What You Should Know About Flat Spotting, from the Tire Experts at Treadworld
What is flat spotting?
So, you jump in your vehicle, start it, pull out and head down the road. But instead of the smooth ride you expected, you’re feeling bumps and thumps, and the car seems to be vibrating.
What the heck?
Chances are good you’re experiencing flat spotting. In other words, there are flat spots on your tires. Flat-spotting occurs when a flat, rigid patch develops where the rubber of your tire meets the ground. The thumps are caused by that flat spot contacting the road. Sometimes you can identify flat spotting issues by looking closely at your tires, but many times the condition is not readily visible. However, if you feel your car “shimmy” or vibrate as you drive, if you hear a rhythmic thumping, or if you have trouble maneuvering the steering wheel when the tires are cold, or at higher speeds, you may have flat spotting.
What causes flat spotting?
The most common cause of flat spotting is long-term parking, or storage of your vehicle for an extended time, especially if there is an extra load on the tires. Experts assert that leaving your car parked for even a one-month period can lead to flat spotting. As you know, your tires have many components. Most tires these days have a nylon cap beneath the tread and that cap will flatten out at the contact patch when your tire sits because of course, the ground is flat not round like the rest of the tire. When the nylon stays flat for a period of time, it can become rigid and take on that flat shape.
Other conditions that can cause flat spotting include dramatic changes in the temperature, overnight parking overnight in cold weather or if the vehicle is subjected to abnormal heat, locking your brakes at speed in a hard and aggressive manner which can grind a flat spot in one or more tires, and sliding your vehicle sideways so your tires are not spinning, but rather grinding across the pavement.
What types of tires are most likely to be susceptible to flat spotting?
Since it’s not related to the price point of the tires, the answer may surprise you. High performance tires are most likely to suffer from flat spotting for several reasons. They tend to be softer than other tires, with more flexibility, so they have a wider contact patch when parked. They have wider footprints that pick up temperature variations on the road more quickly. And they have stiffer, shorter sidewalls that don’t bulge much, so the tread on the bottom of the tire flattens out more on the road. In short, the very qualities that make a tire a high performance tire, make it more vulnerable to flat spotting.
Is flat spotting temporary or permanent?
In many cases, as you drive and your tires warm up to their operational temperature, flat spots in your tires will work themselves out, though the amount of time and driving distance required varies. More severe flat spotting can occur if the tires have been standing still under vehicle load for a month or longer, for instance if you’re storing your vehicle away for the winter months, or it’s being transported overseas. Those extended periods, especially in tandem with high temperatures and low tire pressure, can cause more severe flat-spotting that normal driving won’t remedy.
How do I minimize the chances of flat spotting?
*When your vehicle is in storage, whenever possible, protect the tires from sunlight, ozone, extreme temperatures, moisture, oil and grease. The longer the storage period, the greater the exposure to damage, and the more precautions you should take.
*Keeping your tires at the correct tire pressure will help avoid flat spotting because under-inflated tires are more susceptible to a flat spot. If you’re heading out for a long trip with a heavy load, you may want to consider increasing the tire pressure within the manufacturer’s recommendations. The same is true if you know your vehicle will be parked for an extended time.
*If you are storing your vehicle with an exceptionally heavy load, consider jacking up the vehicle’s chassis to take some of the load off the tires to avoid flat spots from sitting.
*Try to avoid parking your heavily loaded vehicle on a cold surface for several months.
Treadworld tires are fresh tires
When it comes to the top quality tires you get at Treadworld, you can depend on getting fresh tires, not tires that have spent years on the shelf. It’s important to remember that our RubberMaster tires and Master tires are manufactured using top quality rubber compounds, before being triple-tested for quality then X-rayed to be sure they’re perfect. Every tire we sell is covered by our Ultimate Advantage Lifetime Warranty. Don’t hesitate to contact our tire experts via live chat or email with any questions you may have, including how to get the ideal tires for you.