How to Prevent Your Tyres From Cracking

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How to Prevent Your Tyres From Cracking

The vehicle owner who wishes to prevent the tyres from cracking must understand the bad news first: cracking is simply part of a tyre's aging process. The spare tyre in the boot, facing no exposure to the elements and no stresses from driving, may have cracked beyond usage when it is removed for the first time six years after the car's initial purchase. Likewise, tyres on a caravan that is in storage for much of the year may have cracks when the vehicle is pulled out for the first Spring Bank Holiday.

The good news is that tyres may be protected against premature cracking. Simple preventive maintenance measures can protect tyres against excessive degradation from sun, heat, cold, and the stress of sitting in a single position for too long. Owners of classic cars and caravans who take their vehicles on the road only a few times a year can be especially heartened to know that it is possible to make reasonably sure the tyres are in good condition when they are ready to go. Tyre pressure gauges, tyre blocks, axle stands, and other devices that may be appropriate to protect a vehicle's tyres are easily obtained in the online eBay marketplace.

Causes of Ordinary Cracks in Tyres

Because tyres are made of rubber and rubber cracks as it ages, some small cracks are unavoidable. These are a very fine network of surface cracks that does not extend past the outer surface of the rubber. Should the cracks extend deep into the tyre's material, the time may have come to replace the tyre.

Tyres crack for three primary reasons. The first relates to the process by which the rubber of the tyre is treated to improve its elasticity and strength. This process, called vulcanisation, involves heating the rubber under high pressure with sulphur so that the sulphur bonds the chains of rubber molecules. This reduces the brittleness of the rubber at low temperatures and its stickiness at high temperatures. As tyres are used, they absorb energy from their motion over the road, the heat this generates, and from sunlight. This ongoing energy absorption causes vulcanisation to continue beyond the point intended in manufacture, making the rubber more brittle and more prone to cracking.

The second primary cause of cracking is oxidation. In this case, as tyres are warmed by the sun or by use, both oxygen and ozone from the air cause two kinds of damage to the tyre. They cause the rubber to harden by precipitating cross-linkages among its polymer chains and, paradoxically, reduce its elasticity by breaking polymer chains. These kinds of damage can also reduce the quality of the bond between the rubber and the steel belts in radial tyres.

If steel belts are exposed to water, this also reduces tyre strength and elasticity, possibly causing cracking over time. It does not require a crack in the tyre to expose the belts to water: inflating tyres with compressed air that is not dry has the same result.

Cracks Related to Vibration

When driving on a road with poor pavements, the driver expects to feel some vibration. When vibration is felt on smooth pavements, something is out of kilter. The possibilities include a need for tyre alignment or tyre balancing, and shock absorbers needing replacement. Any of these require a trip to the garage. Failing to have a mechanic check out the vibration can result in damage to the tyres. This damage may take the form of cracks or blisters.

Other Causes of Tyre Cracks

Ordinary tyres cracks relate to a number of environmental and usage issues. Some are unavoidable; others may be guarded against. A vehicle that is used infrequently is more likely to suffer tyre cracking. When the tyre is not stretched regularly by being driven, it is more prone to cracking when it is taken out. Some other causes of tyre cracking include those noted in the table below.

Cause of Tire Cracking

Source of Exposure

Acid Chemicals

Acid rain, overspray from chemicals on pavements

Ultraviolet Rays

Sun

Heat

Radiated from asphalt pavement in warm weather; stretching and contraction of tyre during ordinary driving

Automobile Exhaust

Other vehicles in traffic

Abrasion

Typically, rubbing against kerbs while parking

Certain alcohol or petroleum-based tire cleaners remove anti-ozone and anti-oxidant protection from the rubber and can cause cracking.

Tyres stretch and contract as the tyre heats and cools in ordinary use. Inexpensive tyres are more likely to crack from this heating and cooling, especially in cooler weather. The sidewall of a tyre is most prone to cracking since it experiences the most stress. Inexpensive tyres are more likely to crack earlier in their lifespan.

Preventing Cracks in Tyres

A number of preventive measures may be taken to minimise and delay cracking in tyres. Tyres that are regularly used are often less prone to cracking than those that spend a great deal of time in storage for two main reasons. The heating and cooling that occurs as tyres are used drives to the surface chemicals that protect tyres from ozone and oxidation. Second, the tyres are flexed all around as they are driven instead of being left in a single position, which can allow the vehicle weight to cause sidewall cracking and damage in that location.

