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Why Do Tires Turn Brown

We all know that tires turn brown when they get old. But why does this happen? Is it just a natural process, or is there something more to it? Let’s take a closer look at why tires turn brown and what we can do to prevent it.


Most people think that tires turn brown because of the sun. However, this is not the case. Tires actually turn brown because of the chemicals that are used to make them. These chemicals interact with the sun’s ultraviolet rays and cause the tires to change colour.

What Causes Tires to Turn Brown?

Tires can turn brown for a number of reasons. If the tires are exposed to a lot of UV light, they can fade and turn brown. If the tires are made of a material that is not resistant to rust, they can also turn brown from exposure to water and moisture.

UV Exposure

One of the reasons your tires may turn brown is UV exposure. Overexposure to UV rays can cause the rubber in your tires to break down, making them more susceptible to cracking and fading. If you live in an area with a lot of sun exposure, it’s important to take steps to protect your tires from the sun’s damaging rays.

There are a few things you can do to help extend the life of your tires and keep them looking their best:

– Park in the shade or under a carport whenever possible.

– Use a UV-resistant tire protectant.

– Keep your tires clean and free of debris.

– Inspect your tires regularly for signs of wear and tear.


One possibility is that your tires are turning brown because of ozone. Ozone is a gas found in the upper atmosphere and is also present in smoggy air down at ground level. When sunlight hits ozone, it produces a chemical reaction that can cause the rubber to degrade.

If you live in an area with high levels of ozone, you might notice that your tires start to turn brown after just a few months. In fact, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has declared ozone “the most widespread and harmful air pollutant” in the U.S.

You can check the levels of ozone in your area on the EPA’s AirNow website. If you find the levels high, you might want to consider buying a set of tire covers to protect your tires when you’re not driving.

Oil and Grease

One of the main causes of tires turning brown is oil and grease. When these substances come into contact with the rubber, they can cause it to discolour. This can happen if you drive on roads that are regularly treated with these chemicals or if your tires come into contact with them in other ways (for example, if you park your car in an oily garage). Over time, the browning effect will become more pronounced. 

Another potential cause of browning tires is exposure to the sun. Ultraviolet rays can cause fading and discoloration, making tires appear brown or even yellow. This is especially true if the tires are not regularly cleaned and protected with a quality tire dressing. 

If you notice that your tires are beginning to turn brown, there are a few things you can do to prevent further damage. First, regularly wash and wax your car to create a barrier between the rubber and any harmful substances. Second, clean your tires regularly with a tire cleaner specifically designed to remove oil and grease. Third, apply a tire dressing that contains UV protectants to help keep the sun from causing further damage. Taking these steps can help keep your tires looking like new for longer.

Brake Dust

Brake dust is one of the main causes of tires turning brown. When you brake, your brake pads wear down and create fine dust. This dust comprises tiny particles of metal, rubber, and other materials. When this brake dust comes into contact with your tires, it can cause them to turn brown.

Brake dust can be difficult to clean off your tires. It can also be dangerous if inhaled, so it’s important to take precautions when cleaning your wheels. You can avoid brake dust by having your brakes serviced regularly and choosing wheels that are less likely to collect brake dust.

Road Salt

Road salt is one of the primary causes of brown tires. When it rains, or the snow melts, the salt on the roads gets mixed with water and splashes onto your tires. Over time, this can cause the rubber to dry out and turn brown. If you live in an area where it snows often, you might notice that your tires start to turn brown in the winter and lighten up in the summer.

How to Prevent Tires from Turning Brown

Tires turn brown for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is because of the sun. Ultraviolet rays from the sun will cause the rubber in tires to break down and turn brown. Another reason tires might turn brown is because of the chemicals in the road.

Tire Covers

Tire covers are an easy and effective way to keep your tires from turning brown. Covering the tires when you’re not using the car will prevent them from being exposed to the sun and other elements that can cause them to discolour. There are various tire cover options available, so you can find one that fits your car’s style and budget.

Tire Cleaners

Tire cleaners help to remove the brown film from tires and make them look black again. There are a few types of tire cleaners on the market, but the most popular are gel and foaming cleaners. Foaming cleaners tend to be more expensive, but they are also more effective. Gel cleaners are cheaper, but they can be difficult to apply and may not clean as well.

Most tire cleaners will require you to spray them on and then let them sit for a few minutes before wiping them off. It is important to follow the instructions on the bottle carefully, as some tire cleaners can damage your tires if used incorrectly.

You can do a few things to prevent your tires from turning brown in the first place. One is to regularly wash your car, including the wheels and tires. Another is to apply a tire sealant or protectant, which will create a barrier between the elements and your tires. Finally, you can regularly apply a dedicated tire shine product, which will help keep your tires looking black and shiny.

Waxes and Sealants

If you want to prevent your tires from turning brown, you can use a product called a “tire sealant.” Tire sealants are applied to the surface of the tire and form a protective barrier against the elements. Sealants will last for several months before they need to be reapplied.

Another option is to apply wax to your tires. Waxes will also form a protective barrier against the elements and last several months. However, waxes will not prevent your tires from turning brown; they will just make it easier to clean them.

If you live in an area with a lot of sun exposure, you may want to consider using a product that contains UV inhibitors. UV inhibitors will help prevent your tires from fading and turning brown.


So there you have it; those are the three main reasons why tires turn brown. Of course, other factors could contribute to your tires’ discoloration, but these are the most common culprits. If you’re concerned about the condition of your tires, be sure to have them inspected by a professional to ensure that they are in a safe condition to continue driving on.

Looking for more information about your tires and their maintenance needs? Check out our Tire FAQ section, or contact your local Trail Tire Auto Center.