Flat spots on rear tires

I bought 4 tires for my nissan altima about 2 years ago, and have put about 32,000 miles on them. It’s my wife’s car (but I also drove the car to work for a portion of that time). I hadn’t driven it in a while but notice a loud tire noise recently… so we took it back to the shop I bought the tires from and they rotated the tires. That made the noise much louder since they put the tires with the issue on the front. We took it back again and they rotated them back they way there were… The shop told me that we have flat spots on the two rear tires. He also said the tires are squared. He said this happened because we didn’t rotate the tires enough. I am disappointed since we bring the car into that shop for oil changes, etc. We also use other shop too… but I don’t recall this shop recommending the tires being rotated, but they did recommend other work at one visit. We thought we were buying better tires when we bought them. They have a 60,000 mile warranty rating… so I was hoping we could get them could get them replace under the warranty and pay a prorated amount based on the mileage we have on the tires… so far the guy at the shop is not budging off that it’s our fault for not having the tires rotated. I have been driving cars and replacing tires for over 30 years and haven’t had this type of issue with tires up to this point. I still don’t know if I believe it’s solely a tire rotation issue as the shop is trying to say. My experience with a lack of tire rotation or bad alignment is related to wear on the edges of the tires, not flat spots. I can think of other reasons why there could be flat spots like having to stop quick an lock the brakes up… but my wife and I don’t recall having to do that since we had these newer tires. I’d like to get anyone’s thoughts on what might have caused the flat spots, if it is related to the tire rotation, and if this should be covered under the road tire warranty.

Most tire tread wear warranties mention that the tires need to be rotated on a specific schedule, and there is also frequently a notation about wheel alignment. If your 60k warranty mentions those procedures and you didn’t have them done, then all of this is on your shoulders.

Please read the details of that warranty and report back to us.

What year is the Altima? How many miles are on it?
What kind of tires are they; make, model, and size?
Did the shop show you the anomalies?
Hit any potholes where you live? Did the shop check the rims?

Two points:

  1. it’s perfectly normal for tires to get noisier as they wear. Some get very noisy.
  2. A 60,000 mile wear warranty doe not mean the tires will be safe for 60,000 miles. It means that IF YOU ROTATE THEM, maintain t he proper pressure, and the car is in otherwise good shape, they should take about 60,000 miles to get to the absolute legal minimum of 2/32". I’ve attached a link to good information about tire wear.

The flat spotting/cupping of the tires might be caused from worn rear struts/shocks.

If the worn struts/shocks can’t hold the tires to the road, the tires can start to bounce. Each time the tires come in contact with road surface when they bounce it scrubs rubber off the tires and this creates flat spots/cupping.

Here’s an example of tire bounce.


I see cars with bad struts bouncing down the road. The other thing is out of balance tire or bent rims. Throwing a wieght off the rim happens all the time.

I love that video.

Pretty amazing video by Tester. That tire is spending more time airborne than it is in contact with the asphalt.

The other amazing part of it is that he driver of that vehicle is still alive. Maybe.

I wonder about the mindset of someone driving a car in that condition. One would think that the vibration would drive them nuts or there would be some random thought about dying crossing their mind…

Thank you for your quick responses. The car is a 2010 Altima and has about 80,000 miles on it… again, 32K in the last 2 years on these new tires. The tires are BF Goodrich 215/60/R16 Advantage T/A…. They were recommended by the shop as a better tire than the original tires we had on the car that lasted 50K miles and did not have this noise. There was no drastic change in driving style, miles per year, maintenance, etc from the original tires and the new tires.

I have the original receipt and a pamphlet from the shop with their general requirements for tire warranties. I don’t have anything specific from the manufacturer other than what the shop verbally told us on the 60K wear rating when we bought the tires. Basically the shop warranty states the following-

• They will repair punctures for free.
• They will rotate the tires for free every 6,000 miles.
• They will provide free computer spin balancing for free every 6,000 miles.
• Road hazard coverage.
• User Obligations – doesn’t specifically say I have to rotate the tires every 6,000 miles.
• There is a reference to the Manufacturer Warranty but again I don’t have a copy of it.

I think we had the tires rotated once during the time we had them from another shop but I can’t find a record of that… The other thing I didn’t mention in my original post is that one tire had to be replaced at 8,000 miles by the shop that we bought the tires from. They replaced that tire for free. It was an issue under the road hazard warranty. There is no record that they rotated the tires on my receipt from the replacement of that one tire. I asked the guy at the shop recently if they rotated the tires on that visit and he said NO… When they replace one tire they just replace it and don’t rotate the tires. I didn’t read thru the warranty closely until just now…. but I am not understanding why they didn’t rotate the tires then since there warranty says they will do it for free at 6,000 miles and the tires had 8,000 miles on them at that point. Again, reading what I have from the shop on the warranty I don’t see that I HAVE to rotate the tires every 6,000 miles, only that they will do it for free every 6,000 miles.

The tires have good tread depth. The shop said the tires are safe and the treads aren’t worn beyond normal for the mileage… As far as the noise I have never heard a noise this LOUD from a tire… even compared to tires that I have had that had treads completely worn. It was really LOUD when the bad (flat spot) tires were on the front of the car… To the point that I told my wife it’s not safe. It’s so loud you wouldn’t know if there was another noise from the car for some other repair that may be needed.

