Search Form for vehicle model, tire size or rims Choose a tab below to get fitment data for your vehicle or to find vehicles matching your criteria.
Wheels Articles Back to List of articles
Run Flat Tires: How Do They Work
So what exactly are run flat tires? In short, run flat tires are exactly what they say they are. They are tires that are able to run even when you have a puncture that would cause other tires to go flat and be unusable. These tires can work even when there is no air in them and can be driven at remarkably high speeds for a fairly long period of time — allowing users to get to a mechanics to have their tire fixed or changed should they need. In fact, most run flat tires can run at maximum speeds of 50mph for a maximum of 50 miles.
The reason that run flat tires are capable of doing this is that they are manufactured with reinforced sidewalls that gives them the strength to be able to be used as normal for a short time. For most of us with normal tires, this simply is not the case as continuing to drive with a flat tire that has been punctured will result in us driving on the rims of our car tires and therefore ruining them — and perhaps the car in the long run too.
Runflat tire repair kit by tyre drilled equipment puncture to block air flow out and fixed damage
How Do Run Flat Tires Work?
As briefly alluded to, run flat tires have reinforced sidewalls that mean that your tires still have enough support for your car’s weight so that it can continue to run while you a puncture. Many flat run tires do need an additional piece of equipment or software within the car however and the car’s inbuilt operating system. More specifically, the inbuilt operating systems needs to have a tire pressure monitoring system.
This is needed as, without it, you may continue to drive on your punctured tire for longer than you should as you won’t have known that you’ve incurred such damage. For, while run flat tires mean you can still drive at pretty good speeds for a fairly long distance, you will still need to make adjustments to your driving as well as your journey. In short, the system will alert you when you have had a puncture so that you can immediately make a detour to change your destination to an autoshop.
What Are The Benefits Of Run Flat Tires?
Other than the fact that you can drive with that added assurance of knowing that even if you get a puncture, you can still drive to safety, there are a number of other advantages to having run flat tires installed on your car.
Firstly, if and when you do have a puncture, you will be able to drive the car safely. One of the reasons, other than harming your car’s integrity, that driving with a flat is so dangerous is that a normal flat tire can make a car difficult to control. The safety implications of this are huge. By driving with a flat tire, you will be putting yourself and your passengers, as well as other road users in danger.
Secondly, if you have ever had to change a flat tire, you will know that it can actually be a fairly precarious task depending on where you incur your puncture. If it is on the side of a busy road, it can mean that you have to change your tire in a dangerous spot. In fact, the side of the road is one of the most dangerous situations that you can put yourself in.
Finally, if you have a run flat tire, you free up so much space in your trunk. Spare tires take up a great deal of room so that when you are packing to go away on a big journey, not having one in your trunk is a huge advantage. Plus, the overall weight of your car is that much lighter too. As such, your car runs with a greater fuel efficiency for its life. Spare wheels are exceedingly heavy so can actually make a big difference if not kept in your trunk.
What Are The Disadvantages To Run Flat Tires?
The above advantages are obviously huge plus points to using run flat tires. Sadly, that does not mean they are not without their disadvantages. For instance, one of the biggest drawbacks to installing run flat tires on your car is that they are that much more expensive than the average, conventional tire.
This can have fairly big implications on the running costs of your car particularly as run flat tires are not interchangeable with normal tires. It can be so tempting to save money when you do incur a puncture on your run flat by installing a conventional tire in its place. However, this is not the best line of reasoning to follow as it leaves you stranded in future, should you incur another flat. For, while it is possible to put a conventional tire in the place of a run flat tire,if you do so, you won’t have then have the space in the trunk of your car to put a necessary spare in. This is because cars that are installed with run flats don’t keep spare tires in the trunk and manufacturers therefore do not leave in the trunk for a spare to be kept.
Another disadvantage to these sort of specialized tire is that run flat tires more often than not have to be completely replaced. Some conventional tires can simply be repaired which makes them cheaper again.
What Safety Precautions Should I Bear in Mind With Run Flat Tires?
There are number of safety precautions you should take into account when using run flat tires on your car. One, which has already been mentioned, is to stick to a maximum speed and distance as recommended by your tires’ manufacturer. In the main, this is likely to be 50 miles per hour for your top achievable speed and 50 miles as a maximum distance you should travel to your autoshop to have your puncture attended to.
It’s a good idea to bear in mind that one of the other reasons you should not replace a run flat tire with a conventional tire is that it is never a good idea safety wise. This is down to the fact that handling characteristics between tires can be very different so that it becomes dangerous to be on the road.
Finally, just because run flat tires can be used on the road for a short time after a puncture is incurred, it does not mean that they do not need regular replacing. In fact, run flat tires have the same lifespan as a conventional tire in terms of how quickly their treads will run down under a certain set of conditions, over a certain distance of time. As such, users still have to take the safety precaution to check their tires regularly to ensure they have not worn down so much that they are totally unfit for use.
Run Flat Tires: The Bottom Line
Bearing all this in mind, it is therefore ultimately up to the driver of a vehicle to decide whether installing a run flat tire on their car is the best way forward for them. For while they have their obvious benefits thanks to the improved fuel economy they can provide as well as the improved safety on the road, they are not without their disadvantages either. For some road users, those disadvantages will be too great to justify installing them on their car. However, for many, the knowledge that they will always be able to get to an auto shop safely without having to undergo a dangerous roadside tire change, will be too big a benefit to ignore. Without doubt, when properly used, run flat tires help drivers meet the highest standards possible in terms of safety and handling when driving any car.
Link to author: