Flat spots can potentially be severe. Knowing how to avoid them and fix them is essential for your tire’s longevity and safety.
Luckily, flat spots aren’t that complicated, and they can be fixed by your average car owner in most cases. To find out how, keep reading below.
Flat Spots on Tires
Flat spots on tires are typically caused by extended parking, though some are caused by skidding. In many cases, simply driving around will fix the flat spot. However, if skidding is the cause, then the tire often needs to be replaced. The first sign of flat spots is usually vibrations, but they are often visible upon closer inspection.
To learn more about fixing flat spots, avoiding them, and other potential causes, keep reading below!
Can Flat Spots on Tires Be Fixed?
Generally, flat spots on tires can be fixed simply by driving over them. As you drive, they will heat up and become malleable. Simply by driving, you can round your tire back out.
Typically, this process only takes about 15 minutes. In the meantime, you will need to put up with quite a bit of vibrating. In many cases, there is also a strange bumping noise, which is simply the flat spot slapping the road.
However, there are cases where flat spots can’t be fixed. For instance, if you leave a car parked for months on a cold, hard surface, the flat spots can become permanent.
Typically, this takes a few months, though.
What Causes Flat Spots on Tires?
For the most part, flat spots occur after extended parking. Simply put, the weight of your car pushes down on the same part of the tire, causing it to flatten over time.
Typically, flat spots are very noticeable. In other words, you can see the spot on your tire.
If you want to avoid flat spots, you should drive your car regularly.
With that said, there are other causes of flat tires as well. Specifically speaking, extremely cold weather can cause flat tires. As it becomes cold, the tire’s pressure drops, leading to a squishy wheel.
When it is cold, your tire will develop flat spots faster. However, these typically go away after driving the car. Once the tire heats back up, pressure returns to normal and the flat spot disappears.
Can Tires Get Flat Spots from Sitting?
Typically, the primary cause of flat spots is the car sitting for too long. If the car’s weight sits on one spot of the tire for too long, that spot can begin to flatten.
Luckily, this makes it very easy to avoid flat spots. Typically, all you need to do is drive your car around regularly. If the tires aren’t sitting in the same spot for a long time, then they likely won’t develop flat spots.
For the most part, any situation that causes the car to stay still for an extended period is likely to cause flat spots.
For instance, long-term storage usually causes flat spots to occur. Even with proper preparation, very extended storage can make flat spots almost inevitable.
For this reason, regular storage even when the car is in storage is vital.
With that said, even leaving your car in the driveway for a few weeks will cause flat spots in some cases. Occasionally, it may take only a week for flat spots to develop on your car’s tires.
Preferably, you should drive your car around at least once a week to prevent the wheels from developing flat spots.
Typically, flat spots aren’t apparent until after you drive away. Since the flat spot will be on the bottom of the tire when it is parked, you can’t always see it until the car is moved.
With that said, vibrations and bumps make the flat spot very apparent once you’re on the road.
How Long Before Tires Get Flat Spots?
For the most part, it will take a few months of parking to result in flat spots – and most of these will be rather minor. However, there are a lot of factors involved.
For instance, colder weather can lead to flat spots faster. In many cases, the colder weather reduces the air pressure in the tire, causing the tire to become squishy.
High-performance tires are more likely to become flat as well. Firstly, these tires are more flexible, so they flatten easily when parked. In many cases, they also have wider footprints, so they react to the cold temperature of the pavement faster.
Typically, their sidewalls do not budge, so the tire has to take on more of the cat’s weight.
If your tire is prone to developing flat spots, you can expect them to develop flat spots much faster than standard tires. For instance, some only need to be parked for a month in colder temperatures to develop flat spots.
Can Skids Cause Flat Spots?
Occasionally, heavy braking and skidding can cause flat spots.
Unfortunately, these flat spots are much more serious than those caused by extended parking. Instead of simply because caused by flattening, these flat spots are caused by pieces of the tire literally rubbing off.
In many cases, there sadly isn’t much you can do to avoid these flat spots.
Usually, skidding is necessary to avoid an accident. However, you must avoid locking up your wheels or turning the steering while the car is still.
If you avoid both of these things, permanent skid marks can sometimes be avoided.
Sadly, permanent flat spots do not go away with driving. In fact, they can become worse over time.
Because they don’t go away with driving, these spots become a natural place for future wear. More skidding often causes damage to these same spots, which will lead to serious flat spots.
