What are run-flat tyres and are they worth it?
With less newer cars coming with full size, or even smaller spare wheels, some car manufacturers have opted to have them fitted with run flat tyres.
But with all the tyre jargon up in the air, it can be hard to really understand what run-flat tyres are and where to start with them too. Hopefully we can help!
What are run-flat tyres?
Run-flat tyres are there to keep you moving should the worst happen, and you get a puncture.
Run-flat tyres give you the opportunity to keep moving and get to a safe place to change the tyre, whilst hopefully avoiding being stuck at the side of the road. They are usually fitted to cars with a Tyre Pressure Warning System so you are aware of the puncture and can tend to it as soon as possible without causing damage to the wheel.
But, be mindful that if you do get a puncture on run-flat tyres, you cannot drive as you normally would. Different manufacturers have different speeds and distance which they recommend driving on run-flat tyres, so ensure you check your manufacturer’s specifications. But, you’ll definitely have to drive slowly and carefully and only for a limited distance.
How do run-flat tyres work?
In order to keep you moving without air pressure, run-flat tyres are designed with a reinforced sidewall to try and keep the shape of the tyre with the car’s weight on top of it.
This means that the rubber won’t “give” as much, and will be able to keep its shape a lot better than regular tyres. So you’ll be able to get out of danger and get to a safe location to replace your tyre without too many issues.
Advantages of run-flat tyres and things to consider
· Most run-flat tyres will be able to get you 50 miles at 50mph (depending on the manufacturer – always check first) should you get a puncture, which should be plenty to get to a garage and replace it.
· You won’t have the extra weight of a heavy spare wheel in the boot.
· You may not get stuck on the hard shoulder (where over 100 people are killed or injured every year1.)
Things to consider
· The cost - not surprisingly, run-flat tyres are a little more expensive that regular tyres. But unless you have another means of keeping you moving, if your car is already equipped with them then we recommend that they are replaced with more run-flats.
· It is recommended that you don’t use run-flat tyres alongside regular tyres as they handle differently and suspension is usually configured for one or the other.
· You generally have to replace run-flat tyres rather than repairing them.
· If you do want to put run-flat tyres on your car, we wouldn’t recommend you do this without a Tyre Pressure Warning system. This is because you may be unaware that there is a puncture in your tyre until it is too late and damages the wheel.
How can I tell if my car has run flat tyres?
Usually if you have bought a car from a reputable dealer or garage, and don’t have a spare wheel or expansion foam in the boot, then the likelihood is that you have run flat tyres.
Some manufacturers have a label on the tyre that says “run-flat” to make them easily identifiable.
Otherwise, there are an abundance of codes that can be found on your tyres like RFT (run-flat tyres) SSR (self-supporting run-flat) and others such as ROF RSC, EMPT and ZP. The best thing to do is have a look in your manufacturer handbook or ask an expert so you know exactly what they mean.
Also, has your car got a tyre pressure warning light? Chances are, if your car is fitted with a tyre pressure warning system then it’s running on run-flat tyres so you can be alerted if there is a problem.