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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