Are Dry Rotted Tires Dangerous?


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."

Pressure Loss

  • There's about a 50/50 chance your cracking tires will begin to lose air pressure in a slow leak before catastrophic failure occurs.

Pressure Failure

  • 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.

Failure Scenario

  • Since a sidewall's job is to absorb road variations, sudden failures will usually occur while traveling at high speed on imperfect roads.

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  • Photo Credit Image by, courtesy of Saquan Stimpson
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