Flat spots are the bane of any vehicle being put up for long-term storage. This occurs when the weight of the vehicle continuously presses down on one particular section of tire for long periods of time. The end result is a tire that has a permanent flat spot that causes vibration and poor performance. If you plan on keeping your car off the road for a while, here's what you can do to prevent flat spots from forming.
Move the Vehicle Occasionally
The easiest thing you can do to prevent your tires from developing flat spots is to simply roll it back and forth at least twice a month. This also gives you an opportunity to start the vehicle and perform a cursory check of it for anything out of the ordinary. It's your best option if you don't want to go through the hassle of removing your wheels and if you have the time and the space to move it on a regular basis.
Store the Vehicle on Jack Stands
In some cases, you may not have enough space to move your vehicle back and forth, nor do you have time to move it. This is where a quality set of jack stands comes in. You can use these to take the weight of the vehicle completely off of your tires, thus preventing flat spots from forming over time. It'll also take the load off of the various springs, bushings and shocks that make up your car's suspension, keeping it in relatively good condition throughout the storage period.
If you decide to store your vehicle on jack stands, here are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Make sure the surface is completely level and free of any cracks, potholes or other defects that could cause the vehicle to shift over time.
- Always place each jack stand under a solid mounting point. Your vehicle owner's manual should have more information on where these mounting points are located.
- Place wooden blocks underneath the tires to keep the suspension from being fully extended while the vehicle is on jack stands.
- Make sure the parking brake is disengaged before leaving the vehicle on jack stands. Otherwise, the parking brake can bind and cause the rear brakes to lock up.
Take the Tires Off
If you want to be certain that your tires won't develop flat spots, then your best option is to remove the tires from the vehicle and store them in a safe place. Fortunately, you don't have to go as far as removing the actual tire from its rim, although this is an option if you plan on using the rim for a different set of tires (i.e. switching from summer to winter tires).
Lay the tires on their side and stack them up in a safe corner of your garage or storage area. You can also store them on a tire rack, if you happen to have one.
Here are a few preparation tips you can use to ensure that your tires hold up over the long term:
- Clean your tires before storing them. Your tires might look clean to you, but bits of dirt and brake dust can gradually degrade the rubber compound as time goes on. Use a soft-bristle brush and a mild detergent to get the job done.
- Keep your tires away from direct sunlight. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation found in sunlight can cause the rubber to degrade, causing those tell-tale cracks along the surface that are often indicative of dry rotting.
- Fill your tires to the correct air pressure for your vehicle prior to storing them. Also, keep an eye on tire pressures throughout the storage period, as pressures can rise and fall with temperature changes.
These tips can help you keep your tires from developing those troublesome flat spots during storage. For more information and tips, contact a local tire shop.