My car has been off the road for a few months, but will be back on it in a few weeks. The other day, I noticed some cracks between the treads on the front tyres. Not sure how long they've been there.

I know tyres cracking can be bad, but I'm not sure how much is required before a cosmetic problem turns into a safety issue.

Should these be replaced? Also, it's really only the front two that have significant cracking. Would it be reasonable to replace them and leave the back two for the time being?

Front Left:

enter image description here

Front Right:

enter image description here

Rear Left:

enter image description here

Rear Right:

enter image description here

  • What's the date code on the tyres?
    – John U
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 9:59
  • Front right is 44/13. Don't remember the others exactly, but they're within about 6 months either side of that.
    – raydowe
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 10:05
  • 2
    So ~4 years old, are they decent brand or made in china?
    – John U
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 10:24

4 Answers 4


Those cracks are due to prolonged heat and UV exposure. They are a sign that the tires are old and will soon need replacing.

Cracks of this size are not a safety concern in and of themselves but they symbolize loss of grip, which can be dangerous in slippery conditions when braking.

  • 3
    I agree that they can still be used. Just be careful. Old tires can be dangerous, not only because they may blowout, but because they have less grip... yahoo.com/news/truth-behind-caused-paul-walkers-195132411.html
    – cory
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 15:01
  • 2
    @cory Great read
    – raydowe
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 15:40
  • 6
    Consider swapping the front and rear tires. A rear wheel blow-out is a less "exciting" driving experience than a front wheel one! The rear tires look barely worn, so get some use out of them before they "die of old age" - the recommendation is usually about 5 years maximum life before the environmental UV levels start to cause damage.
    – alephzero
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 16:33
  • 2
    Safety advice in the UK is to have your least-worn (hence best gripping) tyres on the rear. That's because when you have to brake while cornering, the most important place to have good tyres is at the back. The weight of the car will be thrown forwards which will increase front-wheel grip and decrease rear-wheel grip, and the rear of your car sliding out of line is also "exciting". That said, UV degradation is less of a problem in the cool and cloudy UK than in many other places -- and performance in the wet is at a premium.
    – nigel222
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 15:46
  • 2
    @dotancohen Wait... you don't believe there's a difference in the grip of a new tire vs. a dry rotted hard tire? And not only that, but you think it helps wet grip because it cracks? Man, if that were the case, you could save loads of money buying dry rotted tires instead of new ones.
    – cory
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 19:25

Tires have a protective coating which dissolves with time, ozone, and UV light.

Fun fact, tire cracks are roughly orthogonal to the strain axis, so examining the cracks can give you an idea of how forces in the tire work and also which are most problematic.

Cracks in the tread itself are not hugely distressing in terms of tire failure but will result in less traction. The forces on the tire between treads is not as large as the sidewall.

Cracks in the sidewall are distressing, because they can lead to catastrophic failure of the tire. What you've got there is dry-rot. Those cracks aren't bad, but you probably want to start planning for a replacement set in the next half year or so.


These Cracks are because of long time use of thse tires. Need to be replaced soon. Rear tire seems good.


Cracks between treads is cosmetic and are not a worry unless they are growing or opening. If inner body (belts) of the tire is exposed in the "ozone" cracking, the tire needs to be replaced asap.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .