Sales & Support

How To Prevent Flat Spots

How to Prevent Flat Spots

By Alex Chiantello
 Posted: October 23rd, 2019
 Updated: September 11th, 2020

It’s been a long winter, and you’re ready to pull your ’92 Sunburst Yellow MX-5 Miata out of the garage and onto the road. But, as soon as your tires start to rotate you notice that your ride is bumpy! The culprit? Flat spots on your tires from where they settled into the concrete floor over the winter months. If you’re lucky, the tires will regain their shape as you drive on them; however, if the flat spots are permanent you’ll have to think about replacements to avoid doing further damage to your vehicle. So what causes flat spots? And how can they be prevented?

Step 1 Desktop Step 1 Mobile

Temporary vs. Permanent Flat Spots

All permanent flat spots start out as temporary flat spots, and both are troublesome, inconvenient, and can make for a bumpy ride when you start driving your car after a long period of inactivity. Temporary flat spots go away as the tires heat up on the road and apply active pressure that rounds the tire back out.

Permanent flat spots are sometimes harder to identify, as they might not be as pronounced as temporary spots, and manifest themselves as vibrations or shakes when your car hits a certain speed. The scary thing about permanent flat spots is that you might not be able to identify the cause right away, which can lead you down a rabbit hole of replacing other parts of your car trying to correct the problem.

If your car’s flat spots just aren’t coming out after 25 miles or more, there’s a good chance the inner construction of the tire has become too compromised. Time to get new tires. Fortunately, flat spots are entirely preventable, and understanding why and how they happen puts you a step closer to mitigating them entirely.

Recognize the Primary Contributing Factors

Recognize the Primary Contributing Factors

There are certain reasons why a tire might be more prone to flat spotting, including:

  • Performance and high-speed tires Performance and high-speed tires, which have internal nylon-reinforcement and are designed to be softer and more malleable for great ground contact, are more at risk for flat spotting. Their larger surface area and specific tread compounds gives them amazing grip; however, it means they cool quickly against the ground when parked.
  • Cold storage temperatures Cold storage temperatures, especially in northern states, can amplify the potential for flat spots. A big problem in garages with concrete floors, or outdoor storage, low ambient temperatures can stiffen up tires, making them more prone to becoming stuck in their flat position.
  • The length of time between active use The length of time between active use is also a factor, and one that varies tire to tire. Some high performance and sports cars will develop temporary flat spots on their performance tires after one cold night parked outside. For the majority of cars, flat spots will develop over weeks and months.

Why Classic Cars are Particularly Susceptible to Flat Spotting

You aren’t using your 1970 Dodge Challenger as your daily driver. Classic car owners take pride their older vehicles, and don’t want them exposed to everyday wear and tear. Unfortunately, the combination of off-season storage and period-specific tires that vintage car owners prefer to use leaves them prone to flat spotting more than modern vehicles. The biggest reason? American cars built before 1976 mostly used bias ply tires. Bias ply tires have inner cords that run at an angle, making them strong and sturdy but more likely to flat spot than modern radial tires with perpendicular cords.

So whether you do summer car shows with your ’68 Firebird on Coker Classic Whitewalls or hit the track on spring weekends with your ’65 Shelby Cobra on Firestone Wide Ovals, understanding how and why your vintage ride is prone to flat spotting will not only help you take the extra steps needed to keep your tires feeling like new, but will also help extend their life.

Take Preventative Measures Before and During Storage

There are several steps you can take to keep your tires in good shape while your car is settled in for the winter. Every vehicle is different, and every owner might have their own sworn-by method that has never failed them. Although there are a lot of DIY ways to keep your tires round, here are some of the tried and true methods that will increase your chances of keeping your tires looking and feeling good while in storage and on the road.

  • Wash your tires Wash your tires before storage so there is no chance of the dirt and debris affecting the tires at a molecular level. Tires accumulate dust, dirt, grime and similar nasties during normal everyday use, and if they are stored dirty, those particles could start to break down your tires.
  • Fill your tires to the correct pressure, and check them periodically while the car is stored because cold weather can cause pressure drops. Plus, you never know – you might have a slow leak you weren’t aware of. Some drivers swear by overfilling their tires, or inflating them to the max psi listed on their sidewalls, however this can be dangerous and compromise your tires in other ways.
  • Keep tires out of direct sunlight Keep tires out of direct sunlight while in storage to prevent UV damage that dries out and deteriorates rubber over time. This can be achieved either by applying a UV tint to your garage windows, or covering up your tires.
  • Use tire supports Use tire supports to keep the tire’s natural curve. Tire cradles like our FlatStoppers allow you to drive directly onto a concave pad and keep your tires shaped correctly no matter the weather. They are a fantastic, hassle-free solution that doesn’t require you to move your car every few weeks like some other methods.
  • Remove the tires completely Remove the tires completely and either replace them with cheap winter tires, or set the car up on jack stands or a lift. Something to note about this method though – the suspension might look lifted for a little bit after you take your car out of storage!
Take Preventative Measures Before and During Storage

If your garage or storage unit has the space, drive forwards and backwards a little bit every two weeks to keep your tires resting in a different position. Weather-permitting, you can also take your car out for a little spin occasionally to give your tires some centrifugal force, although it’s not recommended in states that salt winter roads or experience high humidity as both could lead to corrosion or rust.


Why are a Smart Investment

Flatstopper Mobile

FlatStoppers have proven themselves time and time again to be a tried and true investment for car enthusiasts who are storing their vintage, hobby or performance cars throughout winter or the off-season.

Although there are several different preventative methods that owners swear by, including some that we didn’t cover in this article, there are also many reasons why those methods might not be practical for all drivers. Perhaps you store your car far away and don’t want to drive out every few weeks to inspect or roll the tires; maybe you don’t have a lift or jack stands because you prefer not to do your own maintenance.

Whatever the case may be, FlatStoppers are the quintessential hassle-free choice for easy winter storage because they are easy to use, easy to store, and they work! Simply roll up and into the tire cradles, and your car’s tires will stay in shape until it’s time to drive again. FlatStoppers ensure that at no point will you have to try and diagnose an elusive permanent flat spot or deal with a troublesome temporary flat spot.

Available in three sizes for standard tires all the way to supercars with tires up to 14 inches wide, they are well worth the price of replacing a set of performance tires and well worth your peace of mind.