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Run Flat Tires – Pros and Cons

05
August

Everyone that drives a car experiences the frustration and inconvenience of a flat tire at some point. Whether we are rushing to a meeting, hurrying to school, or trying to catch a plane, there is no good time to get a flat tire. However, new innovations in run flat tires can help postpone the need to change that flat tire until a driver can get home or to a garage for repairs.

WHAT ARE RUN FLAT TIRES?

Run flat tires are tires that are designed to automatically fix a punctured or blown out tire. In some cases, this is a permanent fix, but more frequently it is a temporary solution to allow a drive to get to a suitable location rather than requiring immediate attention.

There are three basic types of run flat tires. The most common example is known as a self-sealing tire. These are made just like regular tires, but the inside of the tire is treated with a sealant that will automatically close most holes from screws, nails or other debris on the road. These can typically reseal a hole that is up to three-sixteenths of an inch across. In many cases, this process is so automatic that a driver does not even realize that they had a puncture.

The second type of run flat tire is called self-supporting. This usually takes the form of a rubber mesh or cords inside the sidewall of a tire. They are connected to the frame of the wheel with special beads. Like self-sealing tires, a driver often does not even know they have a loss of air pressure. In the case of self-supporting tires, they are often equipped with electronic sensors to alert drivers to tire damage so that they can be repaired as soon as possible. Most self-supporting tires require that a vehicle travel less than fifty miles at speeds under fifty-five miles an hour to prevent damage to the system.

The final option is called an auxiliary supported system. In this case, an firm support ring that is connected to the wheel itself is located inside the tread. When a tire loses pressure, the tread rests directly on this ring. This is the most expensive option because the rings require custom tires for the system. However, they are also rated as the most comfortable of the run flat options.

BENEFITS

The advantages of run flat tires are obvious. Besides the convenience of reaching destinations on time, run flat tires are also safer because a driver does not have to worry about changing tires in bad weather, on a busy highway, or on an unlit road at night. They also typically avoid the steering problems that accompany blowouts, which increases safety for everyone on the road. Almost all run flat models can travel at least fifty miles with no air, which should be enough time to reach a mechanic in most situations.

CONS

Most cars that come with run flat tires do not carry a spare. For some drivers, the added security of run flats is not enough reliability to warrant traveling without a full spare available. There are also reports that run flats tend to wear unevenly and wear out more quickly than standard tires. The increased frequency of replacement is exasperated by higher tire cost, smaller selection for replacements, and the need for special mounting equipment to change a tire. They can also provide a noticeably less comfortable ride in some applications.

DECIDING

Like many automotive decisions, choosing whether to use run flat tires involves balancing safety and cost. Run flat tires are more expensive to purchase and maintain than conventional tires, but they do offer a level of convenience and safety that standard tires cannot. As technological improvements continue to cause the price to drop, most consumers will find the added security of run flat tires to be well worth the investment.

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