Are run-flat tyres worth it, or just a waste of time and money?

Run-flat tyres may sound like a great luxury product but in reality there are disadvantages. Run-flat tyres are special tyres that can still function short-term even with a puncture. They use special supports built into the tyre that can keep the wheel rolling like it should even when the tyre has no air in it at all.

 

If you drive a BMW that isn’t an M sports car, your car will have RFTs (run-flat tyres) on by default unless they’ve been changed by an owner. Run-flats can be bought for most cars on the market so don’t feel like they’re just for bimmers. They’re said to be safer and more convenient than regular tyres. However do not be fooled, these magic tyres aren’t without their faults…

BMW wheel

They feel horrible to drive with and perform poorly

 

Ask anyone that’s driven with RFTs and non-RFTs and 9 out of 10 of them will say how much nicer it felt to drive with “regular” tyres. There is an endless amount of case studies where motorists fall back in love with their car after swapping out their tyres and the recurring pattern is undeniable. It’s a fact that run-flat tyres worsen ride quality. It causes crashy, soul-shaking stiffness that makes traversing potholes and speed bumps feel like an old rickety roller coaster ride. It’s like pushing a shopping trolley over a cobbled street.

steering

Not only are the vibrations much more significant when driving on RFTs, but many drivers suggest that performance is worse as well. Thanks to the rock-hard sidewalls, handling is noticeably less sharp and not as “tight” around the corners. Grip is almost always superior when using non-RFTs.

 

Think of it this way; why else would BMW avoid putting run-flat tyres on their M models? It’s because they don’t want their performance to be lessened! If that isn’t BMW admitting that RFTs result in inferior handling, I don’t know what is.

 

BMW SUV

They cost more than “normal” tyres

Expect to pay about 30% more for your run-flat tyres. Sure, it may not be much difference for one tyre, but when you need 2 new tyres, or God forbid, 4 new tyres… you better hope they offer finance plans that are kind to the wallet. But it’s not that bad because you don’t have to replace your tyres that often anyway, right? Well…

RFT wheel

Run-flat tyres don’t last as long

 

On average, run-flat tyres need to be replaced 6,000 miles sooner than non-RFTs. According to a study by J.D. Power conducted in 2013. It is suggested that this is due to the softer tread compound used in RFTs, making them more susceptible to abrasive wear than harder non-RFT tyres. Could they be using a softer tread compound as an attempt to counter the hardness of the rest of the tyre? Either way, run-flat tyres tend to wear quicker so not only are they pricier, but you’ll also be buying them more often. Yikes.

 

A tyre repair kit can solve the same problem for a lot less money

 

If it’s changing a wheel at the side of the road you’re worried about, then why not just buy a tyre repair kit instead? The kits cost a lot less than RFTs and it’ll also mean you won’t have to change a wheel or carry a spare. The kit will allow you to block the puncture and inflate the tyre back up so you can drive to your nearest tyre dealer. It’ll basically achieve the same as run-flat tyres do but without all the negatives that come with them.

 convertible

 

They could save your life

 

One thing run-flat tyres do have going for them is that they are potential lifesavers. Sudden loss of tyre pressure whilst driving at high speeds almost never ends well. You could lose control of the car which could lead to crashing into other cars or the side of the road. This is where run-flats will shine because they will stop your tyre from going as flat as a pancake and allow you to drive safely for another 50 miles. This is the case if you don’t drive over 50 mph.

mustang

Run-flat tyres aren’t for everyone, but they do serve a purpose, we won’t deny that. Let us know how you feel about RFTs!

 

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One Response

  1. Mike McVeigh

    I have had run flats on 3 BMW s and had one puncture on a motorway, so they saved a potential accident and lots of hassle as I could get to my destination before getting a new tyre. Yes, they are a bit firmer, but handling was not noticeably affected. However I bought a Mini Clubman with 19″ RF tyres and quickly swapped to 17″ standard tyres as the road noise was awful.

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