RUN FLAT TIRES
Tire blowouts never occur at an opportune time. Whether you are doing it yourself or calling roadside assistance, changing a flat is inconvenient and can even be dangerous depending on where you are forced to remedy the situation. Run-flat tires were created about three decades ago to combat the inconvenience of changing a flat.
What Are Run-Flat Tires?
As the name states, run-flat tires are tires that you can continue driving on despite them being punctured. You can't drive on punctured run-flat tires forever - manufacturers warn that after 50-100 miles they will have lost too much air pressure to be safe - but typically you'll have enough time to find a service station or at least a safe place to change out your tire. Additionally, you'll need to slow down, as manufacturers recommend not breaching 50 miles per hour on a punctured run-flat tire.
How Do Run-Flat Tires Work?
Run-flat tires use either the support ring system or the self-supporting system. Self-supporting run-flat tires can support your car despite air loss because of their reinforced sidewalls. The sidewalls maintain their integrity for an extended period of time after a puncture, which allows you to continue driving.
Support ring systems add a ring of hard rubber or similar compound that supports your car's weight after air loss.
It is important to remember that run-flat tires should only be installed on cars that feature a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). TPMS alerts you when a tire begins to lose air pressure, and because run-flat tires are designed to continue rolling despite a puncture, you might not know if you are driving on an underinflated tire otherwise.
Benefits of Run-Flat Tires
- Enable you to continue driving to a safe location to change out a blown tire.
- Offer more stability than conventional tires if they experience a rapid decrease in air pressure.
Drawbacks of Run-Flat Tires
- Should only be used on vehicles with a TPMS system.
- Studies show run flat tires experience tread wear faster their traditional counterparts.
- Less available than traditional tires.
- Normally more expensive to replace than traditional tires.
- Usually cannot be repaired and must be replaced if punctured.
- Reinforced sidewalls mean a bumpier ride than on traditional tires.