Every car manufacturer knows that tires are a basic part of a vehicle. In the 21st century, the motoring giants have improvised run-flat tires to outdo their competitors. This brings the question, are run-flat tires worth all the praise? But first of all, what do run flat tires mean (RFT). What are run-flat tires?
What are run-flat tires?
Run-flat tires refer to tires meant to deviate from the law of deflation that dictates one must come to a halt in case of deflation. They are the special type of tires that are fitted with materials that enable one to drive for a certain mileage after the tires become deflated. Flat tires are pneumatic, meaning that the rim of a vehicle is the one used by the vehicle to drive. The bad thing about flat tire is that the vehicle is not stable and it can get an accident anytime.
With the rising awareness that run-flat tires are capable of enabling one to drive after a deflation, it is prudent to identify the unique characteristics of a run-flat tire. This is because some corrupt individuals could venture into producing replicas of the original run-flat tire, something that could tamper with the security of the users. These are some of the common features that make it easy to identify a run-flat tire;
There are unique codes depending with the tire manufacturer which makes it easy to differentiate them from the standard tires.
How to identify run-flat tires:
These include such codes as:
RFT (Run Flat Tire) in the case of Bridgestone tires,
SSR (Self Supporting Run-flat) by Continental and
DSST (D unloop Self Supporting Run-flat).
The tire could also contain other codes such as ZP or SEAL.
In addition, a run-flat tire contains an image of a tire that is flat, usually with an arrow that points away from it. If you have poor eyesight, you will not be able to see this and as a result, you are required to use magnifying lens to see it since it is small. Another way of identifying run-flat tire is looking for special features in the area that bonds with the rim. Many of the run-flat tires have a plastic, slugs that are load-bearing, unlike their predecessors which had rims attached to them. Some manufacturers have been turning to manufacture cars with run-flat tires in a bid to woo customers.
This information is found in the purchase manual.
How do run flat tires work
There are two types of run-flat systems; self-supporting and support-ring system.
Self-supporting system. In this case, the special features of the tire that are reinforced in the sidewalls make it easy for the tire to support the vehicle if deflation occurs.
Support-ring system. These tires work by the means of a hard rubber or any other hard ideal structure that could be used to support the vehicle if the tire air pressure is lost. In this situation, the material is put as a ring around the sidewalls of the tire to form a ring-shape.
What do run flat tires (RFT) cost
The cost of the run-flat tire is immaterial to their purpose. A passenger vehicle`s run-flat tire costs between $150 to $500 for a single tire. This price is not reasonable since the tires are priced 30%-200% higher than the standard tires. The tires are replaced in pairs, unlike the standard tires where the affected tire is replaced alone. In case of a puncture, the cost of a pair ranges $300-$1000. Additional cost $5-$10 is used in the replacement of a single wheel. This brings the total cost of replacing a pair to average $25. If the pressure sensors in the vehicle are affected, the cost of replacing them is between $50 and $250 depending on the quality. This makes run-flat tires very expensive compared to the standard tires.
How long do run flat tires last
Run-flat tires are not meant to last forever after deflation. Their main purpose is to enable one drive to the garage or ideal place where a replacement can be done. This is the reason why I say their pricing is not reasonable when you compare it to how long they are able to serve.
In case of a puncture, the person driving the vehicle is limited to driving at 80 km/h. This is not good speed enough, especially if they are being pursued by attackers. The tires allow one to drive for up to only 50 miles. Afterward, the tires must be replaced with another pair.
Best performance run flat tires
There are several companies known best for manufacturing quality RFTs. They form the vast companies in the industry and their models are respected globally. These models include;Michelin Pilot Sports A/S Plus ZP which has a direct steering feel and wet fraction, Pirelli P Zero that has a good traction for snow Yokohama AVID that provides a good dry weather handling, and Bridgestone Potenza RE960AS Pole Position RFT. This is very handy RFT which makes many vehicle users use it.
They are the only famous and reliable run-flat tires that have made the RFT models to be afloat even after other competitors have been crusading against its use.
Cons of RFT:
RFTs have their own share of their problems and this is what has been pushing potential clients into looking for alternative uses. These problems if handled well could remove all the doubt hovering the idea of purchasing the tires and they include;
- Cost. RFTs are very expensive in terms of purchasing and replacement. This makes it hard to afford them compared to the standard tires.
- Durability. Once the tire has made it to the maximum distance possible, it is disposed of. Were it possible to recycle it, it would be better.
- Economy. It is not reasonable to replace a pair when it is only a single tire affected. This is in consideration of the high cost of the tires.
- Compatibility. They are only compatible to vehicles fitted with Tire-Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
- Wastage. The tire cannot be repaired and this is wastage of resources.
Bottom line: are run flats worth it?
Despite all the hype surrounding the whole idea of going run-flat, this is proving to be a white elephant. It is wastage of resources going for RFT considering its cost-benefits are just unrealistic. The standard tires will always outdo RFTs anytime.