Run flat tyres can improve the safety of your vehicle, helping you to stay in control even if you experience a tyre blowout.

Read on and find out what a run flat tyre is, how run flats work and how to tell if your car has run flat tyres.


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What Is a Run Flat Tyre?

Run flat tyres – sometimes known as self-supporting tyres - reduce the risk of accidents caused by a sudden puncture, allowing the driver to continue for a limited distance at a reduced speed.

Whilst conventional tyres tend to deflate quickly once punctured, run flats can continue to support the weight of the vehicle even when they are flat or severely underinflated.

Not all vehicles come equipped with run flat tyres as standard, they could be an optional feature or the vehicle could need specific modifications to accomodate run flat tyres. 


How Do Run Flat Tyres Work?

Featuring a reinforced sidewall, run flat tyres won’t break up or disintegrate when they become damaged in the same way as conventional tyres.

This means the driver can stay in control and keep driving until they reach a safe location or garage for further assistance.

It is important to note that run flat tyres must be used along with a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), as the TPMS offers an automatic alert if you get a puncture.


What Are the Advantages of These Tyres?

There are several benefits to using run flats, including the following:

  • Reinforced tyre sidewalls
  • Driver stays in control
  • Reduced risk of tyre coming loose

Run flat tyres are a good option for cars that cannot accommodate a spare wheel, giving you more room in the boot.

When your car uses run flat tyres, you can experience continued mobility even after a puncture.

This can be useful if stopping at the side of a busy road or in bad weather would pose certain risks.

Even so, you should always visit a garage or tyre fitting centre imminently after you experience a puncture.

Run flat tyres give you the chance to continue on to a nearby garage without stopping to change the wheel.


What Are the Disadvantages?

On the downside, there are certain drawbacks to using run flat tyres:

  • More expensive (by up to 50%)
  • Vehicle must have TPMS system
  • Less comfortable ride
  • Limited driving distance
  • Reduced vehicle performance
  • Limited availability
  • Limited repair options

Whilst run flat tyres may be more expensive than regular tyres, they do provide additional safety which can make them worth the extra cost for some motorists.

Another disadvantage to consider is the fact that not all vehicles are compatible with run flat tyres.

Not to mention that they can wear out quicker than regular tyres due to the tough rubber insert that reinforces them, and the stiffer sidewalls can make for a less comfortable ride.


Does My Car Have Run Flats?

Many newer vehicles come with run flat tyres fitted as standard.

You should refer to your vehicle’s specifications or check with the manufacturer to find out if your car is equipped with run flat tyres.

Alternatively, you can open the boot of your car and lift the floor cover up.

If you see a spare tyre in the cavity or a foam filler tyre repair kit, then your car is not fitted with run flat tyres.

If you don’t see either, then it is likely that your car is fitted with run flat tyres.


How Do You Identify Run Flat Tyres?

Run flat tyres look very similar to regular tyres, meaning your car could currently have run flat tyres without you knowing it.

Run flat tyres are marked with terms like ‘run flat’, ‘RFT’ (run flat technology) OR ‘SSR’ (self-supporting run flat) on the tyre sidewall.

These markings can vary depending on the manufacturer, as some tyre manufacturers have their own branding.

There will also be an ISO symbol used to indicate run flat tyres, from the International Organisation for Standardisation.

You can refer to your vehicle’s manual or check the vehicle specifications offered by the manufacturer to find out more.

This can also tell you whether the run flat tyres were installed as original equipment on the vehicle.


How Much Are Run Flat Tyres?

Run flat tyre costs can vary depending on factors like the tyre size and the manufacturer.

Run flat tyres tend to be more expensive that conventional tyres as they require specialised construction and technology.


How Far Can You Drive on Run Flat Tyres?

Drivers who have run flat tyres fitted can keep driving for a maximum distance of up to 50 miles if they experience a puncture – at speeds not exceeding 50mph.

Please note that this can vary depending on the tyre profiles and manufacturer, as well as the load of the vehicle, the road, the outside temperature and the extent of the damage.

You should consult the guidelines provided by the tyre manufacturer in your vehicle’s manual to find the exact distance.


Can You Put Air in Run Flat Tyres?

Whilst run flat tyres can temporarily support the weight of the vehicle with little or no air pressure, they are not designed to be used indefinitely in a deflated state.

You must have the tyre inspected and replaced as soon as possible following a puncture.


Can You Mix Run Flat and Standard Tyres?

You should not mix run flat tyres with regular tyres.

Whilst there aren’t any laws against doing so, this can impact handling, steering and braking ability.

Run flats should only be fitted to new cars that have tyre pressure monitor systems which can sense when there is a puncture.

If you are planning on fitting run flat tyres to your car, make sure that you change all four tyres.


Do I Have to Notify My Insurer?

If you are changing to or from run flat tyres, you must notify your insurer.

This is considered a material change to your vehicle’s configuration, which is why you have to let your insurer know.

Similarly, changing to or from run flat tyres could impact your vehicle’s warranty – so make sure you double-check this before making a change!


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