One of the most common fears people have about storing their vehicles for long periods involves finding flat spots in their tires. A flat patch of rubber can not only make your vehicle's ride a rough one on pavement, but the affected tire could also wind up with a much shorter lifespan. It doesn't help that there are a few myths and misconceptions floating around about flat spots. Here are a few of those common myths, along with detailed explanations that help dispel those myths.
Good Tires Don't Get Flat Spots
It's true that recent advances in tire composition and design are making tires perform better and last longer, but even the best tires are still vulnerable to flat spots during storage. Certain tire types, including those designed for high performance or heavy-duty driving tasks, are usually more vulnerable to flat spotting than other types due to their unique composition. High performance and racing tires use softer compounds for added grip, for instance, making it easier for flat spots to form during lengthy storage periods.
It Actually Takes a While for Flat Spots to Develop
Many people assume that flat spots are only a problem for vehicles being stored for very long periods. But flat spots can form in a matter of days or even overnight, in some cases. Ambient outdoor temperatures have a lot to do with the amount of time it takes for flat spots to form. For instance, cold weather conditions often cause rubber compounds to stiffen up, making them more prone to developing permanent flat spots in a short amount of time. Hot weather conditions, as well as severe underinflation, can also cause temporary flat spots to rapidly form. This is especially true for high-performance tire compounds that are already vulnerable to flat spotting at rest.
Driving a Few Miles Will Shake Off Those Flat Spots
Many people also assume that you can return a flat-spotted tire back to its normal shape simply by driving around for a few miles. This is somewhat true for temporary flat spots that appear overnight in colder climates or even for a few days in warmer weather. However, the same trick won't work for flat spots that have permanently formed after countless weeks or months of sitting in one spot.
Flat Spots Don't Actually Affect Performance
Another myth that many drivers believe is that flat spots have little to no influence on their vehicle's overall performance. In many cases, this myth is busted the moment you attempt to drive your vehicle after several months of storage. Those unsettling vibrations and the choppy ride you think are being caused by your vehicle's suspension? Chances are it's your flat-spotted tires that are causing the ruckus.
But flat spots can affect more than just your vehicle's handling and ride quality. Those flat spots can also damage the steel belts within the tire, causing them to deform and eventually break. This causes the tire itself to deform even further, culminating in a severely out-of-round tire that might even blow out due to the tremendous stresses placed on it.
How to Prevent Flat Spots
The best way to keep flat spots from happening is to keep the vehicle's weight entirely off the tires during storage. One option involves keeping your vehicle on a high-quality set of jack stands while it's in storage. However, keeping your vehicle jacked up could prove inconvenient, especially if you find yourself shuffling your stored vehicles around occasionally.
Another option involves removing the tires completely from the vehicle and replacing them with a sacrificial set of tires that you don't mind using for this particular purpose. This way, you can still move your vehicle whenever you need to reposition it or rearrange your storage area, although you wouldn't want to take any long-distance drives on your storage tires.
Contact a tire shop like City Limit Tire & Service for more information.