Run Flat Tyres: The Advantages and Disadvantages of going “Flat”

Run Flat TyreIt would have been amazing to drive our cars safely on a flat tyre. Aside from the safety issue, getting a flat tyre somehow always happens at a time we could least afford. Run Flat Tyres are made because of these concerns with flat tyres. These are pneumatic tyres designed to withstand deflation when punctured and will allow the vehicles to be driven for limited distances of up to 100 to 320 miles depending on the type of tyre.  Run Flat Tyres have either a reinforced sidewall(usually tough rubber) or additional internal structure that allows support in case of deflation.

Runflat Tyres are divided into 2 types:

1. Self-Supporting – this type has a stiffer and tougher rubber that allows the tyres to temporarily carry the weight of vehicle under lower tyre pressure. However, for this type a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System is needed because it will be quite difficult to notice if the tyre is running on low pressure.

2. Auxiliary – this run flat tyre is attached to a special rim that has a steel support ring that is connected to wheel that allows the tyres to support the weight of the vehicle. Unlike the self-supporting types, these tyres do not have tougher and stiffer rubber.

Pros Of Run Flat Tyres

Car or Tyre manufacturers who use or create Run Flat Tyres believed  in the advantages these tyres offer.

1.  Safety – Run Flat Tyres could help prevent accidents resulting from tyre blow-outs or sudden loss of pressure. Run Flat Tyres, even when punctured could still allow the vehicle to be driven and handled like normal. Having this ability to handle the car normally  is essential particularly when a flat tyre happens while you are driving in a free way where traffic is heavy. Also the risks of changing tyres during peak hours in major free ways or highways are reduced. Safety is the main advantage and selling point of Run Flat Tyres.

2. Extra Space in the Boot – Run Flat Tyres eliminate the need for spare wheels and tyre-changing tools like jacks. Without the spare wheel, the load of our cars is also lessened. When travelling, this could mean an extra luggage or equipment could be placed in our vehicles.

3. Time – Run Flat Tyres are designed to allow cars to be driven even when flat(up to 100-320 miles depending on road and driving conditions). Run Flat Tyres could save us from being late for an important meeting or appointment due to flat tyres.  Or if not a meeting, we could drive to the nearest qualified service station to have the tyres changed.

RFT vs Standard Tyres

Cons Of Run Flat Tires

However, as good as it seems, somehow Run Flat Tyres have not been widely used. There are several reasons that could be attributed to the not so successful adaptation of Run Flat Tyres.

1. Costs – When they need to be replaced, these tyres costs 30%-40% more than the conventional tyres. And with the way the economy is right now,as it is right now, people tend to buy quality yet inexpensive goods. Using these tyres could also mean an additional costs to fuel consumption. The reason is that these tyres are a lot heavier compared to normal tyres and these affects our fuel economy by about 1%. This figure may not be that much if you are driving sparingly but for someone who drives long and hard this can result to extra fuel costs. Another thing is that cars originally equipped with these tyres don’t come with spares, instead they usually come with can of liquid fix-a-flat and a small air compressor.

2. Unlike traditional tyres, punctured run flat tyres also cannot be repaired. A punctured run flat would mean replacement and these tyres, as mentioned, costs more that normal tyres. Treads on run-flats wear much faster than their traditional counterparts making these tyres to be replaced much faster.

3. Comfort driving is reduced when using these tyres. This is due to the thick sidewalls on Runflats. Having thick sidewalls makes the tyres absorb less shock resulting to a stiffer ride when driving.  The good thing about though is that, new generation Runflats, like the 3rd generation Runflats created by Bridgestone, improved the ride by creating and using new technology. However, Runflat Tyres still does not offer the same smooth ride as conventional tyres.

4. Although this reduces the weight to be carried by the vehicle and gives an extra space in the boot, lack of spare tyres when buying cars that come with Runflats is also a pain. It is understandable that these tyres were designed to allow you to drive, about 100 miles and some even more, even when punctured but spares are a necessity. It is a good thing that we could still drive our cars for that long with a flat tyre but what if we are driving on a rough road? Or where the next service station is located more than what is specified by the distance the Runflats could travel.  We might end up stucked on the middle of nowhere.

