A guide to run flat tyres

You’ve no doubt heard the term ‘run-flat’ flying around when buying car tyres recently. It’s fairly self-explanatory, but it’s important to know the details behind run flat tyres so that you can buy exactly what you need, and don’t pay more than you need to.

What are run flat tyres?

Run-flats are not a new invention. Early run flat tyres were invented in the 1930s, where a fabric tyre sat inside the normal rubber tire, and in the case of a blowout, the fabric tire would allow you to get to safety. Nowadays, it’s much the same concept. Inside a tyre exists an extra lining that self-seals should a nail or sharp object puncture it. This prevents the loss of air and can be driven up to 80km at up to 80km/h. It’s like having a space-saver in your regular tyre. Armoured cash delivery vans and military vehicles often have run flat tyres equipped in the case of conflict or gunfire.

Why do people buy run-flat tyres?

Run flat tyres have become popular recently, partly as a result of them often being found on European cars as OEM equipment. Many BMW cars now have run-flats equipped, coming straight from the factory. In fact BMW is the largest fitter of run flat tyres as original equipment.

The biggest factor to consider with run flat tyres is convenience. It’s an attractive thought barrelling down the highway and not having to stop and change your tyre immediately after a nail gets stuck in it. Punctures always seem to happen at the worst time – you’re late for work, it’s raining and there’s little space on the side of the road to change a tyre. It’s little wonder that some motorists favour the added convenience of run flat tyres.

It can mean the difference between making an interview, date or meeting on time and being stuck out in the rain changing a tyre. Furthermore, run-flats eliminate the need for a spare tyre, which can make extra space in the boot and potentially mean you save money on fuel, providing the run-flats have a comparable rolling resistance. The conveniences of run-flat tyres are very attractive; however there are drawbacks – read below:

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How much do run flat tyres cost?

One of the main drawbacks of run flat tyres is the cost. Convenience comes at a hefty price, and run flat tyres are not cheap. A visit to JaxTyres indicates that the cheapest run flat is $165 per tyre, for a 16 inch wheel. On the other end, the most expensive is over $1,000! Granted, this is for a 21 inch wheel that is ultra-wide and for an SUV, but it seems the sky is the limit for the price of convenience.

Let’s compare a run flat tyre with its regular counterpart. For example, the Bridgestone Potenza RE050A run flat tyre (sized 235/45/17) costs $255. Compare this with the Bridgestone Potenza Adrenalin RE003 in the same size, which is $169 per tyre. They aren’t the exact same model, but they are similar and have similar uses. It’s up to you to decide if paying an extra $320 or so for a set of tyres is worth it for the convenience in the rare event you get a flat tyre.

Are run-flat tyres worth the money?

Assessing value is a very subjective thing, which is why we encourage exploring your options. To the travelling salesperson that has meetings all across the state and needs to travel by car, the increased likelihood of getting a puncture means that run flat tyres are almost an easy decision. On the other hand, for the person who only drives on weekends to the local supermarket, they are a very expensive ‘convenience’.

Also take into account the fact that run flat tyres are only resistant to puncture if the puncture is not in the sidewall. Sidewall punctures render the tyre as useless as any normal tyre, and sidewall punctures are quite common. Fuel economy is also affected, thanks to the increased weight of run-flats. After all, you basically have two layers of ‘tyre’ per wheel.

We consider the best counter-attack to a pesky nail puncture is the ability to practise your tyre-changing skills and become faster at it. Doing this will save you money while minimising time sacrifices. Overall, we consider run flat tyres a very convenient option, if expensive. You’ll have to weigh up the cost to convenience ratio, and decide whether run-flats are worth it. Our best advice is to stick with the tyre-type that comes originally with the car. For BMWs, this is mostly a run flat tyre, while for most other manufacturers it will be a regular tyre. Let’s finish by weighing up the pros and cons of run flat tyres.



No need to change tyre in case of a flat

Expensive – often hundreds more than regular tyres for a full set

Time saver – no changing tyres

Not resistant to sidewall punctures

Potential weight saver due to no spare tyre

Potential fuel waster due to heavier tyres, even without spare

Enables you to drive around safely under 80km/h to the tyre shop for a replacement

Very rare as OEM tyres and usually only on luxury cars

If you’re considering buying fun flat tyres, we hope this guide proves useful. Just remember, the more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to suffer a puncture. So keep that in mind when deciding whether or not you need them.

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