What causes flat spots on tyres?

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

Here’s everything you need to know about flat spots.

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 a flat spot, 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, for example, bald tyre patches
  • Vibration when driving on the tyre especially just after setting off

What causes flat spots on tyres?

There can be a few different causes for a flat spot on a tyre:

  • 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

You will usually know pretty quickly if your flat spot is temporary or more permanent. However, as soon as you identify a flat spot on a tyre, it’s important to get it checked out immediately, as it can undermine the integrity of the tyre.

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Can tyres get flat spots from sitting?

Many of us leave our cars parked for extended period of times, but can this cause a flat spot?

The simple answer is, yes. However, the good news is that 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

Storing a car for long periods can sometimes be unavoidable, so how can you prevent flat spots from occurring?

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 that a puncture may also be responsible for a flat tyre. If you have a slow puncture, this is more likely to become obvious during longer storage. Our Halfords Mobile Experts can help in such circumstances. Available 7 days a week, one of our mobile technicians can change a tyre either at your home or workplace.

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Flat spots on tyres from skids

One of the biggest causes of permanent flat spots, heavy braking and skidding can also cause a minor flat spot to worsen over time.

As a result, you should always try to avoid locking up your wheels or turning the steering while the vehicle is not in motion.

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. Your best course of action is to book our Free Tyre Check and one of our trained technicians can access the tyre for you.

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Tyre rotation and replacement

So, with all this in mind, how can you try and prevent flat spots and tyre wear?

A good way to ensure your tyre tread wears down equally on all four wheels is tyre rotation. Regularly rotating the tyres helps distribute wear around the whole tyre, maximising tread life.

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.

Through our Mobile Expert service, when you buy replacement tyres, one of our trained technicians can also provide an additional tyre rotation service.

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, speak to one of our colleagues for further advice.

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.

Here at Halfords, we have a wide range of tyres from the best brands. We can also fit your new tyres in any of our Autocentres nationwide, and also provide a mobile tyre fitting service.

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For more tyre guidance, head over to our tyre advice and help guides.

Same day tyre fitting

Did you know that we now offer same day tyre fitting service across our garages nationwide? Simply book online before 1pm and we can replace your tyres the same day to help you get you back on the road safely and swiftly. Please note that availability varies by location. For more information, please head on over to our dedicated same day tyre fitting page where you can find answers to frequently asked questions, choose the right tyres for your vehicle and book your appointment.

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