Bradley Jando | Wednesday 8th September 2021 5:10pm
Can inactivity affect my tyres?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people found themselves using their cars less and less over the past few months. As non-essential travel was restricted and many people work from home, the need to use cars dwindled. But does inactivity actually have an effect on cars?
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.
It isn't uncommon for people to leave their cars parked for long periods of time. And while this isnít likely to cause too many issues, itís a good idea to consider factors like tyre pressure and puncture prevention to help you avoid unnecessary tyre repairs.
What causes tyre damage?
Your tyres experience a lot of wear and tear when in use. When your car is stationary, however, there are less opportunities for its tyres to get damaged - but the risk isnít entirely removed.
When the tyres have been stationary under a car for a long period of time, flat spotting can occur. This essentially causes a flat spot in the area where the tyre meets the ground. The severity of the flat spot and how long it will last depends on how heavy the car is, the amount of time itís been stationary, tyre pressure, and even the weather outside.
To prevent flat spotting, try to move your car weekly - even if itís 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 while itís not enough to cause an issue normally, air molecules can make their way through the rubber slowly over a period of time. Having tyres that arenít 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 to store your car somewhere sheltered and dry where possible. If you do keep your car stationary in a garage, then make sure that itís well ventilated, and not damp.
Finally, itís 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 itís worth taking a look and seeing if you may be due a tyre change. Itís recommended that all tyres that are 10 years old or more should be replaced, whether they have been in use or not - and even if theyíre not outwardly showing signs of damage. If youíre not sure how to find out how old your tyres are, take a look at our handy tyre age guide.
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 modelís tyre pressure should be in either the manufacturerís handbook, in the driverís door area, or inside the fuel filler flap. Alternatively, check out our handy tyre pressure search tool.
- Regularly rotate your tyres and ensure that youíre moving your car, even if itís 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 out of direct sunlight if you can.
- Donít forget to check your tread. Nowís a good time to make sure that your car tyres have enough tread to keep you safe on the road once youíre 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. Itís 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 donít panic. Weíre here to help. Find out more about tyre repairs on our website, or head to your local Kwik Fit centre to talk to one of our experts about your tyre replacements.
Once youíre back on the road more often, consider booking a free tyre safety check with one of our trained technicians, who can help to make sure that your tyres wonít be slowing you down any time soon.
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