There are many reasons for someone to leave their cars parked for days, weeks, or even months at a time. If you're one of these people, you might notice a minor ride disturbance or vibration. Alarmed? Don't be. We've researched flat spots on tires as well as tips to solve the issue.
Flat spots on a tire that cause vibration in your car can be fixed in several ways:
- Drive the car
- Lift the vehicle
- Rotate the tires
- Inflate the tires
- Replace the tires
- Visit your auto technician
Continue reading to learn how to fix vibration caused by flat-spotting. We'll also discuss the flat spot in a deeper sense. Finally, we'll talk about its prevention tips. Stay tuned for everything you need to know about keeping your tires well maintained.
What Does A Flat Spot Mean?
Flat-spotting occurs when the rubber of your tire meets the ground surface (tire's contact patch), forming a flat and rigid patch. It is common after long-term parking because the weight and pressure of the car bearing down on the same contact patch continuously.
Aside from long-term parking, flat tires are more common in cold climates or when the temperature fluctuates from high to low. Low temperatures can cause air pressure to drop, resulting in low tire pressure.
Moreover, flat-spotting in tires can be also caused by sudden and hard braking. The friction from the tire that meets the road can wear down tire treads if you hit the brakes hard enough to skid across the pavement.
Flat-spotting is divided into two categories: temporary and semi-permanent. The severity of a tire flat spot is determined by several factors including its size, load, internal structure, ambient temperature, and the length of time it has been stationary.
Flat Spots: Temporary Vs. Permanent
All permanent flat spots begin as temporary flat spots, and both are annoying and can cause a bumpy ride when you get back into your car after a long period of inactivity. Flat spots fade as the tires heat up on the road and active pressure is applied to round the tire up.
Permanent flat spots are more difficult to detect because they are less obvious than transitory flat spots and present as vibrations or rattles when your vehicle reaches a particular speed.
The bad thing about chronic flat spots is that you might not be able to figure out what's causing them straight away, which might lead you down a rabbit hole of trying to fix the problem by replacing other elements of your car.
What Are The Symptoms Of Flat-Spotting?
Tire flat-spotting usually compromises the tire's integrity, causing an entire area to become worn in and uneven. It's possible that this will result in some noticeable symptoms.
Tire Flat Spots
When the car has been sitting idle for a long time, a flat spot on the tires can sometimes be seen. The flat spot in a flat-spotted tire remains in the same place as the tire rotates, unlike a deflated tire that has been punctured.
Tire flat spots aren't always visible, so examine the treads side-by-side and compare them to each other to spot unusual wear patterns.
When driving on a tire with a flat spot, you may hear a bumping noise. The flat spot may make a rhythmic thumping sound as it hits the road. Thumping can be caused by a variety of car problems, so it's best to seek professional assistance before determining what's wrong with your vehicle.
Flat-spotting is a type of uneven tire wear that can cause your tires to become unbalanced, throwing your steering capabilities for a loop as well!
When driving on flat-spotted tires, you may notice that maneuvering your steering wheel becomes more difficult in certain situations, such as when the tires are cold when the car is first started or when driving at higher speeds.
Feeling a vibration while driving is a red flag for tire flat-spotting. As you drive, the tires may "shimmy" quickly or slowly depending on your speed. A vibrating sensation in your car, on the other hand, can be a sign of a variety of problems. To be sure, seek professional advice.
Flat Spot On Tire Causing Vibration - What To Do?
Having a car forces you to deal with this issue. Flat-spotting cannot be avoided, whether permanently or temporarily. Below are some tips you can follow if you experience flat spots:
Drive The Car
Drive at highway speeds until the vibration is no longer present. Flat spot vibrations are usually gone after 15 minutes of driving. If the vehicle has been sitting for a long time without moving, it may be necessary to drive it at highway speeds for up to 30 minutes. No further action is required if the vibration goes away during the test drive.
Lift The Vehicle
If the vibrations aren't completely gone after the test drive, lift the vehicle so that the tires are not loaded. You can lift the vehicle using jack stands at all four corners. This will fully remove the weight from the tires.
For an alternative, you can use FlatStopper which uses a curved form to support the tire, transferring the vehicle's weight evenly.
Rotate The Tires
Rotating tires is another effective method. You can also visually inspect your tires for damage during rotation. Tire rotation is a smart strategy to guarantee that your tire tread wears evenly on all four wheels.
You can swap the tires on your front and back wheels. This ensures that all of the tires on the axle wear out at the same rate and that your best tires are on the back axle for greater handling and safety.
Inflate The Tires
Using the air compressor, inflate each tire to the maximum level indicated on the sidewall of the tire. Using the tire gauge, double-check that the pressure is correct.
Replace The Tires
If you believe the problem is not getting better, you should consider replacing the tire. Also, if the flat spots are permanent, you'll need to consider replacing them to prevent future harm to your vehicle.
Visit Your Auto Technician
Take your car to a tire shop. Tire shaving machines are available at most dedicated tire shops and will shave the tread off the tire until the flat spot is gone. For a flat spot caused by a long skid, this is the only option. In the first instance, you should contact your local tire specialist who will walk you through the possibilities for repair.
If you are planning to store your car for a long time, below are the preventive measures to avoid flat-spotting in the future:
Clean The Tires
Before storing your car, wash the tires to ensure that dirt and debris do not impact them. During normal everyday use, tires gather dust, dirt, and other debris. And if they are stored dirty, those particles may begin to break down your tires.
Correct Tire Pressure
Because cold temperatures can cause pressure dips, fill your tires to the proper pressure and check them occasionally while the vehicle is being kept.
Plus, you never know whether you have a slow leak that you were previously unaware of. Some drivers swear by overinflating their tires to the maximum psi specified on the sidewalls, but this can be unsafe and compromise your tires in other ways.
Keep Tires Away from Direct Sunlight
While in storage, keep tires out of direct sunshine to avoid UV degradation, which dries out and deteriorates rubber over time. This can be accomplished by tinting your garage windows with UV film or covering your tires.
To retain the tire's natural curve, use tire supports. Tire cradles, such as FlatStoppers, allow you to drive right onto a concave cushion and maintain proper tire shape regardless of the weather. They're a terrific, hassle-free option that doesn't require you to move your car every few weeks as some other options do.
Completely Remove The Tires
Remove the tires fully and replace them with inexpensive winter tires, or use jack stands or a lift to raise the vehicle. However, there is one exception to this method, and that’s when you remove your vehicle from storage, the suspension may appear elevated for a short while.
Drive The Car As Little As Possible
If you have the space in your garage or storage unit, drive a little every two weeks.
Wrapping Things Up
Keeping your tires in good condition is a big deal regardless of whether it is permanent or temporary. On a regular basis, you should diagnose your car as well as the tires. Vibration is caused by a flat spot on the tire. You should always keep an eye out for this issue in order to avoid major incidents.
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