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I’ve been told that cars that are parked outdoors all the time and don’t get more than about 4k/year use are more likely to have tire weather checking problems…those little mini-cracks in the sidwalls. Is this true, and why? Wife’s 2010 Camry, bought new, October 2009, has just over 20k miles on it and is showing severe weather checking on its Michelins.

Rubber ages in the presence of warmth and UV light. Exactly the things it gets when it sits outside in the sun. This aging starts when the tire is removed from the mold and continues even after it is shredded for use in playgrounds. Aging causes the rubber to harden. Much like chapped hands, the drying and hardening can cause cracks in the rubber itself.

That is why tire can age to a point where they are no longer safe to use before the tread wears out. The tread gets very hard and can no longer grip a wet road and gets cracks in the surface that can run all the way into the cords that form the structure of the tire.

That is why your 5 year old, 20K tires have severe weather checking, or cracking on their surface. These tires are no longer safe for you to uses and need to be replaced. Time kills tires just as easily as miles on the road. Please be safe and replace them.

Tires are made with anti-oxidants that prevents the rubber from cracking.

Ozone and direct sun light depletes these anti-oxidants.

When tires are used regularly this prevents the tires from weather checking. If the tires aren’t used regularly then weather checking can occur.

Ever notice when large motor homes are parked outdoors that the tires have some sort of cover over them? This is because these motor homes aren’t driven very much so the tires are covered to prevent weather checking.

The vehicle just needs to be driven more often to prevent weather checking. Or cover the tires when the vehicle isn’t being driven.


VERY true.
My 1979 Chevy pickup has merely 71,000 miles yet is on its third set of tires for exactly that reason.
Once upon a time I was sitting in my easy chair and heard a loud bang in the driveway and sprung from my seat to see what was the matter. The left front was flat…PARKED !

To solve that problem I bought a set of tire covers. The ones you see on R/Vs and boats that are parked in self-storage areas. ‘ADCO ultra tyre gards’ and ‘CoverCraft snap-ring tire savers’ are available to order at Auto Zone and other auto and r/v parts places like Camping World. usually sold in pairs.

Thanks. Would like more info on why not driving enough, aggravates this? Logic might indicate the opposite, since not driving equals less flexing,

The anti-oxidants at the surface will fade as they are exposed. Flexing allows the anti-oxidants to circulate within the rubber, allowing them to rise to the surface and replenish where they are needed. Stationary tires don’t allow the anti-oxidants to circulate.

Makes sense. hat’s what I expected.

This is why you’ll see people with motor homes put wheel covers on when the RV is parked for a long time. They’re trying to preserve the (horrifically expensive) tires from sun damage.