How To Fix Flat Spots On Tires – 2021 Easy Guide

Shawn
| Last Updated: April 8, 2021

Anyone that has left their car at the airport or stored a motorcycle or trailer for the winter will be familiar with the vibrations that occur when the vehicle is used for the first time.

This vibration is caused by flat spots on the tires.

In this article, we look at the causes of the flat spots and what we can do to prevent and fix them.

Quick Questions Before Starting

Whether or not you can fix the flat spot on a tire depends on how it was caused. This section refers to storage flat spots only.

How Difficult Is This to Complete?

Flat spots that you can repair are repaired very easily and also easily avoided.

How Long Does it Take to Complete?

This type of repair will take an hour or so, and preventing a flat spot will take a similar period of time.

How Much Do Materials Cost?

The most you will have to purchase are axle or garage stands to support your vehicle's weight. Axle stands cost in the region of $190 for 2 stands.

What Causes Tire Flat Spots? 

There are several causes of flat spots, and we’ll look at the most common causes. Some of these flat spots are temporary, and others are more permanent. 

Tires on a Vehicle That Has Been Parked Up

Often we have to leave a vehicle parked for a long period. This could be your car left in an airport car park for a few weeks while away on holiday or a caravan parked for the winter. When you first turn the wheels of that vehicle, you can feel a vibration or clump at a certain point. That’s a temporary flat spot that has been created by the vehicle standing. 

Flat Spots Caused by Damage to the Tread

A dangerous type of flat spot is created when the tire tread is damaged. This damage can be caused by heavy braking, skidding, and turning the wheel while the car is stationary. 

Photo credit: bobjane.com.au

This type of flat spot is where the tread has been abraded, and now there’s a “dent” in the tread. You’ll easily recognize it as the tread looks like it’s been scuffed.

The tread on your tire should be even across the entire circumference of the tire. If at any spot it’s lower, the tire needs to be replaced immediately. A small flat spot can grow over time as it’s a weak place and will cause the tire to skid under even the most moderate of braking.  

How to Fix Flat Spots on Tires

Flat spots caused by storage can be repaired, but flat spots caused by damage are irreparable. First, let's look at repairing those flat spots caused by short- and long-term storage.

Flat Spots Caused by Short-Term Storage 

If you have a flat spot caused by storage for a few days, it’ll disappear once the tire reaches its operating temperature. This slight increase in temperature will be sufficient to bring the tire back into the round. Check that the tire pressure is correct, and then drive normally.

Photo credit: euroga.org

Flat Spots Caused by Long-Term Storage

A flat spot caused by long-term storage can be repaired by driving the vehicle. Follow these steps:

1. Look on the sidewall of the tire and find the maximum air pressure for the tire. This will be given in pounds per square inch (PSI) and kilopascals (kPa). This video should help you locate this number.

2. Ensure the tires are inflated to this maximum pressure.

3. Drive the vehicle slowly until the vibration from the tires stops. Please note that inflating the tire to this pressure will affect the ride, braking, and fuel consumption, so be extremely careful and don’t drive fast.

4. Drop the tire pressure back to the vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure.

Flat Spots Caused by Damage to the Tread

If you have a flat spot that has been caused by damage to the tread, it’s irreparable. You’ll be able to drive, though you will feel a vibration from the tire. This is very dangerous as the tread has been weakened in this place, and you run the risk of a blowout or skidding again on this scuffed patch. The tire also won’t be able to disperse water efficiently, making it lethal in wet weather.

How to Prevent Flat Spots on Tires in the Future

There are some ways that you can prevent these flat spots from occurring. In this section, we’ll look at some of the ways to prevent this from happening.

Flat Spots Caused by Short-Term Storage

This type of flat spot can be caused by as short a period as seven days. If you’re concerned about a flat spot being created, you can increase your tire pressure by 3 PSI, and this should be enough for a short period to prevent the tire from generating a flat spot.

Flat Spots Caused by Long-Term Storage

If you’re storing your vehicle, whether it’s a car, caravan, or trailer, for long periods of time, removing the wheels or supporting the vehicle, so its weight is taken up on a stand rather than the tires, is the only answer. Follow these steps:

  1. Jack up each wheel.

  2. Place an axle stand under the axle to support the vehicle. Follow all the safety recommendations when doing this.

  3. Release the jack and allow the vehicle to settle on the axle stand. 

  4. Do the same thing for all the wheels.

  5. If you want to remove the wheels, store them horizontally until they’re required again.

If you’re simply supporting the vehicle's weight, then there’s no need to remove the wheels; just make sure they’re off the ground.

Ensure that you check the tire pressure before you ask them to bear the vehicle's weight at the end of the storage period.  

Flat Spots Caused by Damage to the Tread

This type of flat is most often found on older vehicles that don’t have ABS braking systems. It’s caused by heavy braking cueing the wheels to lock up and skid. This skid abrades the tread and leaves the scuffed flat spot. The only way to prevent this is to not break heavily, causing the wheels to lock up.

Another way to prevent this type of flat spot is to avoid turning the vehicle's steering wheel unless it’s in motion. While maneuvering into a tight spot, drivers will turn the steering wheel while the car is stationary. This causes the tire to rub against the ground and will cause the tread to be scuffed off. If this is done often enough, the tire will be irreparably damaged. Rather you should gently move the vehicle forward or backward and then turn the steering wheel.

Conclusion

Flat spots caused by the storage of a vehicle can be quite easily prevented and repaired. These flat spots are widespread and, once repaired, won’t cause damage to the tire. 

Damage caused by damage to the tread is a different matter altogether. Tires with this type of damage are dangerous and should be replaced as soon as possible.

People Also Ask

This subject is close to the hearts of many people as we all love our motor cars. Here are some of the most common questions that we’re asked about flat spots.

Do Tire Flat Spots Go Away?

Flat spots caused by storage will go away, but flat spots caused by damage to the tread won’t go away.

Is it Safe to Drive on a Tire With a Flat Spot?

If the flat spot is caused by storing the vehicle for any length of time, driving slowly and carefully until the flat spot disappears is safe. Driving a vehicle with a tire that had a flat spot caused by damage isn’t safe.

Photo credit: mrzaccessories.com

What Do Flat Spots on Tires Feel Like?

Flat spots on tires will be felt as a vibration while driving. You can think of it as a sort of dent in your tire, so each time it comes in contact with the road, it’ll slump or vibrate through the steering wheel.

Why Do Car Tires Go Flat When Not Used?

The rubber that your tire is made of isn’t airtight. Air can escape through the rubber, and it does escape slowly over time. As the air escapes, the tire's pressure reduces and the weight of the vehicle presses down on the tire, flattening it at the bottom. 

How Long Can Tires Stay Flat?

Rubber is a natural product, and it’ll deteriorate over time. As it deteriorates, it becomes weaker, making products such as tires hazardous when the rubber deteriorates.

Suppose a vehicle has been standing for a long time. In that case, you’ll find that natural processes like oxidation occur, and if the tires are exposed to sunlight, this deterioration will be speeded up. Any tire standing for a couple of years should be carefully examined by an expert before being used on a vehicle.

Shawn

An ex-salesman of industrial equipment, Shawn used to drive nearly 60K miles a year just commuting to clients. He also has a little project Miata build going on the side. Safe to say, Shawn has slain a few tires in his days. He knows all about horrid road-noise, hydroplaning risks, and how much damage a bad alignment can do to your wallet. He enjoys helping us out and Chris always values his opinion when designing something new for the website.