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What’s in a Run Flat Tire?

run flat tire diagramAccording to the NHTSA, in the United States alone it’s estimated that seven motorists experience flat tires each second, which equates to about 220 million flat tires each year. Furthermore, it’s estimated that every driver will experience at least five flat tires throughout their lifetime. Needless to say that flat tires are one of the most common – and most inconvenient and frustrating – roadside emergencies. And based on the above statistics, it’s likely that you’ve already experienced at least one yourself.

Today, drivers can take advantage of run flat tire technology. Simply put, run flat tires help maintain vehicle mobility after they’ve been punctured, thereby allowing the vehicle to travel (at a reduced speed) for 50+ miles after losing air pressure. While the tire will still need to be replaced eventually, the true value of run flat tires is that they essentially buy time for the driver and don’t require immediate replacement. In a nutshell, they make having a flat tire less of an inconvenience.

Run Flat Tire Technologies

There are a variety of run flat tire technologies available today. Here’s an overview of some of the more popular ones:

Self-sealing: The name says it all. Self-sealing run flat tires contain an extra lining under the tire tread that’s coated with a puncture sealant and thereby works to re-seal the tire when damaged by the likes of nails, bolts, screws, etc. up to about 3/16 of an inch.

Self-supporting: Self-supporting tires are designed to temporarily maintain vehicle mobility and hold the weight of the vehicle, even after a tire has lost all of its air pressure. They feature a stiff internal build and also contain rubber inserts and heat-resistant cord in the sidewalls to prevent tire breakdown. Several tire manufacturers deploy various versions of self-support technology, such as Bridgestone’s RFT (Run-Flat Tire), Dunlop’s DSST (Dunlop Self-Supporting Technology) and Goodyear EMT (Extended Mobility Technology).

Auxiliary Supported: This is a more advanced type of run flat tire, combining wheel use with OEM applications. Typically, it consists of tire tread resting on a support ring that’s also connected to the wheel in the event that pressure is lost. While this type of run flat technology has its share of pros (i.e. minimizes reliance on the bum tire), it is a more advanced system that isn’t compatible with all tires.

support ring run flat tireself-supporting run flat

Run Flat Tire Pros vs. Cons

We already covered a lot of the advantages of having run flat tires on your vehicle and how they buy a driver time and make having a flat tire less of an inconvenience. But there are also some disadvantages of run flat tires that should be noted as well. Here’s a look at some of these pros and cons:

PROS

Safety: We already told you how 220 million tires are blown out each year. But we didn’t tell you how tire blowouts are one of the leading causes of auto accidents. So not only will you be safer on the road, but you’ll also eliminate the potential risk of changing a tire along a busy street or highway during rush hour.

More vehicle space: Driving with run flat tires essentially eliminates the need for a spare, or “dingy.” That means more interior space in the vehicle and a lighter overall ride, which translates to better fuel economy.

Convenience: Just because it’s worth mentioning again, run flat tires won’t cause you to miss that big meeting, flight, or to cancel on your date. They’re much more convenient than immediately pulling over and spending at least 30 minutes changing it out.

CONS

Cost: Run flat tires are more expensive than conventional tires, some as much as 30 to 40 percent more. And being that conventional tires are expensive as-is, the additional cost makes them a prohibiting factor of purchase for many.

Availability: Run flat tires can also be difficult to find. If you can’t find them, how can you buy them?

The consensus is that the pros outweigh the cons of run flat tires, but the cons are still worth considering when making your purchase.

Who Needs Run Flat Tires?

humvee run flat tiresRun flat tire technologies were first introduced for military and executive/diplomatic security applications. They served the purpose of allowing a vehicles and its occupants to escape from an ambush, or to keep moving through a dangerous area without stopping to change a flat tire.

Now these tires are commercially available and can be found on everyday street cars. One thing to note about run flat tires is that they’re not suitable for all types of conditions. Studies have shown that run flat tires don’t grip the road as well in cold, wet conditions, and thereby should not be used when such conditions persist, according to Auto Advantage.

So are run flat tires right for your vehicle? It all depends. Would you be willing to pay a little extra for the sake of convenience and safety? Do you live in an area where construction – and the nail and screw byproducts – are rampant and flat tires may be more common? If so, run flat tires might be right for you.

We have more tires arriving into out warehouse daily, including used run flat tires. Check out some of the run flats that we currently have by clicking below.

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