What Is a Flat Spot on Tires?

Flat-spotting on tires occurs when a flat and rigid patch develops at the tire’s contact patch, the area where the rubber meets the ground. This usually happens when a tire remains stationary under a vehicle’s load for an extended period. Flat spots can compromise the integrity of the tire and lead to uneven wear and potential driving issues​​​​.

What Causes Flat Spot on Tires?

The primary causes of flat-spotting include prolonged parking, cold weather, and aggressive braking. Long-term parking, even as short as a month can lead to severe flat-spotting, especially in cold climates where low temperatures can cause the rubber compounds in the tire tread to stiffen. Hard and sudden braking, particularly in vehicles without Anti-Lock Brakes, can wear down tire treads at a specific point and create a flat spot​​​​​​.

How to Prevent Flat Spots on Tires

Preventing flat spots involves several proactive measures:

  • Proper Tire Inflation: Maintaining the recommended pressure levels in your tires is crucial.
  • Use of Tire Cradles During Storage: For vehicles that remain stationary for long periods, like RVs, tire cradles can help maintain the tire shape and distribute weight evenly.
  • Regularly Driving/Moving the Vehicle: This helps avoid pressure being exerted on any single spot for too long. It prevents temporary or permanent flat spots​​.

Difference Between Semi-Permanent and Temporary Flat Spotting

Flat-spotting can be either temporary or semi-permanent. Temporary flat-spotting often occurs after a vehicle has been stationary for a few days or weeks. It typically resolves after the tires warm up during driving and regain their shape.

Semi-permanent flat-spotting arises from longer periods of immobility, such as months of storage or aggressive braking. Semi-permanent flat-spotting may not be resolved by normal driving.

Can Tires Flat Spot Overnight?

Yes, tires can experience temporary flat-spotting overnight, especially in colder climates where temperatures drop significantly. This form of flat-spotting usually resolves after driving for some time, as the tires warm up and rotate, allowing the flat spot to regain its normal shape. However, in cases of long-term storage or severe braking, more persistent flat-spotting can occur, which is almost impossible to diminish.

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