Run-flat tires, also known as self-supporting tires, are a type of automotive tire designed to continue functioning even after they experience a puncture or a significant loss of air pressure. The main advantage of run-flat tires is their ability to allow a vehicle to continue driving for a limited distance (usually between 50 to 100 miles) at a reduced speed (up to 50 mph) after a puncture occurs. Unlike traditional tires, run-flat tires are constructed with reinforced sidewalls and a stronger bead that allows the tire to maintain its shape even when there is little or no air pressure. This provides drivers with the opportunity to reach a safe location or service station without needing to immediately change the tire.
There are two primary types of run-flat tires:
- Self-supporting run-flat tires: These tires feature reinforced sidewalls that allow them to support the weight of the vehicle even when the tire is deflated. The majority of run-flat tires available on the market are of this type.
- Auxiliary-supported run-flat systems: In this system, a separate support ring is attached to the wheel, which can bear the vehicle’s weight if the tire loses pressure. This type is less common and is typically found on specialized military and heavy-duty vehicles.
While run-flat tires have clear advantages in terms of safety and convenience, they also have some drawbacks:
- Cost: Run-flat tires are generally more expensive than standard tires, both in terms of initial purchase and replacement costs.
- Ride comfort: Due to their stiffer sidewalls, run-flat tires can result in a harsher ride
Overall, run-flat tires can be a good option for drivers who value the convenience of being able to continue driving after a puncture or loss of air pressure, but it is important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks before making a decision.