When your car tires are already few years old, if you look at their sidewall closely, you will notice tiny cracks. First thought might be that your tires are giving up and you need to replace them immediately. But the reality is slightly different. You might not need to spend money on new tires just yet.
But first, let us see what could be the reason for those cracks and if you need to worry about them or not.
The thing is, tires degrade with the passage of time, it is a fact and there isn’t anything one can do about it as such. This process is known as ‘dry rot’. The biggest culprit causing tire degradation is the sun. The UV rays dry out the oils and chemicals that keep the rubber soft and grippy. UV exposure makes rubber lose its flexibility and in return the rubber starts cracking at the surface. The surface of the rubber becomes brittle, causing those tiny cracks. Although tire makers, like General Tyres, mix anti-aging chemicals in the rubber compound to slow the aging process down, the degradation will eventually happen, no matter what.
Those cracks that usually appear in the sidewall or at the base of the tread grooves are usually known as ozone cracking or weathering. How dangerous they are, depends on a lot of factors. Tire sidewall cracks could be just cosmetic if they only appear on the surface, or they could be deep and a cause for a concern.
You are the best person to judge if those cracks are just superficial or have they developed severely. Your driving conditions matter a lot as well. If you are driving in extreme heat under extreme load, DO NOT ignore those cracks. They could lead to tire failure and you certainly do not want that to happen. But in normal city driving conditions, those cracks are not much of a concern.
Tire cracking over time is normal, and it’s a sign that your tires have done their job, and maybe now its time to replace them. The bottom line is, those cracks are the indicators that your tires are getting old. Now it is upon you, if you immediately need to buy new tires or if you can use your current tires for some more time. If your tires are maybe 6 or 7 year old, and those cracks have been there for lets say 2 years, maybe it’s time to buy your ride new shoes.