Are you familiar with run flat tyre technology? Have you even heard of run flat tyres? Do you know if your car is fitted with them? Since there’s so much terminology – and often confusion – flying around about run flat tyres, our latest tyre safety article takes a look at this excellent tyre technology, and provide you with the critical information you need to know when it comes to using and changing to run flats.
What are they, and how do I tell if I have them on my car?
To start with, let’s open your car’s boot. When you lift up the floor cover, what can you see? If there’s a spare wheel sitting in the cavity with a jack and spanner, your car isn’t intended to be fitted with run flat tyres. If you don’t see one, you know that your car is designed to be fitted with run flats, and as such should be.
So what exactly are run flat tyres, and how are they different to normal tyres? Run flats are built with reinforced sidewalls. As a result – even in the event of sustaining a puncture – you can typically continue driving on them, allowing you to get to a nearby garage for a replacement tyre fitting.
However, run flats aren’t a permanent, ‘magic’ solution. You can only run on these tyres with a puncture at a modest speed and for a short period – typically a maximum of 50 mph for up to 50 miles, tops.
What are the advantages to having run flat tyres?
1. In the event of a puncture, the strengthened sidewall helps you to maintain control of your car – essential if travelling at high speeds.
2. If you’ve had a puncture, run flats ensure that you don’t have to immediately change the tyre on the side of the road – a very dangerous thing to have to do, with many injuries and fatalities resulting each year in the UK.
3. Not having to carry a spare wheel means you have considerably more space in your car boot. There’s also significantly less weight, so fuel efficiency and mileage is improved.
I’m convinced, but how can I tell a run flat from a normal tyre?
It can be confusing. Run flats do look more or less exactly the same as normal tyres. Increasingly, with the aim of improving driver safety, many new vehicles are fitted with run flats as “Original Equipment” (OE). Leading car manufacturers, such as Mercedes, Mini and BMW regularly fit their vehicles from the factory with Continental tyres as OE, often run flat tyres. There’s a strong possibility that you may well be driving a car fitted with the latest run flat technology without even realising.
How do run flat tyres work?
As previously described, run flat tyres feature a specially reinforced sidewall construction. This continues to safely support your vehicle even if you have a puncture. It’s this super-tough build and compound that means you can keep on driving to the nearest garage. Premium tyre manufacturers like Continental have designed and developed this technology to help improve your safety and driving experience.
What’s key here, however, is that run flat tyres must be used in conjunction with a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). This is vital because – without the automatic alert provided by the TPMS – how would you even know that you’ve sustained a puncture?
And if you do get an alert from your TPMS that one of your tyres is punctured, the other thing to bear in mind is that it’s really important that you don’t ignore the run flat tyre’s maximum 50 mile range limitation. You must get the tyre changed sooner rather than later, or else you’ll risk damaging your actual wheel – much more costly than just replacing the tyre!
Changing run flat tyres with non-run flat ones – a good idea or not?
Tempting, yes – because run flat technology is more expensive – but a good idea? Absolutely not. As we stated earlier, run flat tyres very often come as “Original Equipment” – what the car is fitted with when its sold new from the factory. This usually means that the car has been designed and built without the space necessary to carry a spare tyre. If – after one of your run flats is punctured – you replace it with a non-run flat and (bad luck) have another puncture, you’d be stranded. This is why – if you bought your car second hand and then discovered afterwords there’s no spare wheel in your boot – you must check that your tyres are actually run flats.
If you’re unsure about run flats, talk to Asda Tyres
If you’re unsure about how to tell if your vehicle is fitted with run flat tyres or not, contact the expert team at Asda Tyres. We will offer you impartial advice on the right tyres for your car, as well as fitting solutions and more. Click here to live chat to one of our experts, or find your nearest fitting station.