Made famous by BMW, run flat tyres are a somewhat polarising product. Many sing their praises, while others passionately oppose them. We’re going to take you through everything you need to know about run flat tyres, including what they are and how they work. We’ll even fill you in on why they’re considered so controversial.
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What are run flat tyres?
Run flat, or self-supporting, tyres are specially designed to continue working after punctures or experiencing a loss of pressure. With a run flat tyre, you can drive for up to 80 kilometres (at speeds of up to 80km p/h) after the puncture, after which we recommend you visit your Kmart Tyre & Auto Service store for further assistance. This eliminates the need for carrying around a spare tyre, which can end up saving you money on petrol over time.
How do run flat tyres work?
The sidewalls on run flat tyres are reinforced with rubber inserts so that they’re capable of carrying the weight of the car after a puncture. With regular tyres, the air is what holds the vehicle up, making it impossible to continue driving with a flat.
What are the negatives?
You might be wondering what the downsides could be, considering run flat tyres eliminate the possibility of being stranded on the side of the road with a flat tyre. As with anything, there are some trade-offs and the run flat tyre is no exception.
- Many people find that run flat tyres are an uncomfortable and bumpy ride due to the stiff sidewall.
- Regular tyres are generally much cheaper than run flat tyres.
- The grip is not considered to be as good as that of regular tyres.
- Many Australians believe run flat tyres are better suited to Europe, where there is a shorter distance between towns in the case of a flat tyre.
- In most cases, tyre manufacturers won’t repair run flats.
Is it easy to switch to run flat tyres?
If you drive a car that wasn’t designed with run flat tyres in mind, it’s not always a simple switch. You will have to make some adjustments, but in general, yes, it is definitely possible. Some things to keep in mind if you want to switch to run flat tyres:
- Run flats should only be installed on cars equipped with a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS). This alerts the driver when a puncture has occurred so they can get the tyre replaced as soon as possible. Without the TPMS, it could be difficult for drivers to tell if their tyre has been punctured.
- Some modifications to suspension might be needed, as run flat tyres can alter a car’s suspension. You will need to consult a professional to confirm this before you make the switch.
Can a car equipped for run flats switch to regular tyres?
This is generally not recommended by car manufacturers, however, it’s certainly possible. In the case of a puncture it may even be necessary if the closest tyre repairer doesn’t happen to provide run flat tyres. If you’re planning to make a permanent switch, consult one of our experienced technicians for advice on your particular car make and model.