Tyres are indeed one of the most important parts of your car. Not only do good tyres ensure your safety, but they also give you a smooth driving experience. Among the tyre types in the market, run flat (or self-supporting) tyres may be appealing to most people, especially those who frequently experience tyre punctures.
That is because run flat tyres are invented to keep working for a limited amount of time after they suffer from a puncture. In other words, they will give you up to an extra 50 miles at a speed of 30 mph. Therefore, if you have your car installed run flat tyres, you will not need to perform an uncomfortable tyre change when facing a puncture in the dark, on a rough road or in the middle of nowhere. Instead, you can get your car home or a garage for replacing.
It will be very annoying if your car get a puncture in middle of nowhere.
How do run flat tyres work?
The innovative secret lies behind run flat tyres is pretty simple. Their sidewall is reinforced so that it can be stiff enough to withstand the weight of the whole car. The tough rubber in the sidewalls temporarily prevents the inflated tyres from receiving serious damage caused by the state of driving continuously, being punctured and losing air.
However, manufacturers advise against driving self-supporting tyres exceeding the recommended distance. Run flat tyres only help you continue driving to a safe place where you can easily get them replaced or save your time when you are in a hurry and want to fix the tyre issue later.
Here is a video to help you know more about how run flat tyres function.
How run flat tyres work
Advantages of run flat tyres
1. Let you keep driving when the air is leaving the tyres
Indeed, this is the purpose of run flat tyre. As mentioned earlier, run flat tyres are extremely useful when you are facing punctures in difficult conditions such as the rain, the cold, traffic jams or the dark. But remember to check your owner’s manual to know the exact speed limit and distance the sidewalls can withstand.
You can continue driving even there is little air inside a run flat tyre.
2. Provide better stability when facing blowouts
Acting as a supporting frame, the sidewalls can share the sudden pressure with the tread when a blowout happens. For this reason, handling and steering may remain almost normal.
3. Save space, less weight
If you buy cars with run flat tyres as original equipment, you will notice that there wouldn’t be any spare wheels or tyres. With those repair tools left out, the car should theoretically weigh less. However, run flat tyres are a little heavier than conventional one because of its sidewall reinforcement, but the adding weight is not much. Moreover, with more space from the rear, you can have extra seats or storage.
Disadvantages of run flat tyres
1. Run flat tyres may wear faster
In 2013, J.D. Power conducted a study and found that, on average, run flat tyres were replaced 6,000 miles sooner than conventional tyres. Though there have been various explanations for this, an appealing theory states that softer tread materials may be used on run flat tyres to deak with the hard ride. Hence, this creates a short tread life. Unfortunately, we cannot know the exact lifespan of a run flat tyres, but we all know that good maintenance (like proper air pressure) will ensure a longer life. Nevertheless, according to the study, run flat tyres undoubtedly received higher satisfaction when being compared to conventional tyres.
Run flat tyres may wear out faster than conventional tyres, but they provide unique advantages.
2. It would be hard to tell whether the tyres are running out air
A deadly disadvantage of using run flat tyres is that it is difficult to know if the tyres run out of air, or whether you have already exceeded the speed/distance limit. If those situations take place, the tyres can be severely damaged and would lead to fatal accidents. Therefore, you had better install a TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) to frequently check the run flat tyres’ pressure.
3. Run flat tyres offer more uncomfortable rides
In exchange for extra miles after a puncture, you have to suffer a more uncomfortable ride with run flat tyres. Because of the reinforced sidewalls, run flat tyres are not as elastic as conventional tyres. Fortunately, nowadays, if you buy a car coming with run flat tyres, the manufacturer often tuned the suspension to counter the bumpy ride.
4. Run flat tyres cost more and nearly cannot be repaired
As a special tyre type, run flat tyres are more expensive than conventional tyres. And one bad news is that almost no one agrees to fix a punctured run flat tyre. So users of the tyres have to purchase new ones.
When a run flat tyre is damage, the best solution is to get a new one.
5. This type of tyre has limited availability
Because not so many people choose run flat tyres, there is little hope in finding the tyres in remote areas or small tyre shops. However, things are easier in big cities where you can get run flat tyres in almost any garages.
Can run flat tyres be mixed with other types of tyre?
Because tyre types differ from one another, combining run flat tyres and conventional tyres is likely to create difficulty in handling. To be more specific, many conventional tyres can be mixed in a car as long as they have the same specifications and handling characteristics; however, run flat tyres don’t have such characteristics because their structure and purpose is different. Therefore, the tyres that have reinforced sidewalls cannot be mixed with the regular type.
Because of the special stiff sidewalls, run flat tyres are listed in a distinctive category.
Here’s a small tip for you, when buying a brand new car or a second hand car, you had better check which type of tyre it requires. If you find there’s no spare tyre, there will be a high chance that the car is using run flat tyres. Or you can check the owner’s manual for more detailed information of the tyre type. You can try mixing tyre type for your own good, but always remember that the manufacturers ‘ instructions/recommends is the best advice.
Where can people get run flat tyres in India?
Prices vary, but you can look for online stores like IndiaMART or large garages in order to buy good run flat tyres. Moreover, BMW claims that run flat tyres are exclusively available at all authorized BMW dealerships, so go to one of these places and you may get the exact tyre you want.