Run-Flat Tyres | Pros and Cons

A run-flat tyre is a pneumatic vehicle tyre that is designed to resist the effects of deflation when punctured. Several tyre manufacturers have developed run-flat tyre technologies. Run-flat tyres are handy when on a journey and you do not have a spare tyre. Subsequently, some vehicle manufacturers adopted this tyres as OE in a bid to increase customers satisfaction.

Self-supporting run flat tyre systems

The main type of run-flat technology in use today is the self supporting tyre. The tyre’s sidewall is reinforced to support the vehicle’s weight in the event of a flat.
Unlike other types of run-flats, this design allows tyres to be placed on any rim. The tyre is constructed with rubber compounds that prevent tyre destruction with excessive flexing, allowing a vehicle to brake, accelerate, and steer reliably for a given distance. *Reference to guidelines on individual tyre’s range of operation in the event of a flat, is required.

The diagram below shows a self supporting system developed by Dunlop.

Live - DSST Image
Dunlop’s DSST run-flat system

Advantages of Run-flat tyres

  1. Safety
    • With the RFT at high speed, you are able to control and drive the car to a safe location in the event of a puncture.
    • You do not have the tedious or messy, in case of rain, and sometimes dangerous task of changing tyres, especially along highways, crowded or deserted roads.
  2. Convenience
    • RFTs eliminate the spare wheel and tyre repair tools, freeing up extra space in the vehicle.
    • No spare tyre theoretically means less vehicle weight and better fuel economy. But it’s not as much as you might expect because run-flat tyres weigh more than regular tyres due to the added sidewall reinforcement.

Disadvantages of Run-flat Tyres

  1. Typically costlier than conventional tyres. On average, run flat tyres are about 40% more expensive than regular tyres.
  2. They don’t provide as much grip in low temperatures.
  3. Studies show that people replaced their run-flat tyres sooner than owners using conventional tyres. Opinions differ on the reason, but one theory is that tyre makers put a soft tread compound on a run-flat tyre to counter the hard ride. A side effect of the softer compound is a shorter tread life. Actual data on the longevity of run-flat tyres have been hard to find. Owners reported higher overall satisfaction with run-flat tyres.

Concerns

  1. As of 2019, the run flat tyre market is mainly driven by car manufacturers and original equipment.
  2. Unreasonable tyre life and unexpectedly high replacement costs, has been observed, as compared to regular tyres.
  3. The safety benefits of run-flat tyres are arguably insignificant as to outweigh any possible trade-offs.
  4. Because run-flats aren’t a big-selling tyre, drivers shouldn’t expect to roll into just any tyre shop and buy one. If you’re a run-flat user on a road trip and get a flat, you’ll probably have to ground, waiting for the tyre to be shipped.

Make an Informed Purchase

Run-flat tyres seem to have more downsides than upsides, but many people swear by them. Take the time to seek customer reviews and know what tyres come standard on a car you are about to purchase.

Cautions

  1. A Run-flat tyre is not a “Puncture Free” tyre.
  2. Tyre repair is not recommended on RFTs for safety reasons, because no one can judge the degree of tyre damage after flat running.
  3. If original equipment is RFT, most probably the vehicle is not equipped with a spare tyre. In that case, replacement tyre should be ONLY RunFlat tyre for safety reasons.
  4.  Run Flat tyres must ALWAYS operate together with tyre pressure monitoring systems. Since they do not bulge if the air pressure is low, the driver may never know they have a flat, which could lead to tyre failure.
  5. Most Run Flat tyres have a visible RFT logo on the sidewall for clear identification.

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