Can Inactivity Affect My Tyres?
During the past lockdown year, many people have found themselves using their cars less and less over the past few months. With non-essential travel being restricted and many businesses working from home, the need to use cars has dwindled. But can this have a negative effect on the cars themselves?
We previously talked about how to look after your car batteries during lockdown, but now we want to focus on another crucial element when it comes to keeping you safe on the road – tyres.
Even before the lockdown, it’s not necessarily uncommon for people to leave their cars parked for long stretches; whether it’s for a few days, or a few weeks at a time. And while this isn’t likely to cause too many issues, it’s a good idea to have a think about things like tyre pressure and puncture prevention to help you avoid any unnecessary tyre repairs.
What Causes Tyre Damage?
Your tyres experience a lot of wear and tear, meaning there are a lot of instances where they can encounter damage. When your car is stationary, there are less opportunities for them to get damaged, but the risk isn’t entirely removed.
One condition that can affect inactive cars is known as flat spotting. This happens when the tyres have been stationary under a car for a long period of time, essentially causing a flat spot in the area where the tyre meets the ground. The severity of the flat spot – and how long it will last – comes down to things like how heavy the car is, the amount of time it’s been still, tyre pressure, and even the weather outside.
To prevent this, try and move your car weekly – even if it’s just rolling forwards or backwards a little to shift the weight onto a new spot. Also, make sure that your tyres are properly inflated. If you notice a disturbance or vibration when you drive your car after a period of inactivity, then consider visiting your local garage to check out whether you have semi-permanent flat spotting. They can help explain how to fix it, or whether a tyre replacement is required.
You may find that your tyres lose pressure, or start to slightly deflate, over time while the car is immobile. This is because rubber is porous and air molecules can make their way through the rubber slowly over a period of time. Having tyres that aren’t properly inflated can result in poor handling, and potentially even a loss of vehicle control.
Tyres also degrade naturally through exposure to heat, sunlight, and rain, with the amount of damage depending on the level of exposure. Keep in mind that rubber is a natural material, and try and store your car someone sheltered and dry where possible. If you do keep your car stationary in a garage, then make sure that it’s well ventilated, and not damp.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that old tyres are likely to suffer more from inactivity than newer tyres. Fortunately, all tyres should have the date that they were manufactured listed on their sidewall, so it’s worth taking a look and seeing if you may be due a tyre change. It’s recommended that all tyres that are 10 years old or more should be replaced, whether they have been in use or not, even if they’re not outwardly showing signs of damage.
Avoiding Unnecessary Punctures and Repairs
In order to avoid unnecessary repairs, or even tyre replacements, there are some tips and tricks that you can follow to prevent damage from occurring while your car is inactive:
– Keep your tyres at the correct level of tyre pressure, to mitigate the chances of flat spotting occurring. You can usually find information on what your specific model’s tyre pressure should be in either the manufacturer’s handbook, in the driver’s door area, or inside the fuel filler flap.
– Regularly rotate your tyres and ensure that you’re moving your car, even if it’s not far, to promote even wear, and to avoid too much weight sitting on one area of the tyre for too long.
– Store your car in a dry, sheltered place if you can, out of direct sunlight.
– Don’t forget to check your tread. Now’s a good time to make sure that your car tyres have enough tread to keep you safe on the road once you’re back on the move. If the tread depth falls below 1.6mm, then your tyres would be illegal, and would require immediate replacement.
– Check the age of your tyres, and keep this in mind when it comes to monitoring for damage. If your car tyres are more than 6 years old, then you may want to increase your checks and maintenance procedures in order to keep them safe; or, consider a tyre change.
– Before driving your car after a long period of inactivity, do visual checks of the tyres before you set off – keeping an eye out for any damage or cracks which may have appeared. It’s also a good idea to check the tyre pressure, and inflate if needed.
Need More Information on Tyre Replacement?
If you do find yourself in the unfortunate situation of encountering tyre damage while in lockdown, then don’t panic. We’re here to help, just pop down to Roadwheel or give us a call! We also offer a mobile service, so if you’re not able to leave the house then we can come to you.