As a vehicle owner, you should never underestimate the importance of good quality tyres. Your tyres do so much more than connect your car to the road. They guarantee a safe and comfortable driving experience whilst actively supporting the weight of your vehicle. The air in your tyres also provides a springboard effect to absorb road shocks, and boost driver and passenger comfort further. Tyres provide grip for acceleration and braking, and boost steering and directional control to improve your ride no matter what the road conditions.
Bad quality tyres therefore reduce the performance of your vehicle, increase the risk of skidding (poor tyres extend your stopping distance), and boost your vehicle’s fuel consumption and CO2 emissions if worn or flat.
Choosing the best quality tyres for your vehicle however isn’t easy. There are tons of brands and tyre types all claiming to be the best in the business. Run flat tyres are a popular choice, but what are run flat tyres and, more importantly, how easy are they to repair should you sustain a puncture?
What are run flat tyres?
Often referred to as self-supporting tyres, run flats boast a specialised design that allows you to keep moving even after the tyres have become punctured. That means there’s no need to pull over at the side of the road for a tyre change or disrupt your journey to head straight to a garage for a replacement.
Run flat tyres consist of sidewalls that have been equipped with hardy rubber inserts. These extra features can support the weight of your vehicle all on their own, even if a puncture occurs and air escapes. With other tyre types, it is the air inside the tyre that supports the vehicle.
The run flat design is so complex that most drivers who sustain punctures don’t even notice as the quality of the ride isn’t generally altered. Run flat tyres are fitted with tyre pressure monitoring systems making it easier to keep tabs on punctures. More and more vehicles are being specially designed for use with run flat tyres, which means they won’t need or come with a spare tyre or tyre changing equipment.
How long do run flats last when punctured?
If you do suffer a puncture, there are a number of steps you should take. Despite your run flat tyre’s sophisticated design, you cannot continue to drive for a long period of time. Most run flat tyres provide a range of 50 miles at speeds of up to 50mph, although this range varies depending on the load you are carrying.
You should get your run flat tyres replaced or repaired as soon as you can, and replacements should be the same make as the original run flats fitted on your vehicle. If you do have to have new run flat tyres fitted, your tyre pressure monitoring system must be reset.
Can run flat tyres be repaired?
In theory, yes, run flat tyres can be repaired. This does however depend on the severity of the puncture and the overall condition of the tyre.
The position of the puncture also determines whether it can be repaired or not, whilst secondary damage is another factor, particularly if you have been running on a deflated tyre for a long period of time. Pinpointing and determining the extent of secondary damage to a run flat tyre however isn’t as easy as it is with a conventional tyre due to their construction.
Although we judge tyre repairs on a case by case basis, we’d recommend replacing your run flat tyre following a puncture in most circumstances. Driving on a punctured run flat tyre can compromise the integrity and strength of the entire tyre. As most with run flat tyres do not notice punctures, it is highly likely that when it is eventually identified, the driver would have been driving on it for a longer period at faster speeds.
Can I upgrade to or switch from run flat tyres?
Despite the convenience of run flat tyres, some vehicle owners may want to switch from run flat tyres to conventional tyres. Run flat tyres are after all costlier due to their specialist features and not so widely available.
If your current tyres aren’t run flats, we’d recommend sticking to the same tyre type your vehicle was originally supplied with when replacing worn or blown tyres. Fitting run flats to a car that’s not designed for them can be dangerous as the vehicle will not have the tyre pressure monitoring system needed to alert the driver to a puncture.
If your vehicle was designed to be fitted with run flats, the same theory applies and you should stick with run flat tyres for replacement. Switching to conventional tyres means that the handling of your vehicle may be affected. Vehicles designed with run flat tyres in mind tend to have softer suspension than vehicles with conventional tyres fitted. This means that should a conventional tyre be fitted, your ride and handling will be affected and some safety concerns are likely to become apparent.
For further information about finding the right tyre type for your vehicle or to book your vehicle in for a tyre repair or tyre replacement, please contact us direct. Our tyre specialists based in Waterlooville near Portsmouth have experience fitting all tyre types, including run flat tyres and conventional tyres, and can advise you to guarantee optimum performance and safety.