How Do Run Flat Tyres Work?
Run flat tyres are one of the latest innovations to make motoring safer and more convenient for everyone, and a large number of leading car manufacturers are now fitting them to new vehicles as standard. At Fast Tyre Service, we are being called upon to supply replacement run flats more and more frequently. But as with any such new feature, there are many questions to be answered in the minds or the motoring public: How do run flat tyres work? How much do they cost? Should I switch to run flat tyres on my car, and if so, what are the best type to go for? Let’s see if we can help get to the bottom of some of these complex issues.
Motoring organisations consistently report that flat tyres are the most common type of breakdown, and that incidents caused by potholes are responsible for a third of all recorded vehicle damage on UK roads. When your wheels suffer damage due to a poor road surface or debris, the air escapes and the tyre collapses in on itself. As a result, your car could be perilously out of control until it can be brought to a standstill. How can the dangers of high-speed blowouts be negated?
In the early days of motoring, cars made use of solid rubber tyres which did not need to be inflated with air, and therefore could never be punctured. But solid tyres are completely unsuitable for the advanced, high-speed vehicles of today. A compromise was reached with the invention of run flat tyres. These are products which operate as normal when up to pressure, but retain some rigidity when deflated, due to them having reinforced sidewalls. The resulting benefits are twofold: in case of a sudden blowout, the driver is better able to maintain control, and can hopefully bring the car safely to a stop. And if your car suffers a puncture in a potentially dangerous location – say, on a busy dual carriageway – it will be possible to slowly and carefully continue driving until you find a safe place to stop.
Switching To Run Flat Tyres
A word of warning: run flat tyres should not be thought of as some kind of ‘automatic spare tyre’, which will allow you to keep driving as normal, for an indefinite time after a puncture. The speed and distance limits set by the manufacturer for driving with a puncture (usually around 50mph and 50 miles, but be sure to know the figures for your car before you need them!) should never be exceeded.
Many new vehicles now come with run flat tyres as standard. If you are thinking of switching to run flat tyres on your current car, here are a couple of things to bear in mind:
Only cars with a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) can be fitted with run flats. This system is there to let you know as soon as a puncture or pressure drop is detected. Any new passenger car sold in the EU since 2014 will have a TPMS fitted. In some cases, other components on the car may be incompatible with these products.
It is true that most run flat tyres cost a little more than the equivalent standard model, but when you consider the cost of repairing your car after an accident caused by a blowout, or having it recovered from the hard shoulder of a motorway, it’s clear that these items can quickly pay for themselves. And it goes without saying that run flats are safer for you and your passengers.
The best strategy is to contact the experts. We can advise you whether it is advisable to make the switch in your case, and find the best run flat tyres for your car. If your vehicle already uses run flats, we can supply all the leading brands and fit them at your convenience in the Brighton area.