Flat tires are a pain in the rear end. They are unexpected, time consuming, dangerous, and overall just bad news. The last time I had a flat tire, I was left stranded in the middle of nowhere on the highway in between two exits at night. I had a choice: either change the tire myself (which would have been nearly impossible being that it was pitch black) or call a tow truck. I opted for the latter and had to pay several hundred dollars on towing, storage, a new tire, installation, etc. Now: imagine a world where you can pick and choose when and where to have a flat tire. Sound like fantasy? Nope, this concept is now a reality with the modern run flat tire (RFT). This type of tire will sustain a puncture temporarily, keeping you safe on the road at a moderate speed (under 55 mph) for 100-200 miles — until you can safely reach a tire shop for repairs. Never again do you have to worry about being late for work or missed appointments due to a flat tire. Nor do you have to worry about blow-outs, careening out of control, or changing your tire on a busy highway shoulder. With RFT’s, you have the luxury of taking care of your flat tire on your own time.
The run-flat tire concept has been around, incredibly, since 1892 when it was patented, but only in the past ten years or so has it really been useful — thanks to developments in modern technology. Today, most high-end luxury and sports cars are sold with factory run flat tyres.
How Does It Work?
There are a couple variations on how a run-flat tire can be constructed, but the most common and widely used is the auxiliary-supported RTF. Here’s how it works: a thick structure called a “support” is attached to the wheel/rim itself. As you can see in the photo, it is web-like in design which allows it to be flexible, but it’s also strong enough to support the weight of the car. The tire itself is extra thick, which means that it more readily resists puncture. The sidewalls are reinforced by extra layers of rubber. When a puncture occurs, the air leak is very slow and gradual. In many cases, the driver wouldn’t even know that they incurred a flat tire other than from a warning via the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System). Eventually, the tire deflates, but only by a couple inches at most. Then it is supported by the auxiliary support system.
The Good & The Bad
Whether or not run flat tires are really the *best* option for your vehicle is a widely debated subject. It seems that you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. There are undoubtedly several advantages: safety, peace of mind, control, and saving time — just to name a few. The main argument against RFT’s? Cost. Run Flat Tires are markedly more expensive than normal tires. With the extra materials involved, this isn’t too much of a surprise. Also, because they are heavier, they require more fuel than normal tires which will contribute to the cost factor as well. Other people say that RFT’s don’t handle as well, and the ride is much less smooth than a normal tire. The other main disadvantage I uncovered from users is that RFT’s, contrary to design, seem to puncture more readily than normal tires.
If your car came equipped with factory RFT’s and you find them not to your liking, just know that they easily can be replaced with regular tires. If you love RFT’s, you are in luck! At Jacks Tire Shop, we do not upcharge for RFT installation.We have one flat rate for installation (mount and balance), no matter what kind of tire you use. Which do you prefer? Drop us a comment below!