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If you have been left stranded high and dry on a highway because of flat tires, you’ll know what a life-saver run flat tires are.

On the other hand, if you’ve never heard of it, well those are tires on which you can continue to drive even after there is a puncture in it. Though you can’t drive on it indefinitely, it will give you some extra miles until you get to the nearest repair shop.

There are also some limitation on how fast you can drive on these tires. It is best you check the manufacturer’s specifications to know how long you can drive and how fast you can go on these tires. But undoubtedly, you don’t have to feel stranded at odd times on a lonely highway!

run flat tires

How do They Work?

Run flat tires are an interesting product, so let’s see how they work.

There are two kinds of flat tire run systems and they are self-supporting system and support ring system.

Self-supporting System

In a self-supporting system, the tires have reinforced sidewall construction to support the vehicle when there is an air loss from a puncture in the tire. Such a construction allows the tires to continue to run for a certain distance and at a certain speed, both of which are specified by the manufacturer.

Support Ring System

The support ting system works differently when compared to the self-supporting system. In this system, there is a ring of hard rubber or a similar structure made of a different material. The idea is that this material will support the weight of the car including its passengers when there is a sudden loss of air in the tires due to a puncture.

Regardless of which system you use, it is important to note that you can fit these tires only on vehicles that have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

Before going further, let us briefly understand what TPMS is and why it is necessary for run flat tires.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

TPMS is designed to warn you when one or more of your tires is severely under-inflated and requires your attention right away. This system is located in your vehicle and helps to avoid unsafe driving conditions. In most cars, a yellow symbol will blink on your car’s dashboard panel and this symbol will be shaped like the cross-section of a tire with an exclamation point. If you see this symbol, it is time to check the air pressure on your tires at the earliest.

So, now that you know what a TPMS is, keep checking for this symbol when you are driving with run flat tires. Again, never go faster or longer than what is specified by the manufacturer.

Why Should You Use Run Flat Tires?

Safety is the biggest reason to use run flat tires because on an average they can hold on for about 50 miles until you reach the nearest auto repair shop. This is a fairly good distance and there is a high possibility to find at least a Walmart auto repair store within this distance.

Another reason is you don’t have to panic when TPMS starts blinking on your car dashboard. You don’t have to do anything dangerous such as switching lanes right away, moving to the side to quickly swap a tire with traffic whizzing past you or just losing complete control over your car in a sense of panic. These roadside scenarios are dangerous and can put you at a lot of risk for road accidents.

But when you have run flat tires, you don’t have to panic because you know the car can continue to hold steady for some more time, and all that you have to do is identify the nearest auto repair shop and follow the tire manufacturer’s specifications for speed.

Do these run flat tires come with any disadvantage at all?

Well, no product is without disadvantages, so run flat tires are no exception to this rule. So, let’s look at some of their potential downsides.

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Disadvantages of Run Flat Tires

Though run flat tires look like the perfect product that can protect you, they still come with some shortcomings.

First off, they tend to be more expensive than the regular car tires, and this means, your car maintenance is sure to become an expensive affair. But keep in mind that safety is more important than a few hundred dollars. You will never again get stranded or have to make dangerous decisions because of a flat tire, and this can save your precious life, especially when you are driving in difficult conditions or high speed. In this sense, run flat tires more than make up for their additional cost as they give you the highest possible safety in the event of a tire puncture.

A minor disadvantage is the driving experience. Since these tires are designed a little differently when compared to normal tires, they cannot provide a smooth driving experience always. This is particularly relevant when you are riding on a road that is full of potholes. Remember, there is either a side wall or a different material on the tires to prevent problems even when there is a loss of air flow due to a puncture, and this means, the ride will be rough. You cannot expect the cushioned driving experience that you will get from other tires.

Thirdly, these run flat tires tend to be heavier than normal cars, and again this translates to lower car efficiency and more fuel consumption. Their performance levels go down further after there is a puncture.

But if you look at these disadvantages, a lot of it is minor stuff that you can live with. Since the primary idea of this tire is to get your safely in the event of a puncture, it is not fair to expect too much from it. These run flat tires come only with basic capabilities as they more than make up on the safety aspect.

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Sources:

  1. What Are Run-Flat Tires? – Your Mechanic
  2. Run-Flat Tires: Pros and Cons – US News

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