When Are Cracks in Tire Sidewall Unsafe?

Tires are probably the most exposed parts of any vehicle, as they’re responsible for climbing over any obstacles on the ground. Because of their function, most tires are a mixture of rubber polymers and other materials. However, they may develop cracks over time.

Any crack in your tire sidewall is unsafe, particularly when left unaddressed. If the damage is not massive, you may not need to change your tires swiftly. However, the cracks are a sign that you should pay attention to.

This article will explain, in detail, what it means to see cracks in your car tires. I will explain the causes of these cracks, possible solutions, and how you can avoid cracks in your tires.

Are Cracks Normal in Tires?

Your tire is always in contact with the road, whether the vehicle is moving or parked. Unfortunately, you can’t avoid all the dangerously sharp debris spread on the streets you drive.

Over time, this debris will cause some tiny scratches to your tires. These crack types are not always noticeable, and they’re not causes for concern. Overall, minor cracks in tires are normal.

However, widening of the cracks implies that something is wrong with your tires. If you start to notice the cracks a lot more, it’s best to consult an expert for an inspection.

What Causes Cracks in Tires?

The primary manufacturing material of tires is rubber. Rubber has the property of stretching during deformation and shrinking back into its original position. However, the shrinkage does not return the tire to its original position every time, hence the cracks.

The constant stretching and shrinking is the base cause of any cracks in a tire. However, there are some specific situations that can contribute to tire cracks:

Your Tires Are Getting Old

A vehicle’s tires are vital to its performance, but they can’t last forever.

You may not know this, but your tires have an expiry date. The expiry date of most tires is six years from their production date.

It is straightforward to assume that your tires have a six-year lifespan starting from when you bought them. However, it is crucial to know the production date of the tires to determine their expiry date.

No matter how well you care for your tires, they will still age. Eventually, cracks will show. The more you use the car tires, the faster they will lose their structural integrity.

You Have a Specific Type of Tire

Today, we have access to a wide selection of tires available from manufacturers around the world. Still, all tire types fall under three main categories:

  • Winter tires
  • Summer tires
  • All-season tires

As you might expect, the names of these tires determine the seasons best suited for them.

The all-season tires perform optimally irrespective of the season, but they can not outperform the summer and winter tires during their respective weather conditions.

Most cars have all-season tires, making them suitable for various climates and conditions.

However, if you have summer tires, you must stick to that weather condition. According to a report, these tires may increase rigidity during the cold seasons.

Bad Inflation Practices

Tires need to be filled with the correct amount of pressure to continue working correctly. The air pressure in the tires is a crucial factor affecting their lifespan.

Different tires require different air pressures based on their type, the weather, and components.

You should always aim to keep your tire pressure within the proper range. It’s essential to ensure you do not add too much or little pressure.

According to a study conducted on two tires – one with a pressure of 25 psi and the other filled to 45 psi — the tire with a lower pressure had a higher resistance to roll when faced with a speed increase.

When a tire faces a higher resistance on the road, an increase in temperature will ensue, causing the tire to stretch and shrink. As a result, you will see cracks appear.

Adding too much pressure can also cause the tires to crack. So, your best bet is to know the required pressure and keep it that way.

Harsh Temperature Changes

Temperature affects rubber very quickly. As you might expect, temperature changes cause the tires to shrink or stretch. Once the tire changes its size or structure, it is almost impossible to return to its original position. 

During extreme weather changes, your tires will be affected, even if you use the all-season tires.

Temperature reduction increases the air’s density. In turn, this will cause a drop in the air pressure within the tires. As I explained above, this change in pressure will affect the rolling resistance, causing cracks.

Unless you have winter tires, try to increase the inflation level you fill your tires with during the cold season. This increase will cater to the reduced air pressure during harsh weather conditions.

Tire Idleness

It goes without saying that the older a tire gets, the closer it gets to its expiry date. As you know, cracks in tires are a significant sign of aging.

However, don’t think you are saving your tires from cracks by keeping them idle.

Tire manufacturers add antioxidants like paraphenylene to the rubber used to produce tires. These compounds reduce whether you use the tires or not.

Some tires will suffer from a term known as dry rot. When dry rot happens to your tires, you will notice cracks appearing rapidly.

There are certain products made to add shine back to your tires, but you need to be careful when purchasing these. If you get the wrong product, it can cause cracks.

I highly recommend the TRINOVA Wheel Cleaner if you want to restore the tires’ shine. This tire spray has no acid compounds in its composition, and it does not affect your tire components.

Exposure to UV Lighting

Ultraviolet rays from the sun affect the rubber of your tires. Some of the effects it can have on the rubber part of your tires include:

  • Crack formation
  • Elasticity loss: This happens as a result of the tire expanding and shrinking frequently.

There is no reasonable way to escape your tires’ exposure to sunlight. What you can do is reduce the exposure by parking your vehicle in a closed space.

Fixing Cracks in Tires

The best way to fix your tire cracks is by contacting an expert. They have the technical knowledge, and they can give an experienced verdict on whether your tires are safe for use.

Here are a few things you can do when you notice cracks in your tires:

  • You can use a sealant for a crack on the inside
  • You can protect the outer parts of your tires from external factors
  • You can call an expert to give you the best advice. If possible, show them the tires to help them address the problem

None of these steps will give your tires the perfect solution. However, they can buy you some time until you can have a replacement tire installed.


Trying to avoid cracks on tires is impossible, as they are bound to appear with time and use. However, there are a few basic steps you can take to prevent cracks and keep your tires functional for as long as possible.

Ensure you buy high-quality tires and check the production date before paying. Also, always confirm that your tires have the correct air pressure and are protected from any harsh external conditions.

See also: Can You Change Tire Size on the Same Rim?

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