What is the Deal with Tire Marks? There are few things as easy to accomplish, for a professional at least, and as incredibly appealing, especially to a homeowner, than a freshly sealed driveway. Perfectly smooth and immaculately clean, you almost feel bad driving across it, but that is what it’s for, so eventually you’ll have to. As soon as you do, and get out of the car, you see tire marks on your once pristine surface. What happened? Did you make a mistake and ruin your new sealcoat?

The first thing to do is take a deep breath. You didn’t do anything wrong and there’s, more than likely, nothing wrong with your sealer. Tire marks are simply a common occurrence. Because of their rubber nature, and the weight of a vehicle, there is some transference of material from the tire to the driveway when you drive and park atop it. These marks are primarily a cosmetic problem, and have no real effect on the functionality of your driveway. But, they are definitely not appealing and mar the otherwise beautiful look of your pavement.

The Most Common Factors

Most of these marks will fade entirely with time as the driveway continues to cure, but there are some factors that contribute to their formation, and steps you can take to minimize their appearance in the first place. Take a look at a few of the factors that cause tire marks in sealers and see if any of these can be mitigated on your own property:

Driveway Age: Pavement that is less than two years old has softer asphalt binder which can lead to more pronounced scuff marks. Making sure your driveway is properly cured before sealing is of the upmost importance to prevent the unsightly marks from cropping up.

Total Weight: Obviously, there is going to be a much higher occurrence of tire marks with a heavier vehicle because of the increased friction present between the tires and the surface. Parking a Hummer on a newly sealed driveway is going to leave tire marks, so don’t be surprised to see them under your urban assault vehicle.

Tread Types: Tires are the root cause of the marks on your newly sealed driveway. These marks are caused by all tires, no matter their manufacturer, and come from the rubber used to make the tires in the first place. While all tires make marks, the worst offenders are the aggressively-styled tread patterns most commonly found on SUVs and 4×4 vehicles. This aggressive tread pattern causes increased friction due to its smaller points of contact with the surface.

Bad Habits: If you drive aggressively, especially when entering and exiting your driveway, you’re guaranteed to leave tire marks behind. Dramatically accelerating, decelerating, quickly turning into or out of, and turning of the tires while parked will all cause tire marks, so do your best to take things slow when entering and exiting, and never, ever turn the wheels while the vehicle is stationary. That’s the quickest way to make a serious mess of your beautiful surface.

Time & Temp: When sealer is applied to your driveway, it takes at least two full days to cure. It’s very important to give the driveway at least this much time before subjecting it to normal use. Also, sealers are affected by temperature, so if it’s the fall and temperatures drop very low overnight, you may need to wait an additional day or two before resuming normal use. Driveways exposed to direct sunlight for the majority of the day can reach exceedingly high temperatures, and any sealer applied will have a tacky feel and be far more susceptible to tire marks.

A final thought about tire marks: they are common and they are temporary. While unsightly and frustrating, and sometimes severe, they will fade with time and can be avoided entirely by keeping the above-listed factors in mind. All it takes is a bit of consideration of the surface to keep it looking its best for as long as possible. So, think before you pull in your driveway and you should be fine.