Run Flat Tyres: Everything You Need to Know
Most of us will have the unfortunate experience of a flat tyre at some point in our driving careers. A puncture or blowout can be a major inconvenience and stopping roadside to replace a tyre is less than ideal. But more than that, driving with a flat or attempting to change a tyre on the side of a busy highway is a dangerous business. That’s where run flat tyres could offer a simple solution.
But what are run flat tyres? How do they work? And, are they the right choice for my car? We’ve got the answers.
What are run flat tyres?
Run flat tyres are specially designed tyres that allow you to continue driving when you have a flat. They keep all of the parts of your tyre secure after a puncture or a blowout. However, they only function safely for a limited time and usually give you 50km – 100km of extra drive with a flat tyre. This gives you enough time to get to your nearest tyre shop or mechanic or find a safe place off the busy roads to change your tyre.
How do run flat tyres work?
There are two types of run-flat-tyres available on the market: self-supporting and support ring tyres. Each is designed to enable driving in the event of a flat tyre. Neither is a permanent solution, rather a band aid until you, or a tyre professional can safely change your tyre.
Self-supporting run flat tyres
Image: [DK1] self-supporting-run-flat-tyres
Self-supporting run flat tyres are the most commonly used option. They have a reinforced sidewall which supports your car and keeps your tyres functioning without air pressure.
Support ring run flat tyres
Image: [DK2] support-ring-run-flat-tyres
Support ring run flat tyres are created with a ring of hard rubber or similar
structure that can support your car in the event of a flat.
What are the pros of run flat tyres?
You can continue driving with a flat tyre
The main benefit of run flat tyres is the ability to continue driving with a flat. This means you don’t have to get out of your car on a busy highway or in an unsafe area to change a tyre. If you don’t know how to change a tyre or worse still, you don’t have a spare tyre, you won’t need to waste hours waiting for roadside assistance to come to your rescue.
Run flat tyres are made to support your car for many miles without air pressure.
This means that if you find yourself in a blowout situation, you’ll maintain better control of your steering and handling than you would with regular tyres.
What are the cons of run flat tyres?
Speed and distance restrictions
Driving with a run flat tyre after a puncture or blowout is not the same as driving with fully functioning tyres and they come with specific speed and distance restrictions. Run flat tyres are only a temporary solution and it’s recommended that as soon as you are aware that you have a flat, you make your way straight to the tyre or auto shop for a replacement.
Stiffer ride quality
The reinforced sidewalls within run flat tyres can result in a stiffer ride quality. Some cars that are manufactured with run flat tyres as standard have fine-tuned suspension to compensate for the rougher ride but other cars may feel a noticeable difference.
It’s harder to tell when your tyres are low on air
Run flat tyres are designed to maintain their stiff structure even when they are low on air. This makes it almost impossible to notice a flat tyre unless you have a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) installed in your car.
Most modern cars come equipped with a TPMS which alerts the driver in the event of a sudden loss of pressure. The system will alert you of reduced air pressure via a display on the dashboard of your vehicle. At which time you will need to apply distance and speed restrictions to your driving until your tyre is replaced. Read more about TPMS.
Can you repair run flat tyres?
Run flat tyres can be repaired in some circumstances but this will vary depending on the make, model and severity of the damage to the tyre. A tyre professional will be able to assess your tyres and make the best recommendation for you.
Can I install run flat tyres on my car?
Installation of run flat tyres should always be done on the advice of a professional tyre fitter. If your car wasn’t designed with run flat tyres in mind, some other adjustments to your suspension might be needed or your car may not be suitable for them at all so it’s always better to chat to a pro before deciding on run flat tyres for your car.
Run flat tyres: are they right for me?
Run flat tyres make sense for vehicles that don’t have space for a spare tyre or for drivers looking for a temporary solution in the event of a flat tyre. They offer peace of mind and the knowledge you won’t ever get stuck roadside or in an unsafe area if you get a flat. However, they do come with restrictions and aren’t appropriate for every car.
Find out whether your car is a good fit for run flat tyres