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White Wall Tires Cracking


shadetree77
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First off, I'm not going to say the brand name of the tires. That would get this thread booted quickly. I would suggest that anyone responding please refrain from mentioning a brand name as well so this thread will stay open. Thanks.

Here's some background. In Sept. 2013 I bought a set of bias ply 3" white walls from a popular manufacturer. I had them put on at their headquarters. Fast forward to March 2014, my white walls began to crack BADLY. I contacted the company and sent them photos. I determined that the date codes on my "new" tires translated to the tires being 12 years old and thus dry rotted. Their excuse was that the technician at the shop must have accidentally grabbed my tires off of the "display only" shelf. So they agreed to put a new set on.

At this time I was in the process of moving to Michigan from Georgia so on my way out of town trailering the car behind a Uhaul I stopped at their headquarters and they put a new set on. Now I was in a hurry and didn't inspect the tires incredibly close as I had a long, stressful trip ahead of me. Truth be told, I really didn't think I'd need to inspect them as I believed I was dealing with an honest company that made an honest mistake.  However, when I got to Michigan and later on took a closer look I noticed that several of the "new" tires had some curb rash marks on the black side walls.

I was pretty angry at this point but rather than go through trying to take the tires off and mail them back and etc., etc., etc. I decided to just deal with it as the curb rash was on the black wall and wasn't really noticeable from a few feet away. I kept the tires inflated to the EXACT pressure that they were inflated to by the techs. at the company shop which was 34 lbs. I even called the company help line later on to verify this pressure as it seemed kind of high to me. I have used the line of tire care products made by this company and followed the care instructions TO A "T". The car is kept indoors and only driven weekends and I jacked the car up and put it on four jack stands over the winter. I clean and dress these tires about once a month.

Now here it is a little over a year later and I just noticed my white walls are beginning to crack again. What I want to know is, was this my fault? This is my first set of bias ply white walls. Am I caring for/inflating them correctly? Anyone else have similar experiences or advice?

Edited by shadetree77 (see edit history)
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Robert,

    We know where you bought the tires. ;) My whitewalls are much older I'm sure and they are not cracking but it hasn't been driven that much. I do have some "flat spot" sidewall cracking from being old and sitting but not into the whitewalls.

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I, too, have had problem tires from Brand X (which is really the only game in town--they're all made by the same company regardless of whose name is on the sidewall). Quality control is exceptionally poor with this company, but we don't have many alternatives if we want old car whitewalls. I've done two separate sets of 20-inch Firestone wide whites from this company on my 1929 Cadillac, with the second set turning brown even faster than the first. Rather than tear up my wheels even more than they already are, I decided to keep them until I can't stand it anymore, then buy blackwalls. Company tried replacing them but who is to say the next ones won't be just as bad.

 

What you've experienced is typical. The company will keep replacing tires, but the tires will keep being junk. It appears that this company has reached the point where they have decided to cash in on their reputation by cutting quality and raising prices, long-term damage to their reputation be damned. This is what a monopoly does, and the consumer will always get screwed. What are we going to do, make our own tires? Hah!

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Dave, I dress them with a tire dressing product made by the company that makes the tires. It is supposed to keep the tire from drying out and contain a UV protectant. I apply it every time I clean the tires.

 

John, these cracks are in the white wall only. Just like before. It started out small and became a lot bigger very quickly. Looks like the floor of a desert.

 

Wayne, in all honesty I am not pleased at the thought of going through this process again but after calming down a bit from my initial anger earlier today I have decided to contact them. I just got in from taking pictures of the DOT numbers. I will get pictures of the cracks tomorrow when it is daylight out. I think I was wrong about the numbers being rubbed off. It appears that what I was seeing was a rough, cracked looking gouge at the end of the numbers. I'm guessing it was caused by whatever they used to press the numbers in. I went back and edited my original post to remove that statement. I've gathered my original receipts and paper work and as soon as I get the rest of the pictures I'll be contacting them.

 

Speaking of those DOT numbers, maybe you guys can help me understand these. According to what I know about DOT numbers on tires made since the year 2000, the last four digits should tell me the month and year they were made. BUT....the numbers on these tires don't seem to make sense. They contain 11 characters. The last four of both rear tires is 5421. The last four digits of both front tires is 5031. So using the decoding process that gives me the 54th week of the year 2021 and the 50th week of the year 2031. I don't think that's right. So does that mean these tires were made BEFORE the year 2000?? Applying the decoding process for tires before 2000 that would mean my rear tires were made the 42nd week of the year in the first year of the decade and the fronts would be made in the 3rd week of the year in the first year of the decade. Which would mean my tires have been around since '91. Am I doing this correctly?

Edited by shadetree77 (see edit history)
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Shadetree, I'm glad I found your old PM about tire company in question to refresh my memory about this.

So it's true that regardless of the brand name on the sidewall, they're made by one manufacturer? That's really depressing. :(

So for all we know these tires could be chinese.

Edited by Bleach (see edit history)
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Shadetree, I'm glad I found your old PM about tire company in question to refresh my memory about this.

So it's true that regardless of the brand name on the sidewall, they're made by one manufacturer? That's really depressing. :(

So for all we know these tires could be chinese.

More likely they are made in India. We have had absolutely lousy service from these folks the last few years. Their "order takers" apparently know absolutely nothing about tires or tubes. Took us 3 tries to get tubes with the correct diameter rubber stems the last time we ordered.

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Most of their vintage radials and almost all the tubes are made in Vietnam. They do have a plant in PA that turns out their non-radial vintage tires like the 20-inch Firestones on my Cadillac, but they have serious quality issues there, too. They're well aware of the problem but aren't interested in fixing it at the source but just offering free replacement tires (although they'll try to charge you to ship the replacements to you and ask you to pay to ship the old ones back). I had a friend who chose to reinstall some 40-year-old inner tubes in his Pierce Arrow's new tires because the new ones from Brand X were so flimsy and poorly made that it seemed like the right decision. :o

 

Maybe they make all their money on shipping...

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So I guess the philosophy of throw those old tires out first thing they are junk may not be as sound as it once was.  I have a pair of Wards Riverside 21 inch Model A tires still in the wrappers in my garage from Probably the 1950's.  Maybe they would be a better choice than the new ones. 

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I'm not sure how much the tire dressing and cleaning makes the difference.  I have tires on a car that are 25 years old now that got cleaned about once a month with Bleachwhite  (the big no no stuff) for the first 15 years of their life.  They haven't been cleaned but once or twice a year in the last 10 and they are barely starting to show age.  They have been kept in a cool dark garage for most of their life and they are on a car that is almost too much weight for them.  They probably have about 5,000 miles on them. 

Seems to me the problem lies in the type of material they must have switched to as opposed to what they used to use. We know with all the new environmental laws and regulations things aren't what they used to be.  Remember mot too long ago you could buy oil based stain that penetrated wood and lasted for decades, unilke water based stain that seems to fail in less than five and takes much longer to apply.   That's about the only thing that would explain them failing so early. 

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According to a few chemist friends of mine the anti-aging additive in the rubber compounds is Wax-made sense to me as it acts as a lubricant in the rubber.  Many of the tire dressings contain Silicone which dissolves Wax.

 Make sure the tire dressing product you use does not contain Silicone.

 This surprised me as a product called Silicone Grease is advertised and recommended for dressing the rubber gaskets,such as door seal gaskets.Maybe no wax or different kind of rubber in gaskets. 

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