Pros and Cons of Run-Flats
October 6, 2017
It’s something that every driver worries about – being stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. Not only is changing a flat on the side of a highway a dirty job, but the wait for roadside assistance may take upwards of an hour. Knowing how to change a tire is something that not everyone may be familiar with doing.
Enter the run-flat tire – a vehicle tire designed by tire makers to resist deflation when punctured. Depending on the model, the car can still be driven at reduced speeds for a limited distance, giving the driver enough time to reach a garage or service shop.
There are two types of run-flat tires currently available on the market. Self-supporting tires have sidewalls constructed of stiff rubber tough enough to carry the weight of the vehicle even with low tire pressure. Self-supporting tires are the more popular of the run-flat tires.
Auxiliary supported tires, on the other hand, rely on support rings attached to the wheel to support the vehicle’s weight.
Today, run-flats come as Original Equipment on a number of luxury and high-end vehicles. But are they really better than conventional tires?
Since spares aren’t needed, vehicles that are factory-equipped with run-flats don’t come with a spare or a spare tire well at all. The absence of a spare also means that you don’t have to carry a jack, lug wrench and other tools for changing a tire.
Run-flats can prevent blow-outs due to sudden loss of pressure and can keep a vehicle moving during a puncture, saving the driver the inconvenience of having to change tires in the middle of the road. Since they’re designed to resist the effects of deflation, handling remains near normal for the driver.
While this saves you time on the run, the run-flat can only go a certain distance before it becomes unsafe for you to drive with a punctured tire. Depending on the model, a run-flat can be good for up to 150 kilometres before needing to stop at a service shop. Consult your owner’s manual or tire maker’s specifications for details before hitting the road.
Unlike conventional tires, run-flats can’t be repaired – the whole tire must be replaced with a new one if damaged. The cost of a new run-flat could be up to 30 to 40 per cent higher than a new, conventional tire. In addition, you can’t change a run-flat yourself. Your only option is to leave it to the tire professionals at service shops.
Run-flats are also known to have less grip during cold and rainy weather and their thick sidewalls means that they absorb less shock, resulting in a less comfortable ride for both drivers and passengers.
The decision to opt for run-flats ultimately depends on your lifestyle and your priorities. Would you rather save the time and worry dealing with flat tires or would you rather fix it yourself and save some dollars?
Run-flats are not a permanent solution to having a punctured tire while on the road. Visit your local new car dealer for more information on flat-run tires and all things related to automobiles.
Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected].
Dealer Members with New Car Dealers Association
We represent more than 375 New Car Dealers throughout British Columbia.