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Matt Johnson

A Closer Look at Dry Rotted Tires: The Ultimate Resource 

MattGlamperGear
Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Aug 26, 2023Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Whether you’re a first-time glamper or an experienced veteran, it’s essential to ensure your tires are in good shape. Dry rotted tires can be dangerous and can lead to serious accidents. 

Fortunately, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you identify and respond to dry-rotted tires. We’ll cover the signs of tire rot, how to inspect your tires for wear, and what to do if your tires are dry-rotted.

Understanding dry rot.

Cracked Sidewall on Dry Rotted Tire

Dry rot on tires is a common but serious issue we all must understand. It’s a condition where your tires degrade and lose their elasticity and flexibility, leading to cracks on the sidewalls or tread. The once mighty tire rubber that held your car steady on the road now looks brittle and worn out. 

But what causes it?

Primarily, dry rotting tires are from exposure to harsh elements that lead to dry rot. As the tire ages and is exposed to sunlight, heat, and cold weather, it will slowly break down. 

So, if your tires sit in the sun for too long, get ready to face the wrath of dry rot. Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Keep those tires safe, and they’ll keep you safe on the road.

What to look for in dry-rotted tires.

Tire Tread on Dry Rot Tire

Perhaps your tires are at the end of their tire life, or maybe you’re wondering if you need new tires; there are a few things you can look for to determine if your tires are dry-rotted.

Visible signs of dry rot.

The first check is visual. Thoroughly inspect the tires and look for signs of dry rot. Here are the tell-tale signs that your tires might be suffering from this pesky condition—

  • Cracks on the sidewall. Sidewall weathering is the first and most obvious sign. If you see tiny cracks appearing on the sidewalls of your tires, it’s time to take action.
  • Faded or discolored tires. Over time, UV rays can cause your tires to fade or discolor. If your tires lose their deep black color, dry rot could be the culprit. That’s not always the case, but it’s something to consider.
  • Bulges or blisters. These can appear on the surface of the tire. They’re a surefire sign that the tire’s internal structure is compromised. This can also happen if the tires are underinflated or overloaded.
  • Deformed treads. Look for deformation in the tire’s tread pattern, as this could be a sign of dry rot, too. The rubber can become brittle and lose its pliability over time, leading to uneven wear on the tire surface.

These signs don’t guarantee you’re dealing with a dry-rotted tire, but they’re an indicator. Regardless, it’s time to take action if you see any of these.

Performance symptoms of dry rot.

Dry rot in tires doesn’t just affect how your tires look; it also impacts how they perform. Here’s what you might experience—

  • Poor handling. Dry rotted tires can make your vehicle harder to handle. You may notice your car sliding more easily in wet conditions or not responding as quickly to your steering. 
  • Unusual vibration or noise. If you feel a new vibration or hear a strange noise while driving, it could be due to dry rot. The compromised structure of the tire can cause these issues. We see this more on travel trailers and RVs.
  • Flat tires. As dry rot progresses, it can lead to slow leaks or sudden blowouts. If you’re experiencing frequent flat tires, dry rot could be the reason.

Don’t ignore these performance symptoms. If your camper doesn’t feel right, it’s time to thoroughly check your tires. Your next camping trip starts with well-maintained tires.

Know the risks associated with dry-rotted tires.

Dry Rot Bulging on Sidewall

When it comes to dry-rotted tires, the risks are serious. They reduce your vehicle’s performance and can also put you and other drivers in danger. Dry-rotted tires are more prone to sudden blowouts, meaning you can lose control of your camper or RV anytime. It’s a frightening thought and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The biggest concern with dry-rotted tires is safety. Here are some of the risks to look out for—

  • Loss of control. When your tires degrade, you can lose control over your camper or RV in seconds. This is especially dangerous when driving at high speeds and on slippery roads. 
  • Poor braking performance. Dry rotted tires may not perform as expected when braking, meaning it will take longer to come to a stop. This can be life-threatening if you’re driving in heavy traffic or on winding roads. 
  • Increased wear and tear. Dry rotted tires often lead to uneven tire wear, meaning valuable rubber is wasted faster than usual. As the treads become worn out, your vehicle’s performance will suffer greatly.
  • Potential blowouts. The most dangerous risk associated with dry-rotted tires is a sudden blowout. This can happen without warning, leading to catastrophic results if you’re driving at high speeds or in bad weather.

On top of those safety concerns, dry-rotted tires can cost you more money in the long run. You’ll need to replace them sooner, which will add up significantly over time.

How to prevent dry rot in the first place.

