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Taking care of tires must be a priority for every car, truck, RV, or trailer owner. After all, the tires are all that stands between your vehicle and the roadway.

Proper tire maintenance is not limited to checking air pressure and inspecting them for signs of damage. Tires that are left sitting still for an extended period (think of a personal water craft that sits dormant for well over half the year in colder climates) can be at risk of dry rotting, which is a problem best avoided.

What is Dry Rotting?

Dry rotting generally manifests itself in the form of cracks in the rubber. As tires age and face greater exposure to the sun they can lose their protective resin covering, which leaves the rubber underneath vulnerable to other natural elements and makes the tire become brittle. When this happens the tire becomes more vulnerable to other forms of damage, which means it can quickly become unusable.

What Causes Tire Dry Rot?

Dry rotting in tires is most commonly attributed to inactivity. If a trailer is sitting in your driveway or parking lot for an extended time, this means its tires will be left exposed to the elements and also sitting in the same position. Elements such as rain, moisture, sunlight and ice can all eat away at the tire rubber over time. For example, extended exposure to sunlight means the tires are exposed to ultraviolet rays, which can be a nightmare for the aforementioned resin coatings that tires rely on for protection.

Additionally, long-term contact with the ground can cause tire dry rot and flat spots. Finally, pressure and weight can also put significant strain on your tires and cause them to degrade faster. If you have a heavy load on your trailer and leave it resting on the wheels for an extended period, trouble might follow in the form of damaged tires.

How Can I Protect My Tires?

Fortunately there are a number of steps you can take to protect your tires from the elements described above and extend their usable lifespan.

First, it is critical to protect your tires from sun exposure. At most car and RV stores you can buy covers that are specially made for this purpose. Using them helps you prevent ultraviolet light from degrading your trailer tires in your driveway.

Consider rotating the tires on a regular basis. By this, we don’t mean in the traditional sense of swapping their places as one might do at an oil change. Instead, just try and move the trailer around every few weeks so that it’s resting on a different part of the tire. This will help spread out the impact of the weight, which can ensure that the tire is equally worn and no disproportionate wear contributes to its premature demise. You can also help better distribute the weight of the trailer by having the tires rest on plywood that you’ve laid out on the driveway ahead of time. This works similarly to a snowshoe, distributing your weight so your foot doesn’t sink all the way into the snow.

Test your tire pressure regularly. Over- or under-inflated tires can be a real threat to the integrity of your trailer’s tires. One of the best possible options is that if your trailer is going to be inactive for an extended period you could also leave it resting on blocks, remove the tires altogether, and store them while underinflated in a cool, dry place.

Protecting and maintaining your tires is the responsibility of every vehicle owner, and it becomes especially pressing when it comes to trailers, which might face long stretches of little to no use. By educating yourself on what dry rot can do to tires, what the contributing factors are, and how you can prevent them, you can go a long way towards extending the lifespan of your trailer and keeping your family and equipment safe.