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.