your water heater, in other words.

Furthermore, you should also avoid areas in your home that see massive swings in temperatures, such as garages. Basements are a common storage option, as they tend to maintain a constant temperature year-round.

How Long Do Tires Last Before They Dry Rot?

Typically, tires last about six to ten years according to most manufacturers. However, tires that are regularly used often don’t last this long, as their tread becomes too low.

If your tires are well-taken care of, dry rot can be avoided altogether before their lifespan is up. Additionally, well-maintained tires may never dry rot at all, depending on the conditions they are kept in.

In other words, there is no guarantee that tires will dry rot. And, if your tire does dry rot, it may or may not be due to the age of the tire. Often, dry rot is caused by improper storage or rare usage – not the specific age of the tire.

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Is It OK to Drive on Dry Rotted Tires?

Is It OK to Drive on Dry Rotted Tires?

Preferably, you should never drive on dry rotted tires. Typically, the cracks on dry rot tires are a sign that the tire is no longer structurally sound. In many cases, dry-rotted tires can cause blowouts, especially if the cracks are on the tire’s sidewall.

As you might expect, blowouts are dangerous and cause many accidents each year. Therefore, it is never safe to drive on a tire that is at an increased risk for a blowout.

With that said, short distances to the mechanic are often safe to drive. In many cases, you’ll need to drive on the affected tires for a short period of time to go get new ones.

Without a repair job or replacements, dry rotted tires will often continue to get worse. Small cracks may not be anything to worry about, but they can quickly evolve into larger cracks, which can be dangerous.

Is Dry Rot Covered Under Tire Warranty?

What is covered varies heavily from warranty to warranty. However, tire rotting is typically not covered under most tire warranties.

Usually, tires are advertised to last for six years max. Most tires that are used regularly will wear down before this point. Therefore, dry rotting often doesn’t become a problem for these regularly-used tires.

In other words, you need to replace most tires before they ever show signs of dry rot due to tread loss. The average all-season tire usually only lasts three to five years when driven regularly.

Typically, only stored tires experience dry rotting before their treads are worn down.

Therefore, it wouldn’t make sense for most manufacturer warranties to cover dry rotting, as it usually occurs on older tires that the warranty doesn’t cover anyway. Plus, dry rot is usually a sign of improper storage – not a problem with the tire itself.

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Of course, you should always check your tire’s specific warranty to make sure dry rotting isn’t covered.

Can Tires Dry Rot in 5 Years?

Can Tires Dry Rot in 5 Years?

Typically, all tires are prone to dry rot as they approach six years old. Before then, many tires are often too young and still have quite a bit of moisture.

With that said, it isn’t odd for dry rot to occur earlier than this if the tires are kept in storage. Unused tires often experience dry rot before regularly used tires do. Therefore, it isn’t odd to see some five-year-old tires with dry rot.

Depending on the conditions the tire was kept in, this is absolutely possible.

Therefore, you may need to replace older tires before they actually hit six years old. Generally, you should check your tire for damage and signs of aging regularly.

Does Tire Shine Dry Rot Tires?

Usually, tire shine does not cause dry rotting. Instead, the oils in the tire shine may actually prevent it, though tire shine can’t be relied upon alone to prevent dry rotting.

As the name suggests, dry rotting is caused by the rubber drying out – not by tire shine. You could never use tire shine, and your tires could still dry rot.

To find out more about tires, you can also see our related posts on how long do summer tires last, how long do winter tires last, and cracks in tire sidewall.


Dry rot is typically caused by not using the tires enough. Whether those tires are kept in storage or on a hardly-driven car, regular usage is necessary to avoid dry rot.

However, other factors can also contribute. UV light and extreme temperatures can both contribute to dry rot formation.

Luckily, this problem typically only occurs with older tires. Usually, most tires will be driven bald before dry rot occurs.

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