Run flat tyres are becoming increasingly popular, so much so that many manufacturers now classify them as ‘Original Equipment’ or (OE); that is to say, as standard as a radio or seat-belts. But what are they and are they worth the investment?
In appearance, run flat tyres look like any other. You’d be hard pressed to differentiate between them and any standard type. However, their unique design means that, in the event of a puncture, they’re able to function over a limited distance. Typically, a run flat will be able to cover 50 miles at a rate of 50 mph when deflated.
This means that a run flat tyre can provide drivers with an opportunity to reach a tyre fitter or garage. Given the dangers of changing tyres on the roadside, lives can be saved via this technology. In March a Somerset man was killed on the A30 whilst changing one his van’s tyres.
But How Do They Work?
Unlike regular tyres, run flats possess a strengthened sidewall which supports the car in the event of a puncture. As a result, even fully deflated tyres remain functional for a limited period.
But Are They Worth It?
As it stands, many new models of car are simply being fitted with run flat tyres. Slowly but surely, they appear to becoming more and more standard. However, if your car is using regular tyres is it worth upgrading to run flats?
First of all, run flats need to work in conjunction with a Tyre Pressure Monitoring system or ‘TPMS.’ Without one of these, you’ll be unable to determine when you have a puncture. These vary greatly in terms of pricing, with simple models costing as little as £30 with more sophisticated variants costing closer to £100.
There are also some testing reports that suggested that run flat tread depth wore down quicker and that they affected some handling when approaching corners at higher speeds; perhaps a product of less flexibility in the tyre wall.
But the benefits of run flats can’t be negated. Because spare wheels are no longer required, excess weight can be removed from the car; improving overall fuel economy. In addition, in nearly all cases they eliminate the need to replace a tyre in potentially hazardous situations (like the hard shoulder on the motorway). With saved money, time and stress, the tyres are clearly a worthwhile investment.