Almost everyone, at some point in his or her driving experience, will slam on the brakes. Slamming on the brakes is generally more than just an emotional response to a situation. When you're avoiding an accident or reacting to unexpected flashing lights at a pedestrian crosswalk, there is an overriding element of safety involved, and slamming on the brakes is an appropriate response to the panic situation.
Now that you’ve slammed on your brakes, you need to determine if you've done any damage. It’s possible that you’ve worn a flat spot on your tires. When you slam on the brakes, several results are possible:
- Your brakes locked up
- Your car skidded without steering control
- You heard a loud screech until you came to a stop
- There was a repetitive chattering or chirping
- You came to a controlled stop
If you came to a controlled stop, no matter how hard you had to brake, it's unlikely you created a flat spot on your tires. Nearly all new vehicles are equipped with anti-lock braking systems (ABS) to prevent loss of control and skidding when the brakes are applied. The ABS repetitively activates the brakes dozens of times every second to prevent the brakes from locking up in hard braking or slippery situations.
If you did not have proper control of your steering, or if your brakes screeched the whole time you were coming to a stop, your vehicle likely isn’t equipped with anti-lock brakes or they weren’t working properly. In this case, you may have worn flat spots on the tires that locked up when braking. Have your tires inspected at your earliest convenience as tires with a flat spot can cause several issues, such as:
- A shimmy in the steering wheel when driving
- Decreased fuel economy due to increased rolling resistance
- An increased likelihood of loss of traction in future situations
If you’ve locked up your brakes and think you may have worn a flat spot, you should have your tires inspected by one of our mechanics and have it replaced if necessary. It's not possible to correct a flat spot on a tire other than by replacing the tire.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as I Hit the Brakes Very Hard. Did I Create a Flat Spot on My Tires? and was authored by Jason Unrau.