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What are run flat tyres, and do you need them?

calendar Published on: Thursday, 1st March 2018 | male icon Author: Kevin Thorpe

When it comes to the subject of cars, you might have heard people talk about run flat tyres. However, if youíre not totally clued up on your vehicle facts, you might struggle to get your head around what these are and whether you need them on your own car.To help you out, weíve put together a guide to everything you should know about these tyres, from how they work to helping you suss out whether or not your car already has them.

Run flat tyres: the basics

In short, run flat tyres are designed to continue working even if you suffer a puncture or a significant reduction in air pressure. These models enable you to continue driving so you can make it to safety, whether you head home, go to a nearby garage or find a suitable place to wait for breakdown assistance. 

Compared to conventional tyres, run flats have much thicker and more supportive reinforced sidewalls. Their construction means that they are able to maintain their shape and strength even if the air pressure within them has reduced. 

Due to the way these tyres have been designed, you will still be able to drive for a limited amount of time at a restricted speed if you get a puncture while youíre behind the wheel. Generally speaking, you should be able to drive up to a speed of 50mph for up to 50 miles before you need to swap your run flats for new models.

Used with TPMS technology

In order for them to work properly, run flat tyres must be used along with a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS). This technology is built into the vehicle and is designed to alert the driver if one of their tyres has dropped in pressure. It does this by displaying a warning symbol on the dashboard of the car. The symbol is normally a yellow, horseshoe-shaped image, to represent the cross-section of a tyre, with an exclamation point in the middle of it.

The advantages

There are a number of advantages associated with having these tyres. First of all, because they allow you to keep driving for a short period after youíve suffered a puncture., you donít need to worry about having to pull over and change the wheel yourself. Trying to change a tyre can be  dangerous, especially if you experience a blowout on a motorway or a busy road. Whatís more, you might not have the knowledge or skill needed to do this yourself.

Another benefit is the fact  the reinforced sidewalls can help you keep control of your car after getting a puncture, which is good news for your safety and wellbeing.

The rules about repairs

The majority of manufacturers advise against repairing run flat tyres. This is because, if this type of tyre is punctured, it can be tricky to determine if the construction of the sidewall has been damaged. The internal structure of the tyre may be weakened, so if it is driven on, the tyreís strength may be compromised, meaning it is no longer deemed safe enough to use on the roads. So, instead of getting them repaired, it is usually recommended that you replace the tyres with brand new models.

How to find out if your car has run flats

Many car manufacturers now design their vehicles with run flat tyres. If youíre not sure whether your car has this types of tyre, there are a couple of quick checks you can do.

For instance, you could start by simply going into the boot and lifting up the compartment hatch that can often be found inside. These days, the majority of manufacturers fit their vehicles with run flats and therefore donít provide a spare tyre. So if yours is empty, itís likely your car has been fitted with run flats. If you lift the cover and discover an extra wheel or a repair kit, then itís more likely that your car is fitted with conventional tyres instead.

Another way you can tell if your car has run flat tyres is by inspecting the sidewall. Different manufacturers use different symbols, letters and markings to indicate this, so you may want to do some research online and take a look at our tyre markings guide. A quick internet search should tell you what to look out for based on the brand of tyres your car has.

If youíre still unsure as to what type of tyres your car has, you should seek assistance from a professional technician.

Conventional tyres vs run flats: to swap or not to swap?

Thereís no denying that there are some clear advantages to having your car fitted with run flat tyres. However, while you might be tempted to switch to these models, swapping your conventional tyres for run flats is not recommended. 

The main reason for is because your car might not be fitted with a TPMS. Without this technology, you may not be aware of an issue with your tyres, meaning that you continue to drive as normal after a tyre is punctured. This can be extremely dangerous, putting the safety of you and other road users at risk.

On the other hand, you should steer clear of putting conventional tyres on your vehicle if it has been set up for run flats. This comes back to the fact that most manufacturers of cars with run flat tyres will not provide a spare tyre or the equipment needed to replace it. So, if you were to fit conventional tyres, you would not have the tools to change the tyre if you had a puncture.

If you need more information about run flat tyres, donít hesitate to get in touch with us. At TyrePlus, we have the expert knowledge to answer your questions, helping you choose the right tyre models for your car.


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