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Do It Yourself - Outdoor Power Equipment Repair & Maintenance

How to Prevent Tire Dry Rot on Your Riding Mower

Did you know the term Dry Rot actually refers to the deterioration and decay of wood?

But don't be fooled, rubber tires have their own form of deterioration that can plague your riding mower. Tire Dry Rot!

What Causes Tire Dry Rot?

The weather, the sun's UV radiation, old age, and even the dirt and chemicals you might encounter in your garage can speed up the process of tire dry rot.

The sun, being one of the leading factors of dry rot, constantly heats the rubber molecules of the tires. This heating and cooling of the tire's sidewall will eventually lead to fading and cracking after countless hours each summer in the sun.

Dirt from your lawn, chemicals/oils in the shop, and even the wet puddles your mower sits in after a storm adds to the corrosion of your tires.

Warning Signs of Tire Dry Rot:

Cracks in the Sidewall or Tread

Cracks in the Tire sidewall from dry rot Cracks in a tire sidewall are definite signs of dry rot. Replace your tire immediately.

Flat Tires

Flat tires are often caused by dry rot Dry rot deteriotes the rubber, and can allow air to leak out of the tires.

How to Protect Tires from Dry Rot

A.) Proper Storage

To protect against all environmental elements, including the sun, store your mower inside a shed or garage if possible. Otherwise park it in the shade to keep it out of direct sunlight.

B.) Cleaning Methods

When washing your mower, don't use harsh chemicals. Rinse with clean water.

C.) Check Tire Pressure

Fix that flat! If a tire on your mower is running low on air, pump it up to keep the sidewalls from bending and creasing.

C.) Replace Low Tread Tires

If your mower tires are low on tread, they've probably been also sitting around for a few years during storage. Just to be safe, replace them with some new ones. If nothing else, you'll at least improve your traction.

Dry Rot Risks

Even though your lawn mower isn't traveling at high speeds like a car, a flat tire, shredded tire, and a blowout due to dry rot is still a hazard. Imagine if you were mowing on a hill or incline and one of your tires blew out. You might find yourself rolling down the slope with a 500 lb. mower tumbling behind you.

But in most tire dry rot cases, you'll just be left with an inconvenient flat that will prevent you from mowing until you get a replacement tire.

So check your mower tires often, and replace them at the first sign of any dry rot and sidewall cracking.


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