How to Fix Cracked Tires: A Detailed Step-By-Step Guide

The sight of cracked tires can ruin your day.

It’s a condition that affects your car’s movement and general safety if left unfixed. Unfortunately, cracked tires are inevitable. As your car begins to age and the tires are exposed to extreme temperatures, they start to show cracks.

To avoid putting your safety in jeopardy, it’s imperative to learn how to fix cracked tires. In this article, you’ll learn to identify cracks, their causes, how they are fixed, and how you can prevent them.


What Are the Signs of Cracked Tires?


Signs of Cracked Tires


It’s fairly easy to notice cracked tires. The following are signs that appear when there are cracks on your vehicle’s tires:

1. Dry And Brittle Rubber

The rubber parts of tires are protected by oils and antioxidants. Frequent usage can make these protective compounds wear away. This makes your tires appear dry and brittle when felt.

2. Cracks On The Sidewall

Ever noticed splits and cracks on the sidewalls of your tires? They can appear on both sides and are the clearest sign that you have cracked tires.

3. Tread Cracks

Cracks can also appear on your tire tread’s outer edges. This is usually caused by dry rot at an advanced stage. The cracks might look small, but they can compromise your car’s handling even when the tread still has enough depth.

4. Faded Color

When your car tire’s black color begins to turn grey, there’s a chance it’s due to dry rot. Sometimes, the color starts fading before cracking happens. However, they can both happen at the same time as well.


What Causes Cracked Tires?


causes of cracked tiresDry rot doesn’t happen overnight. It’s caused by several reasons including:

1. When Your Car Is Unused For A Long Time

Storing your car in a garage and leaving it unused for a long period can leave the engine in a bad condition. But it can also suffer further damage due to dry rot. As earlier mentioned, tires are protected by oils and antioxidants. When left unused, these protective compounds can evaporate or leach into the ground. This effectively removes your car’s protective layer, making it vulnerable to cracking

2. Aging

Like humans, cars age with time. The older they get, the less efficient their parts become. This is also true for car tires. After a while, the rubber begins to age, and dry rot sets in. The aging process can also be accelerated by heavy use. With your tires running for many miles every day and being exposed to various elements, it will start to crack.

3. Extreme Temperature And Humidity

Extreme temperature and humidity are some of the elements that can cause your tires to deteriorate. While this process is gradual under normal conditions, it accelerates when the temperature is particularly high. When the temperature is low, the rubber becomes rigid as it dries out. This allows dry rot to set in faster. Similarly, when the temperature is high, sunlight breaks down the rubber’s protective compounds causing tires to crack rapidly.

4. Low-Quality Tires

If your tires are made with low-quality materials, you can bet on dry rot to set in easily. Tires face different elements as well as static friction between them and the road. If the rubber and other components are substandard, the cracking process will happen much faster causing your tires to deteriorate at an alarming speed.

5. Over and Under Pressurized Tires

It’s crucial to get your car’s pressure right to avoid the effects of under or over-pressurized tires. One such effect is dry rot. When the tires are over-pressurized, there’s additional stress on the walls which may lead to bulging and eventually cause cracks. On the other hand, under-pressurized tires experience more friction with the road. This causes dry rot.


How To Fix Cracked Tires: A Step-By-Step Guide


When dry rot sets in, you have the option to change your tires. But If you’re not too thrilled with the idea of replacing your tires every year, it’s best to learn how to fix them. Below are steps to fix your cracked tires.

Method No. 1: Fix Internal Cracks With Sealant

You can fix your cracked tires with sealants when the cracks are small and not obvious. To ensure this method is done right, you need to buy a sealant that’s suitable for your tires.

Here are the tools you need:

● Dry rot sealant that suits your tires
● Tire inflator
● Tire pressure gauge
● 1/2” Socket wrench or Lug wrench

Step-by-Step Guide


How to Fix Cracks With Sealant


Follow the steps below to fix your tires with a sealant:

Step No. 1: Allow Your Tires To Cool Down

As you may have noticed, your vehicle naturally heats up when driven. For tires, the heating up is a result of the friction between them and the ground. If you’ve recently driven your car, allow it to cool down before you fix the cracks with a sealant.

Step No. 2: Remove Your Tires

The next step is to jack up your vehicle and remove the affected tires. You can’t fix tires properly if they are not attached to your car. Therefore, you’ll need the lug wrench or the 1/2” socket wrench to take off your tires to allow you to fix them properly.

Step No. 3: Examine The Level of Damage

The level of damage will confirm if your tires are fixable or they need to be replaced. This inspection also allows you to see the area that’s damaged. With a clear idea of the situation, you can come up with a good plan to fix the tires.

Step No. 4: Apply The Sealant

Depending on the kind of sealant, you might need to prepare it according to the instructions. However, some sealants don’t need any special preparation. You can apply them right away. To apply the sealant on the insides of your tires, insert the injector into the valve stem.

Step No. 5: Re-inflate Your Tires

With the sealant applied, your tires may have lost some air. Therefore, you need to re-inflate them. Use the pressure gauge to ensure you get the pressure right.

Step No. 6: Re-install Your Tires

With your tires fixed, re-install them on your car. Some sealants require you to drive your car around immediately after installing. This helps the sealant to circulate and seal the cracks adequately.

Method 2: Fix External Cracks With Protectant

For visible cracks, this method is ideal. A protectant can fix cracks and help protect the rubber from UV rays.

You’ll need the following tools:

● Water hose
● Large sponge
● Water-based tire degreaser
● Tire protectant

Step-By-Step Guide


How to Fix External Cracks With Sealant


The steps are:

Step No. 1: Allow to Cool, Remove, and Inspect Your Tires

Like the first method, you need to wait till your tires are cool before taking them out to examine. The inspection will show where the major problem is and if it’s fixable.

Step No. 2: Apply Degreaser

With the large sponge, apply the degreaser to your tires. Be sure to apply it to every area of the tires while focusing on the cracked areas. Scrub thoroughly to get the degreaser on the tire’s entire surface.

Step No. 3: Wipe and Rinse the Tires

After applying the degreaser, allow your tires to dry. When dry, wipe down with a clean cloth and rinse with the water hose.

Step 4: Apply Tire Protectant

When the tires are dry from rinsing, apply the tire protectant. Following the instructions on the protectant, spray it across the tires’ entire surface.

Step 5: Re-install And Check Your Tires Again

When you’ve sprayed your tires, the cracks should be fixed. You can re-install your tires on your car. If you still see signs of dry rot, repeat the process for better results.

How To Prevent Tires from Cracking


How to Prevent Tire Cracking


Your tires can’t stay new forever, but with the following measures, you can keep extending their lifespan and keep them from cracking too soon:

● Don’t buy low-quality tires
● Clean regularly
● Cover your car when parked outside
● Maintain ideal tire pressure
● Examine your tires regularly
● Apply protectants frequently


Final Thoughts


The average life of car tires is six years. After a few years, dry rot is bound to set in. But if you’re quick to fix them, you can easily extend your tire’s lifespan.

Author: Tim Miller
I’m Tim Miller, a mechanic and car blogger from Denver, Colorado. I’m the editor-in-chief of gmundcars.com - a blog about Automotive. My fan page is https://www.facebook.com/timautozik. I’ve had 10 years experience in car repair. Some of my review articles about car parts and tools can be found on my website.

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