My other question that I am still not clear on…. Is WHY did not rotating the tires every 6,000 miles cause “flat spots”, and why ONLY on the two rear tires?? Again, the shop is not claiming that the problem could have been caused from anything else other than not rotating the tires enough.

My wife and I both drove the car during the 32,000 miles on the tires. To my knowledge neither of us hit a pot hole or had to stop suddenly. I don’t know if the shop checked the rims. I didn’t notice any damage to the rims, but I also didn’t think to look at this too close.

They may well rotate the tires free at the 6k point, but you have to ASK.

And it’s your responsibility to rotate the tires, as well as maintain the rest of the car.

What shape are your shocks in? My guess is pretty bad.

“They may well rotate the tires free at the 6k point, but you have to ASK.”

Since people tend to complain about the delivery of services that were not requested, nobody in his right mind is going to voluntarily/unilaterally do any kind of service that was not specifically requested–even if it is free.

Unless the OP can give us evidence to the contrary, it appears to me that he and/or his wife never asked for their tires to be rotated. And, with 80k miles on the odometer, it is entirely possible that the rear struts are worn out.

I think that these tires are merely the victim of lax maintenance.

Again, the way I read my warranty it doesn’t say I HAVE to rotate the tires every 6K as a condition of the warranty, but I guess I will take that up with the shop not that I have read this closer.

Thank you for the video… I buy that has a possible cause much more than the tire rotation. I am going to take the car to another shop and have them check out the rims, shocks, or anything else that could have caused the tire damage. The place I bought the tires from isn’t looking at that stuff. I think they are more about not having to cover replacing a portion of the damaged tires, than helping us with a real solution.

Also, the current solution from the shop I bought the tires from is to leave all the tires at the original location to address the noise issue… following that I wouldn’t rotate the tires again so they’d just get worst… That is IF the tire rotation is what caused the damage.

VDCdriver - thanks… but odd thing to me is that I didn’t have to ASK for the shop to suggest I needed my coolant flushed, which they suggested, and I had them do when they replaced the 1 damaged tire… so they will suggest maintenance that I have to pay for… but not maintenance for tires that I bought from them, that they will do for free under the warranty, that they could have done, or could have suggested that I do when I had my car in their shop. To me that’s not good customer service. They are experts and do this all day long. In my profession if I knew a client was overlooking something that would cost them more money in the long run, I’d say something.

Did you go back and ask them to rotate them at 6, 12, 18, 24, 30. If not it’s on you.

Flat spots are caused by weak shocks/struts or out of balance tires. I don’t see rotation as the cause of this problem but of course without actually seeing the wear pattern I could be wrong.

Sometimes wear patterns will have a definition that varies person to person. You can see this with tread “cupping” and “feather edging”. Sometimes those two are crossed up.

Remember too that some tires get noisy as they wear. Tire Rack and 1010 tires have great customer feedback sites. I’ve linked one in, and it seems these tires have a reputation for being noisy.

One other suggestion. IF you end up getting your struts replaced, have them replace the spring mounts, rubber travel stops, strut mounts, and all the other rubbery bits as well. It doesn’t add much to the cost and it can substantially reduce road noise. The spring mounts are continually under a great deal of compression, constantly subjected to continuously varying high compression, and… like all rubber… become hard over time. This substantially reduces their ability to absorb vibration. Many shops will not automatically change the rubbery bits, moving the old ones from the old struts to the new struts, but they really do make a big and very noticeable difference in returning your ride to like-new performance and quietude. This may not be the main cause of your problem, but it sure can make a difference.

Can you see or feel any irregularity in the tread? Like OK said, I don’t see how lack of rotating the tires would cause ‘flat spotting’. But a lot depends on what exactly is wrong with the tires.

If the tires are bad enough to be causing that much noise I would think we would be able to see some irregularity on the tread. Can you take pictures of the offending tires and post them?

I disagree that flat spotting of rear tires on a front drive car is due to failing shocks/struts. Between my wife and myself we have bought at least a dozen brand new cars since 1981, all except two of which were front drivers.

I have done maintenance on all of these cars including tire rotations. Rear drivers are not as sensitive to tire rotation as are front drivers and not all rear drivers are equally in need for timely tire rotation. I do not know why at this time if the tires or the rear suspension design of a front driver are responsible for flat spotting of rear tires that are not rotated in a timely manner. It is not a surprise to hear that rotating flat spotted tires makes the tire noise louder. It also seems apparent to me that the tire rotation schedule must be more frequent early in the life of a tire and can be relaxed a little as the tires become worn.

One thing that can not help you or others is that a flat spotted rear tire having a narrow width such as a 155/80R13 will eventually correct itself and become quiet again when installed on the front. Tires are wide now and noisy wide tires will not correct themselves when installed on the front. I still have an old car with narrow tires and have observed more than once that noisy, narrow tires will need a few thousand miles to become quiet again after being rotated. You could say that I have learned what I have posted here by being tardy about tire rotations.

I had flat spotting on a rear tire on a FWD Buick Park. A four wheel alignment took care of the problem after new tires. It was delivered from the factory that way.