5. Safety is one of the advantages of Run Flat Tyres over traditional tyres, however, it has been found out that these tyres are not suited when the temperature gets colder or the climate is wetter because these tyres don’t grip as well as normal tyres. And when driving on a slippery road, tyre grip becomes a factor and critical for us to reach our destination safely.

Looking at the pros and cons, using Runflats might not be a good idea. However, we cannot deny the safety benefit these tyres offer. Accidents and loss of lives caused by tyre blow outs could be prevented. These tyres could be the future. People who developed the technology just need to address the issues that Runflats are facing right now. However, I firmly believe that these issues will be resolved in the near future. With the technology we have at our disposal and development of new techniques in creating the materials needed to make Rnnflats Tyres, it won’t take long before these will be used like the conventional tyres today.

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GPS, Driving Your Way To The Future

Science and Technology has brought a lot of changes into our society particularly in the way we live and do things. Life right now is not as hard as it was compared to let say the 18th century. Science and Technology has become our life. A lot of things have been invented and created that are aimed at improve human life. Computers, cars, planes, medicines etc all of these were a product of man’s continuous search for knowledge and to apply this knowledge by creating tools or devices that could be use in our everyday lives.

The auto industry has benefited much from such studies and innovations. Automobiles have come a very long way since they were first conceptualized and created in the late 17th century.  From the simple steam-power engine automobiles to what they are right now is due to constant improvement and discoveries made through by technology.

Today’s’ cars are equipped with fuel-efficient yet powerful engines, safety gadgets like airbags, state of the art tyres and
cozy interiors. And with the improvement of communication and Internet technology, the use of navigation systems on vehicles is on the rise. I find Navigation Systems quite helpful when driving particularly in new locations or places. Navigation Systems, depending on its features, can give us information on where are the shortest routes to our destinations, live updates on how heavy the traffic is and our current position.

Smartphone GPS VS. Portable Navigation Device(PND)Car GPS and Smartphone GPS

Currently, we have a choice of using 2 navigation systems, Smartphone GPS and Dedicated Car GPS or PND’s (Portable Navigation Device). Smartphones are flexible, they are like a mini computer in your pocket.  You can have a lot of software installed and a lot come with a GPS systems inbuilt which various programs you can install can use.  PND’s on the other are stand alone electronic devices that combines positioning capability (GPS) and navigation functions.  So the question is why you would even need a PND these days?

Which one are you currently using?  I know choosing one over the other is personal preference.  I have tried both and found some interesting pros and cons in using these navigation devices. I would like to share with you what I found out. Most likely, if you have tried using these devices you already have a fair idea of what are the advantages of one device over the other and vice-versa.  However for those of you who are yet to try, I true the information here can help you decide what navigation system to use.

First off, screen size and user interface. I find PND’s better in terms of screen size and user interface for simple reason that most smartphones are not that big. On average smartphones are about 3.5 inches across compared to the 4.3 inches for dedicated Car GPS. The other thing is that the user interface in PND’s are specifically optimized to be viewed at arm’s length. I do not need to hold the PND device near me to view why current position or location because PND’s can be mounted on a windshield or dash mount with sacrificing the quality of viewing the information on the device. For smartphones, this can be difficult because everything is relatively smaller. It is probably better now with some newer smartphones that offer bigger screens but I still say it is not up to par with a dedicated Car GPS.  One thing that is in favour of the smartphone is the light touch of the touchscreen. Another  thing going against the smartphone screens is when you are viewing it under direct light. It becomes a little more difficult to read.

smartphone gps
A Mounted Smartphone Used As A Navigation System

Maps database and updates. Smartphone GPS map apps receive automatic and free updates that ensures the latest maps and database are on the phone. This I believe is one of the advantages of using a Smarphone GPS. Normally, PND maps need to be updated manually and is subject to a subscription. That means you need to pay to get the update.  If you ever get a PND I would not think about getting one without map updates included.  Otherwise a year or so down the track you will be left asking strangers directions again.  Road advancement is pretty quick in some areas.  Especially new housing estates.

