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RV Tire Dry Rot: Spot & Prevent Expensive Tire Failure

RV Tire Dry Rot: Spot & Prevent Expensive Tire Failure

The fact that RVs are often stored or unused for long periods of time means that tire dry rot can be an issue. But what exactly is tire dry rot and how can you identify it on your tires? Can it be prevented? Is it safe to drive for a while on dry rotted tires or do they need to be replaced immediately?

Today we’re looking closely at the problem of RV tire dry rot. While the topic may seem mundane at first glance, it’s actually incredibly important and well worth understanding. After all, your vehicle, your home-on-wheels, and most importantly the safety of the people you’re carrying are depending on the integrity of those tires.

So, let’s get down to the business of understanding tire dry rot.

What is Tire Dry Rot?

Dry rot is the result of the aging process of tires. As a vehicle tire ages and as it’s exposed to the elements over time (especially UV rays), you may begin to see tiny cracks in the tire tread. This cracking and drying of the tread or sidewall of the tire are indications of dry rot.

You may be aware that tire manufacturers recommend replacing your tires after a certain number of years regardless of the number of miles they’ve been rolling on the road, and even regardless of the amount of tread left on the tires (especially RV tires, which generally don’t get driven as much).

This is because dry rot can (and is quite likely to) occur even when a tire isn’t being used.

What Can Happen If You Drive on Dry Rotted Tires?

Driving on tires that have signs of dry rot such as sidewall cracking can be very dangerous. Dry rot can seriously compromise the integrity of the tire.

As you drive down the road, the air pressure can build and cause the weakened tires to blow out. Air can also escape through the cracks and tread separations can occur.

This is why it’s never safe to drive on dry rotted tires.

Here’s a video showing you exactly what dry rot looks like and explaining the dangers:

At What Age Do Tires Start to Show Signs of Dry Rot?

This varies by tire, location/exposure, and care, of course. But generally speaking, many tires begin to show signs of dry rot at around 5 or 6 years of age.

Regardless of the number of miles traveled, most tires are good for somewhere between 6 and 10 years, depending on a number of factors including guidance from the tire manufacturer.

However, if you inspect your tire sidewalls (as you should do regularly!) and find tiny cracks in the rubber, those tires should be replaced regardless of any other factor.

How Can I Prevent Tire Dry Rot?

Preventing dry rot in your RV’s tires isn’t entirely possible because aging happens. However, there are a number of things you can do to extend the life of your tires and prevent it from occurring prematurely, or at least until you’ve had a chance to wear out the tires by traveling (or you reach the tire manufacturer’s maximum recommended age)!

The first thing we’d suggest is visiting our post on tire safety tips.

If you’re parking your rig in the sun frequently, we’d also strongly suggest using RV tire covers.

Here’s Peter to tell you about the ones we use and have liked very much:

If, after watching the video above, you want some for your RV, you can pick up a set of our favorite tire covers on Amazon (they come in different sizes, so be sure to get the set that match your tire diameter)!

In terms of tire care products that can be very helpful in extending the life of your tires, we like (and use faithfully) the 303 Aerospace products.

The first product is a high-quality protectant that we highly recommend using. It offers excellent UV protection to help prevent cracking and fading of the rubber. We feel it’s one of the best tire protectant products on the market:

303 Products Aerospace Protectant – UV Protection – Repels Dust, Dirt, & Staining – Smooth Matte Finish – Restores Like-New Appearance – 16 Fl. Oz. (30308CSR), White
  • Ultimate Protection – 303 Aerospace Protectant provides superior protection against damaging UV rays. This protector spray repels dust, lint, and...
  • Non-Greasy – Dries to a smooth, matte finish with no oily or greasy residue. When treating your outdoor furniture, spa and pool covers, vinyl...

The second product is a tire and rubber cleaner that we also use regularly. It removes the dirt and road grime which age your tires.

303 Tire and Rubber Cleaner - Preps Tires for Dressing - Fast Acting Foaming Formula - Removes Tire Browning - Safe for All Rubber and Vinyl, 32 fl. oz. (30579CSR)
  • Watch dirt and grime dissolve quickly and easily with our color changing foam formula
  • Prevents and removes tire browning, tire blossoming, and dry rot

If you protect your tires from the elements as much as possible by keeping them clean, applying protectant products, and using tire covers as often as possible, you can prevent the development of premature dry rot that compromises the safety of your tires.

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Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Saturday 23rd of September 2023

Another great article. I've heard of tire dry rot. While this is an RV article, I would think this would also apply to car tires up to light pickup truck tires.


Monday 25th of September 2023

You're right, Jason. It does... only less so, typically. Most car tires are used up due to wear (loss of tread) long before the rubber begins to age significantly. But it WOULD apply to a second vehicle you kept for fun... or a classic car that wasn't driven much, etc. Any time the tires sit for extended periods of time without being driven, they could definitely suffer from dry rot if not properly maintained.

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