Tire Cover Banner

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that couldn’t be truer when it comes to dry rot. There are some simple steps you can take to protect your tires from the harmful elements mentioned earlier. 

Regularly inspect your tires.

The best way to avoid dry rot is to regularly inspect your tires for warning signs. Look for changes in their appearance and performance symptoms that we mentioned earlier. Any changes or irregularities should be addressed as soon as possible. Look for underinflated tires, the tire sidewall cracking, excessive tire wear, and even tire bulging.

Keep your tires covered. 

If you have an RV or camper, consider investing in a tire cover to prevent direct sunlight. This will protect the rubber from the sun’s harmful UV rays while preventing dirt and debris from building up on the surface. The extra layer of protection will go a long way in extending their lifespan. 

Keep your tires properly inflated.

Underinflated tires are a surefire way to accelerate the dry rotting process and develop premature dry rot. Ensure you keep them at the recommended PSI level per your vehicle’s manufacturer guidelines. This will help maintain proper contact between the tire and road surface, leading to better performance and increased fuel economy. 

Stick to the speed limit. 

Speeding is another factor that can lead to dry rot. The faster you drive, the more heat will be generated, and this excessive heat can cause rubber degradation over time. Instead, keep your speed in check and give your tires a chance to rest every now and then. 

Rotate regularly. 

Whether it’s your camper or RV, rotate your tires every 8,000 to 10,000 miles. This will help reduce uneven wear and give your tires a longer life. Sure, we do this on our cars to maintain a consistent tire tread, but it also works for travel trailers.

What to do if your tires are dry-rotted.

You’ve tried everything to prevent tire dry rot, but it’s time to replace them. The only solution is a complete tire replacement, which should be done as soon as possible.

Dealing with dry-rotted tires isn’t fun, but if you catch the warning signs early, you can often prevent costly repairs. 

When you have dry rot tires, the only thing to do is replace them. If you don’t have the budget right now, consider buying a used tire from a reputable source. This will help get your camper or RV back on the road as soon as possible so you can get back to camping without sacrificing safety. 

We always recommend going with high-quality tires when you need to replace your dry-rotted ones. 

Tire tips for staying safe on the road.

Dry rot tires are not the only thing you should look out for. Here are some tips to help keep your tires in the best shape possible and ensure a smooth ride—

  • Use a TPMS to track your tire pressure. This will help you quickly identify any underinflation, which can cause premature wear and tear or even a blowout. A TPMS is the only way to accurately measure tire pressure, so be sure to equip your vehicle with one if possible. 
  • Check the treads regularly. The best way to prevent tire failures is to check the treads on a regular basis. Look for any signs of abnormal wear and tear or bulging, both of which are warning signs that your tires need to be replaced soon.
  • Stick to the speed limit. Speeding can cause a lot of damage in many ways, especially regarding tires. Not only will you reduce the likelihood of a blowout, but you’ll also get better fuel economy and improved brake performance. 
  • Store your tires in a cool, dry place. This will help prevent them from degrading over time. Even the best tires will suffer if stored in an environment that is too warm or humid. Of course, this is often out of our control, but that’s why we have tire covers.
  • Use a rubber dressing. One of our favorite tips is to use a rubber dressing. This will help protect your tires from the sun’s UV rays and keep them in good shape for longer. Plus, it adds an extra layer of protection against dirt and debris build-up. 

Hopefully, these tips point your tires in the right direction and keep them from developing dry rot. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to dry-rotted tires, so be sure to inspect them regularly and take steps to protect them. 

Hit the road with a peace of mind.

Nobody wants to deal with tire dry rot, but it happens. We can only prevent it when we can and address it when we have to. 

Following these guidelines will ensure a smooth, safe journey while saving on potentially costly repairs. Take these tips to heart to hit the road with peace of mind and keep your adventures rolling.

MattGlamperGear

Matt Johnson


Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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5 thoughts on “A Closer Look at Dry Rotted Tires: The Ultimate Resource 

  1. Jeff P

    I always make sure to rotate my tires regularly, but I didn’t know it could help prevent dry rot too.

  2. Jim Haas

    Great tips! I didn’t know that fading or discoloration could be a sign of dry rot. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for that.

  3. Alex

    I’ve had a flat tire before and it was such a hassle. I’ll definitely check my tires for any signs of dry rot to avoid that in the future.

  4. Road Warrior

    I always keep my tires properly inflated, but it’s good to know that it can also prevent dry rot.

  5. Charlie Jamss

    I never realized that dry rot could affect the handling of my vehicle. Thanks for the information!

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