Ease of Entering Addresses. I find doing this in Smartphones relatively easy with less typing. On my phone. the navigation app allows me to make use of my contact’s addresses and use the stored address for navigation. Another cool thing is that addresses that I searched over the Internet can be sent directly to my navigation app.

Using the Smartphone as a navigation device is quite convenient in the sense that I have one device that could do a lot of things for me. And it is always with me. This is one another advantage of using Smartphone GPS over a dedicated one. I don’t need to bring or carry another device just to be able to check my current location or position. I would simply access the app on my phone and voila I have the information that I need.

One of the main problems though I encountered when using smartphones as a navigation device is that the battery drains much faster. This is due to the fact that in order for the GPS to continue to run, the smartphone needs to be connected to either a 3G or 4G network. And we do know that connecting to either of these networks drains the battery quickly. This is one of the advantages of the PND over the Smartphone GPS.  Most smart phone you need to turn them to a setting that will not allow the phone to sleep.  This can magnify the battery drain issue.  If you have a car charger it is probably wise to use it if you have a navigation job over an hour or so.  This factor alone I did find very annoying.  Getting wired up, setting sleep off and then finally putting in the destination; by this time on my standard PND I use, I would be well down the street and on the way!

A Mounted Portable Navigation Device
A Mounted Dedicated Car GPS

The other thing that is going against the smartphone when used as a navigation device is the mounting. Compared to dedicated Car GPS, smartphones don’t come with mounting brackets and there is a need to purchase one which means an additional cost for us. And once mounted, it may be a little difficult to read the text on the screen. Car GPS on the other hand are designed and optimised for mounting that makes it easier to read the information displayed on its screen. Volume could be another problem for smartphones but fortunately we could connect external speakers or headsets to it.

Smartphone GPS are also limited by how good or strong the connection is to the 3G, 4G or wifi-networks. This is specially true when going to rural areas where there is little or no signal at all from the cellphone towers. On a positive note though, there are some apps that allows storage of maps on the smartphone’s memory or SD card. On the other hand, I find this a non-issue on a PND. Accuracy of the maps on the smartphone could be suspect sometimes. Though I have not experienced this, some people I know reported this issue. This could be annoying, the fact that we are using navigation system to help us get to our destinations quickly and yet somehow end up at the wrong place because of an in-accurate map.

These are some of the things I found out when using either Smartphone or PND as a navigation system. I hope somehow the information I have here can help you decide which device to use. You have to weigh the pros and cons. Cost may also be a determining factor. If you use a smartphone for navigation, you save money by not buying another device however consider as well if you are willing to put up with some of the disadvantages that comes with it. Same goes when you choose a PND. Are you willing to spend extra money for that purpose? It may be easy for some of us or it could be difficult. The important thing is we have a choice.

 

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The Top 10 Reasons Why LED’s Are Cool For Your Car Right Now!

Let’s Talk About Why LED Lights Are Awesome For Your Cars, Autos and Trailers Right Now!

LED lights are rapidly displacing the old and outdated incandescent lights in the automotive industry.

I don’t know how many, car or trailer turning indicator, brake, headlight lamps I have replaced over the years, but its a lot! In some cases for reasons unknown to me, some of vehicles I have had, seemed to have the lamps fail with such frequency it would drive me nuts! Damn, there goes low beam again, “hey mate, did you know you’ve only got one brake light??” I kept my own stock of replacement lights that would make an auto accessory store proud! When I started to see LED lights appear online I quickly grabbed some for a trailer. I must say, I was not disappointed. The benefits are significant. For some time I had watched LED’s evolve, only a few years ago they were good for electronic projects, but that’s about it. The modern LED has certaily evolved and is now a real ‘commercial’ product for all of us to benefit from.