If the tread becomes too thin on the flat spot, the whole tire will need to be replaced. Continuing to drive the car will not improve the flat spot, as it does with flat spots caused by extended parking.
Furthermore, this type of flat spot on tires can be pretty dangerous. In some cases, it can increase your odds of a flat tire, leading to accidents and more damage to your vehicle.
Is It Safe To Drive On Tires With Flat Spots?
In most cases, flat spots are not severe and can be driven on.
Usually, you can drive your car around for about 15 minutes to fix any temporary flat spots. Most of the time, these temporary flat spots are caused by leaving the car parked for an extended period.
With that said, the longer your car has been sitting still, the less likely your tires are to bounce back quickly. For tires that have been sitting for a month or more, flat spots may be semi-permanent.
However, temperatures and tire pressure both affect the permanence of flat spots.
Flat spots caused by skidding do not fix themselves, though. In these cases, you’ll need to replace the tire. Unlike flat spots caused by storage, skidding removes the tire’s tread.
In other words, it physically alters the tire. As you might imagine, driving on these tires will only make the problem worse and potentially lead to blowouts.
Can Flat Spots on Tires Cause Vibrations?
Flat tires will cause your ride to be much bumpier than it would be otherwise. In many cases, vibrations do occur.
Depending on the extent of the flat spots, these flat spots can cause vibrations. Of course, how much vibration depends on a variety of factors.
In some cases, the harmonic vibrations can be so severe that they may make it difficult to steer your care. As you might imagine, this can lead to accidents.
If you can’t steer your car correctly, you probably aren’t going to have a very safe trip, after all.
If you notice your car vibrating, I recommend checking your tires for flat spots – especially if you’ve left the car parked for more than a week or so. In many cases, flat spots are easy to notice with a quick visual inspection.
On the other hand, other causes are not so easy to spot. In some cases, you may be able to avoid a costly mechanic bill simply by checking your tire for flat spots first.
How Do You Stop Flat Spots on Tires?
In most cases, you can easily prevent flat spots by driving your car regularly. Preferably, you shouldn’t leave your car parked for more than a week.
While most tires won’t develop flat spots in this short of a period, some do. In my opinion, it is always better to err on the side of caution and drive your care a bit more than maybe truly necessary.
Furthermore, keeping your tires at the correct pressure can also prevent flat-spotting. In many cases, you should regularly check your tires’ pressure, especially in the winter when it tends to drop.
As a quick reference, most tires should be at around 32 to 35 PSI. However, different vehicles have different requirements, so be sure you check your car’s user manual to be sure.
How Long Can a Care Sit Without Being Driven?
For the most part, it depends on the problems you’re trying to avoid. In some cases, flat spots can appear within a week. Therefore, you should drive your car at least once a week to avoid this potential problem.
Of course, other problems can occur as well. For example, engine problems can develop if you leave your car sitting for two weeks or more. In my experience, most batteries do not last over two weeks.
In most cases, you want to drive your car around for at least 20 minutes every two weeks. Usually, you’ll need to achieve speeds of at least 50 mph to ensure that fluids reach optimal temperature.
Plus, 20 minutes of driving is typically enough to charge the battery.
However, there are safe ways you can store your car for more than two weeks. To prevent flat spots, tire supports can be used for long-term storage. While these products are straightforward, they’re great for preventing flat spots.
For very long-term storage, expert preparation of the vehicle is often required. In many cases, you’ll need to work closely with an expert to keep your car stored for a month or more.
To prevent problems, most cars will require regular maintenance during storage. Specifically, the battery needs extra attention. However, other parts of the car can develop problems as well.
Usually, it’s recommended to check your tire’s pressure regularly even when you aren’t driving it.
Usually, storage procedures call for things like a thorough wash and wax before storage. In most cases, paintwork may also need to be corrected. Otherwise, rust issues can develop.
In other words, storing your car for more than two weeks is possible – but it requires preparation. In most cases, you won’t be able to put your car in a garage for two weeks and expect it to start again without some sort of careful preparation.
Typically, flat spots are caused by extended parking and storage. When one spot of the tire has to hold up the whole car, it tends to flatten over time.
In many cases, driving the car around will fix these temporary flat spots. After all, the tire itself hasn’t changed – just its shape.
However, skidding can also cause flat spots. In this case, the actual rubber has been worn away. As you might imagine, there isn’t anything you can do to fix these flat spots.
In fact, they can be pretty dangerous, which is why we recommend changing them sooner rather than later.