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What causes flat spots and how to fix them

By Dan BezerTyre Advice13th September 2019

A car tyre flat spot can cause several serious problems. It can even make your car unsafe to drive. However, not all car tyre flat spots are permanent, and there are several steps you can take to prevent and fix them.

 

In this blog post, we will discuss what flat spots are, what causes them and how to make sure your tyres are fit for purpose. But in the meantime, if you think your tyres might have permanent flat spots, it’s important to act as soon as possible by contacting us today.

What is a tyre flat spot?

The term ‘flat spot’ refers to a badly worn section of a tyre tread. While this might not be physically visible at first, it could cause the driver to feel bumps, thumps, or vibrations while moving.

If you suspect flat spots, here are a few common symptoms to look out for:

  • Visible flattening of the tyre especially after being parked for a long time.
  • Visible areas of little to no tread i.e. bald tyre patches.
  • Vibration when driving on the tyre especially just after setting off.

 

How do you get a flat spot on tyres?

There are a few different ways to get a flat spot on tyres:

  • The tyre may ‘settle’ into a flattened shape when parked up for a long time.
  • From skidding during harsh braking.
  • A minor flat spot from a past incident may worsen over time too.

You will usually know pretty quickly if your flat spot is temporary or more permanent.

 

Can tyres get flat spots from sitting?

Yes, and the good news is these types of flat spot can often ‘repair’ with a short amount of driving.

Tyre flat spots caused by sitting usually happen when the vehicle has been parked up and then left. For example, if you leave it in an airport car park while you’re on holiday, or a caravan has been left on your drive for an extended period.

The tyres cool down from the drive and can harden into a flattened shape. After long-term car storage, tyre flat spots are not unusual, but can be noticeable when you drive away.

If you feel some vibration or juddering, it could be because the flattened shape of the tyre means it is not a smooth circle. However, this should naturally recover as the tyre warms up and regains more of its natural flexibility.

 

Preventing car storage tyre flat spots

To prevent car storage tyre flat spots, consider increasing your tyre pressure by 3 psi before you leave your vehicle.

The extra pressure – always stay within the tyre’s safe maximum – should help it to hold its shape. So, when you come back to your vehicle to drive away, there’s less risk of it feeling flattened.

Remember, of course, that a puncture may be responsible for a flat tyre. And if you have a slow puncture, this is more likely to become obvious during longer storage.

Our emergency mobile tyre fitting service can help in such circumstances. We usually replace tyres at home or sometimes at the workplace, but if your car is in a safe place for us to work, we should be able to put healthy new tyres on it for you.

 

Flat spots on tyres from skids

You can get permanent flat spots on tyres from skids and heavy braking, which is why you should always try to avoid locking up your wheels or turning the steering while the vehicle is not in motion.

A minor flat spot can worsen over time, as it will naturally be the spot on the tyre where future skids are more likely to happen.

Remember, your tread should be deep enough across all your tyre’s circumference – if it’s below the legal minimum on a flat spot, the tyre needs to be replaced immediately.

Flat spots on tyres from skids may be visible as scuffed areas on the rubber of the tyre where it has been worn away. Unfortunately, they are only likely to get worse the longer you drive on them, and you should speak to our team about getting them replaced.

 

Tyre rotation and replacement

A good way to ensure your tyre tread wears down equally on all four wheels is tyre rotation. We can come out and swap your tyres over between your front and back wheels.

This helps to make sure the tyres on the axle wear down equally with the others, and that your best tyres are on the rear axle for better handling and safety.

You’ll usually find it’s easier to steer with your best tyres at the back, and it’s also usually easier to recover from an incident like a blowout if it happens to a front tyre.

Again though, tyre rotation only switches around the tyres already on your vehicle – so if you’ve got a permanent flat spot on a tyre, please contact us.

If you suffer a flat spot on your tyre and it’s not improving after driving on it, you should think about replacing the tyre at the first opportunity.

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