Sure LED’s are a bit more expensive than the incandescent job at the moment.  Let’s say that the LED re-fit doubles the initial cost; for argument, let’s take a simple example of replacing say 6-7  brake light bulbs over the life of the vehicle.  Compared to a couple of retrofit LED’s.  The LED’s will likely outlive the trailer or car and ultimately save you money on globes, not counting the your time or the local garage mechanic’s labour replacing them.

Retro Fit Aftermarket LED Trailer / Truck Lights

Retrofit LED lights for vehicles and trailers are now available. Whether for personal or commercial use.  They come in numerous shapes and sizes.  Here are just a few of the aftermarket retrofits available

LED Tail Lights
LED Retrofit Trailer Truck Lights

SUV 4×4 Tail Lights

LED BRAKE LIGHT ARRAY
Awesome Retrofit SUV 4WD LED Brake Array

LED Front Lighting / Cool And Classy

LED Headlamp Modules
Awesome Retrofit LED Headlamp Modules

 

LED_HeadLamps_1
LEDs are great for tail light and turn signals. LED or light emitting diode as it is commonly referred to, is a transistor, with a nobbled substrate that produces light when current is passed through it. Basically it’s a sold state light!  They are also beginning to replace front lighting as shown above.  These lights offer a number of benefits compared to the incandescent bulbs, such as the following:

Here are some of the top ten reasons why LED’s are cool for your car right now!

  1. Significantly brighter per watt of power used
  2. Much Longer life span
  3. More cost effective over the life of your vehicle
  4. Endures harsh environments effortlessly due to the moisture proof coverings
  5. With proper heat sinking modern LED’s can run much cooler
  6. A large range of colors are available
  7. The ability to pulse at a much greater frequency
  8. Faster to switch on
  9.  Smaller and more compact in size
  10. Can be made into flexible and novel designs

Today, LED lighting equipment is available for all sorts of applications to enhance the look and visibility of the modern auto. In fact, currently LEDs can be mounted effortlessly in multiple locations, via ways that were considered not be possible for locating an incandescent light bulb. You would also need a massive power supply beyond the average automobiles power system to put out the light comparable to what is achieved by modern LED arrays.

LED lighting was used for the very first Audi R8 and Lexus LS, which demonstrated that some of  the  most prestigious auto makers are seeing the time is right to move to this revolutionary lighting tech. LED’s are popping up on more and more production vehicles.  The LED allows a tranformative look to be applied to lighting, really giving a space age look and feel. The light emitted looks cleaner, sharper and comes from seemingly impossibly small / compact locations. These lights are being used for brake lights of automobiles to enhance the design, look and feel of vehicles, but also to enhance safety features. The brightness and ability to pulse under computer control is awesome. These features of pulsing and sequencing are being used to help avoid potential accidents in fast braking or hazard situations. Yes, car makers are now implementing LED lighting as a common design feature of a vehicle’s brake lights. Maybe your vehicles have these lights in place now. But for those of us still driving older or more traditionally lit wheels, the aftermarket LED’s can be a refreshing and cool look, not to mention the low maintenance beneifts.
With every day that passes, these lights are turning up in more places. The one thing which has been an obstacle in the pathway of this LED revolution is that there has been a significantly higher cost per unit. This has certainly held back the mass producers of the average family car. What we are seeing now, perhaps only in the last few years is the ready availablity of these very new high output low wattage LED’s at what I would call the ‘tipping point’ price that makes them affordable. Often we see the aftermarket industry taking advantage of these tech innovations first. Generally, the lights which are being used for substituting the old incandescent light bulbs are an array of LEDs. This makes them easy to spot on the road. Day by day, I am noticing more vehicles with the tell tale LED array signature look. Of course the capability of these lights to give off light in several colors is one of its added and important benefits, which is rapidly transforming the automotive illumination business. The tiny sizes of the LED light bulbs allows the designer to easily hide the lighting unit, thus guaranteeing that they do not offend the external appearance of the vehicle. Yes, we are wittnessing a revolution in the making. LED’s are here to stay and coming to a car near you soon! Consider the aftermarket options now as a great retrofit for your vehicles.

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