Should you change your tyres to run flat tyres?
The benefits and disadvantages of run flat tyres
You may have heard of run flat tyres, and possibly be considering replacing your current tyres with run flat tyres at your next tyre change. This article will help you make the best decision.
What is the advantage of run flat tyres?
If you have ever suffered a puncture while driving, you’ll know what a frightening experience it can be, especially if you are driving at high speed. The sudden loss of pressure can lead to sudden and even complete loss of control.
If you manage to safely bring your vehicle to a stop with a flat tyre hampering your handling, the danger isn’t over. Now you need to change your flat tyre for the spare: a dangerous roadside operation on a clear day, but even more so at night, in the rain, and when visibility is limited.
Run flat tyres are designed to keep the sidewall intact should the tyre be punctured. Even at zero pressure, a run flat tyre should maintain its shape. The reinforced sidewall will retain its rigidity for long enough to allow you to reach a tyre shop or get home – generally as far as 80 kilometres, though the actual distance depends on make and model of the run flat tyre.
How do run flat tyres work?
Run flat tyres work in one of two ways: either they are made with a strengthened sidewall, or with an internal support ring. They work well, too, though they have proved to be unpopular with many drivers. Because of this, very few vehicle manufacturers fit them as standard.
What are the disadvantages of run flat tyres?
There are four main reasons for the unpopularity of run flat tyres:
1. Run flat tyres are not available for all vehicles
Usually, a vehicle manufacturer will build in a run flat system into its models. If your vehicle was supplied with run flats, then you won’t have a problem. However, if it does not have the run flat system built in, you may not be able to fit run flats on your existing wheels.
2. Fuel economy is affected by run flats
Run flat tyres are heavier than ordinary tyres. This increases the rolling resistance and means your fuel consumption will be higher. While you won’t need to carry a spare (saving you money and space), the higher fuel consumption means higher fuel bills.
3. Run flat tyres may not get you home
The distance that a run flat tyre can take you after a puncture is limited to a maximum of 80 kilometres. This may not be enough to get you home or to the nearest service station or tyre shop. Plus, you will be limited to travelling at no faster than 80 km/h.
4. You might not be able to buy your favourite brand
Finally, because of their lack of popularity, some brands don’t manufacture run flat tyres. You may not be able to buy your favoured brand or in the size you need.
To use run flat tyres, you need a TPMS
If you are considering changing to run flat tyres, you will also need a TPMS – a tyre pressure monitoring system. This is a system that alerts the driver to a sudden loss of tyre pressure. Older vehicles are unlikely to have this fitted.
One final complication is that if you do have run flat tyres fitted and the TPMS warning light signals a loss of pressure, it does not necessarily mean that you have suffered a puncture. You may simply be driving in zero-pressure conditions. If you are not aware of the reason for the warning light, you may drive faster than you should on your run flat tyres.
For many drivers, run flat tyres take away the fear of being stranded at the side of the road trying to change a flat tyre in poor weather conditions while other vehicles are speeding past. This is a big advantage. However, whether they are the right choice for you depends on many other factors – such as the make, model and age of your vehicle, and the type of driving you do normally.
Whatever the reason for your tyre change, here in Brisbane drivers know they can trust Darra Tyres to give the best advice and help them make the best choice. We understand that all drivers are unique, and this means your choice of tyres will be unique, too.
For all your tyre needs, contact Darra Tyres – we’ll see you right.
Keeping your family and fleet safe on the road,