What is a Run Flat Tyre?

Tyres are surprisingly complex creations that are made up of many different elements. There’s far more to them than the outer rubber ring, which incidentally, is also crafted in a way that plays a bigger part in keeping you safe than you’d think. The point is, they’re not easy to make and as such when one goes pop, it’s a pretty big deal. It can set you back financially and even leave you stranded at the roadside in the middle of nowhere.

Run flat tyres aim to make that second point a thing of the past, giving you the chance to travel up to 50 miles at less than 50 mph even with a puncture.

How to Identify Run Flat Tyres

There are a few ways to tell if your vehicle is equipped with run flats. Each of these checks can be completed at the roadside if necessary:

  1. Owner’s Manual – The manual provided by the car manufacturer should tell you which type of tyres are on the car already. Of course, if you’ve bought the car second-hand, a previous owner may have already had them changed for a new set of traditional tyres, so don’t take the booklet as gospel.
  2. Read the Tyre Wall – On the outside of every tyre, there should be a series of letters and numbers. We’ve already covered what these mean and how to read them, but now, you’re looking for one of a particular set of codes.
    • ROF: Stands for ‘Run On Flat’. This code is typically seen on Goodyear, Bridgestone and Dunlop tyres.
    • EMT: Stands for ‘Extended Mobility Technology. Sometimes seen on other Goodyear tyres.
    • ZP/ZPS: Seen on Michelin and Yokohama tyres.
  3. Check For a Spare – Does your car have a spare wheel lurking under the floor panel in your boot? If you lift it and find a puncture repair kit instead, it’s more likely that your car comes with run-flat tyres – they remove the need for a spare.

Can You Repair Run Flat Tyres?

Getting any tyre repaired after a puncture is probably ill-advised, with many technicians instead recommending a brand-new replacement. Repairing a run-flat is even less likely to be suggested by a mechanic due to the makeup of this variety of tyre. The ‘running on flat’ ability is what the Americans would call a ‘one and done’ thing. It’s only supposed to happen once, then the tyre should be recycled as any significant damage caused by the puncture might be disguised by the reinforcement to the rubber.

There’s also the issue of the exact distance and speeds that the tyre was subjected to while running flat. If it was driven on for 30 miles, for example, that extra wear-and-tear will still be present if the tyre is patched up again. It will never be safe to drive another 50 miles on it after a second puncture.

If your run flat has been punctured, it’s always best to replace it, or if you were planning on scrapping the car, don’t worry about getting a new tyre beforehand – Scrap Car Comparison can help you sell your vehicle without tyres, or even wheels!

How Do Run Flat Tyres Work?

It’s probably safe to assume that in developing run-flat tyres, the manufacturers spent millions of pounds and went through countless prototype iterations. However, the actual build-up of a run-flat tyre is, to the untrained eye, very simple.

Unlike a regular tyre, which wilts under the weight of your car when the air begins to seep out, the wall (the smooth, outer part that’s usually embossed with the brand name and tyre size information) is reinforced to such an extent that for around 50 miles after a puncture, it can still hold its shape!

Are Run Flat Tyres Any Good?

In terms of getting you out of a tight spot, run-flat tyres are great and an undeniable upgrade on standards that go floppy at the sight of a stray nail or piece of glass. Yes, they’re pricier than normal tyres and sure, some people think they’re less comfortable to drive on due to the stiffer wall, but all-in-all, they’re the natural advancement in tyre tech. You wouldn’t have needed a crystal ball to predict that one day, somebody would invent something similar.

The biggest downside to run-flat tyres is that, while they should be compatible with your car’s wheels, they may not match up well with your car’s other technological capabilities. Allow me to explain…

It’s probably not a good idea to use run-flat tyres on any vehicle that doesn’t have a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). This fancy device pops a message up on your dashboard letting you know when there’s been a sudden change to your tyre pressure and it’s getting low. In other words, it lets you know you’ve got a puncture. With regular tyres, you wouldn’t need this system – you can feel and hear when you’ve blown a tyre. Run flats won’t feel much different when they’re punctured than how they do when they’re intact, meaning that if you don’t have a TPMS, you could be driving along at 70mph without even realising some sharp debris poked a hole in your tyre 60 miles ago.

So, for cars with adequate technology, run flats are the way to go. For every other vehicle, keep it old school with traditional tyres.

If a flat tyre is one of many problems your old, run-down car is facing, maybe it’s time to upgrade to something better. Cash in on your old vehicle by selling it as scrap or salvage with Scrap Car Comparison. We can get you the best quotes from scrap buyers nationwide in just 30 seconds and our network of Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) partners is so vast, we can even arrange for the car to be collected free of charge. Use our online valuation calculator to find out just how much your car could be worth today!

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