Nonetheless, frequently driven tyres can be overstressed if driven when flat or underinflated. This stretches the sidewall excessively and may cause a blowout or void the warranty. It is wise to regularly check tyre pressures using a tyre pressure gauge.

It is also wisest to clean tyres with mild soap and water. Many tyre dressings remove the anti-oxidant and anti-ozone ingredients built into the tyre rubber to protect it from damage.

Preventing Tyre Cracks in Stored Vehicles

If a vehicle is stored and less frequently driven, such as a caravan, motorhome, or classic car, some special guidelines pertain to preventing tyre cracks.

Caravans are often too large to be stored in a garage. If a rarely driven vehicle must be stored in sunlight, use tyre covers to protect the tyres from ultraviolet rays.

Even while the vehicle is in storage, keep tyres at the manufacturer's recommended pressure. A tyre pressure gauge is convenient; even more convenient is a garage tyre inflator with attached pressure gauge, designed to run off any air compressor.

Tyres should be kept off petroleum-based surfaces such as asphalt during extended periods of storage. Likewise, keep tyres from direct contact with the ground during long periods of storage. Changes in ground temperature over the course of the year can stress tyres, making cracks more likely. Place the tyres on wheel blocks of equal size so a motorhome sits level but is off the ground.

Vehicle owners should limit the amount of weight on the tyres of stored vehicles. Unload a caravan as soon as possible upon return home. Consider using axle stands to keep the weight of a classic car off its tyres. Special heavy duty motorhome axle stands may be used in the same way with a caravan. Otherwise, move a caravan every several months so the sidewalls are not always carrying weight in the same place.

Repairing Cracks in Tyres

When tyres develop cracks, some but not all may be repaired. Those wider than a couple of centimetres or longer than 10 centimetres cannot be repaired. Likewise if a tyre has more than two large cracks on its sidewalls, it cannot be repaired but must be replaced.

Garages that handle tyres are the best resource for tyre crack repairs. Small repairs are often fixed temporarily with Slime brand tyre sealant, especially on motorbikes. Otherwise, the 'home remedies' offered by backyard mechanics range from the simple to the seemingly silly. At the simple end, one suggests applying latex adhesive through the valve stem opening after removing the valve stem. On the perhaps more amusing end, another mixes latex adhesive, Slime brand tyre sealant, antifreeze, water, and at least two different sizes of glitter, the last being used to fill the hole in the tyre.

Get Help for Tyre Crack Prevention on eBay

Protecting tyres from cracks is generally a straightforward matter of making wise decisions about how a vehicle is stored when not in use. The kinds of equipment that are helpful are readily available on on eBay. Enter the name of the desired item into the Search window on any page to obtain a listing of available products. If the listing is extensive, a buyer may choose to limit the options by using the Advanced search function or some of the specific selections that may be suggested under or near the Search window.

Comparing Selections with the Sort Menu

The Sort menu may be used to organise selections according to such criteria as which are lowest price, including Postage and Packing, or which are nearest, which may be important if a bulky item offered for collection is being considered. Sorting by price also can make it easier to compare 'apples to apples' because it becomes evident if one seller's prices are consistently lower on the same product.

Conclusion

Although it is not possible to completely prevent tyres from cracking, it is possible to slow the process. Tyres crack more readily when exposed to temperature extremes, especially high heat. Sunlight also degrades tyre rubber. When vehicles are allowed to stand for long periods in one location, the tyre sidewalls may become stressed, making significant cracks more likely at those stress points.

Vehicles that are frequently driven are less likely to develop serious cracking in their tyres, although a fine haze of cracks is inevitable as the rubber ages. Drivers should be careful when parking, since the friction of kerb abrasion is one potential cause of tyre damage that can lead to cracking. Vehicle owners should also have any vibration checked out before it leads to sidewall damage.

Owners of vehicles less frequently driven may take such preventive measures as protecting the tyres from sun exposure, keeping them on blocks instead of directly on the ground, and using axle stands to lift the vehicle's weight off the sidewalls. Helpful items are readily available on eBay. Those who take such precautions are most likely to find that when the caravan comes out at the first Bank Holiday or the classic car for summer cruising their tyres are in good condition and ready to go.

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