What You Need to Know About Tire Dry Rot

Tire dry rot is caused by exposure to certain substances or conditions that lead to the drying out, cracking, and breaking apart of your tires.
Written by Andrew Biro
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
If one or more of your tires starts to show signs of dry rot—a condition characterized by dried-out rubber, excessive cracking of the tire’s sidewalls, and the reduced ability to hold air—they will need to be replaced. Advanced dry rot can result in improper tire inflation and may even cause the tire to break apart while driving, posing a serious safety hazard.
While it’s natural for your tires to show
wear and tear
with age, dry rot can wreak havoc on your tires even before they start to go bald from normal use, leading to their premature replacement. Learning to identify dry rot—and the conditions that cause it—can help save you money in the long term.
That’s why
, the licensed
car insurance
broker and
trustworthy super app
has put together this guide detailing everything you need to know about how to recognize and prevent dry rot from destroying your tires.
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms · No fees, ever

What is tire dry rot?

Tire dry rot is a condition that essentially speeds up the aging process and is caused by exposure to certain temperatures, substances, or situations that lead tires to dry out, crack, and break apart.

How does a tire get dry rot?

Some of the most common causes of dry rot are:
  • Low inflation pressure:
    Low tire presser
    underinflated tires
    increase the wear on your tire treads, generating excessive heat that can result in cracking or tire separation
  • Excessive exposure to UV rays: Tires that receive a lot of sunlight for long periods are more apt to crack and dry out
  • Exposure to abrasive chemicals: Motor oil, industrial cleaning solutions, and other corrosive chemicals can cause the rubber to dry out and crack
  • Inactivity: Cars that are parked for long periods—both outside and inside—can develop dry rot as the protective resins in rubber are only activated when the tires are in use
  • High temperatures: Frequent exposure to high ambient temperatures can cause tires to age faster

Warning signs of tire dry rot

You’ll know your tires have started to dry rot if they’ve begun to discolor and have turned a shade closer to grey or white as opposed to their usual black. Another telltale sign of dry rot is cracking along the tire sidewall or tread, which can occur independently or in tandem with discoloration.
Key Takeaway Long periods of inactivity, exposure to the elements, extreme temperatures, and underinflated tires can all give way to tire dry rot if you’re not careful—inspect your tires regularly to lessen your chances of debilitating tire damage.

How to protect tires from dry rot

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prevent your tires from getting dry rot—check out the list below:
  • Clean your tires: A rag, warm water, and dish soap can be used to clean tires without exposure to harsh chemicals
  • Keep tires properly inflated: When your tires are properly inflated, it reduces the amount of wear and subsequent heat they are subjected to, extending their lifespan. Check your
    tire pressure
  • Inspect tires regularly: Check your tire sidewalls and treads once a month for cracks and other damage
  • Avoid parking in sunlight: Whenever possible, park in the shade to avoid unnecessary exposure to UV rays that will dry out your tires
  • Don’t overload your vehicle: By not going over the recommended load capacity of your vehicle, you’ll prevent unnecessary stress on the tires that can cause premature cracking

How to save money on car insurance

Adhering to a regular maintenance schedule is key to keeping your car functioning at peak performance, making it easier to operate and drive safely. Make sure to protect your vehicle further with the right insurance policy using
As a licensed
car insurance
comparison app and broker, Jerry makes finding affordable rates easier than ever—all you need to do is download the app, fill out a 45-second questionnaire, and Jerry will start comparing dozens of quotes from the nation’s top insurance companies.
Once you find a policy that works for you, Jerry will help you get signed up. On average, Jerry users save $887 a year on their car insurance, so download the app today and find out how much you could be saving!
“I was tired of looking around multiple websites, so I decided to give
a try. Let me tell you—the process is so easy and simple, and they really find you the best prices for your coverage level. Getting insurance for my new car was quick and easy!” —Joanna D.
Compare insurance quotes from 50+ carriers with Jerry in under 45 seconds
rating primary
4.7/5 App Store Rating. Trusted by 2+ Million Customers.


No, dry rotted tires are not safe to drive on and should be addressed as soon as possible. As dry rot cracks the rubber, air escapes from the tire, making it almost impossible to keep it properly inflated. Over time, the cracks will worsen and once they reach the nylon cords woven into the tire, the heat produced by driving can cause the rubber to expand and break apart while driving.
Tires with dry rot will start to become discolored over time, taking on a white- or grey-ish hue instead of the normal black. Dry-rotted tires will also have noticeable cracks along the tread and/or sidewall, appearing almost like cracked leather or the skin of a rhinoceros. Advanced cases of dry rot may even cause small pieces of rubber to flake off entirely.
Compare Car Insurance Quotes For Free
Jerry automatically shops for your insurance before every renewal. Members save $872/year.
rating primary
Rating on App Store
Start saving money!
12,000+ Reviews
Trusted by 3.5M car owners like you

You might also be interested

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings — it's 100% free