Considering Run Flats?

When I got my Leaf earlier this year, I promptly got my first flat tire. There’s nothing more annoying than heading to an appointment and feeling the wobble of the steering wheel because of a flat. This got me thinking about getting a set of run flat tires. Here’s what I discovered.

A run-flat tire is designed to keep running even after the tire has run out of air. This technology was created to buy motorists some time so that they can drive to a safer place to change a flat. Although this type of technology has it many benefits, it also has its cons as well namely price and sometime handling performance. The biggest benefit is that drivers can keep driving on a flat tire without fear of being stranded.There are three general types of run-flat tires and they are:

Self supporting – This type of run-flat tire has sidewalls that are much stronger than regular tires. This design was created to allow the sidewalls to bear the weight of your vehicle after it has lost air pressure. Self supporting run-flat tires also have a specially designed bead that ensures that the wheel rim is being protected in the event of a flat. However, the hard sidewall makes for an uncomfortable ride and the heavier tires will negatively affect your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

Auxiliary supported – When a flat occurs, this type of run-flat tire ensures that the tread of the tire rests on a support ring that is attached to the wheel. They were designed in this manner to that the load is taken off of the flat so that you may continue driving your vehicle. This type of run flat tire are lighter than self supporting run flat tires but they are also more expensive and require special wheels.

I still remember an instance years ago where I had a blowout when I was still running regular tires. Not only did I lose a tire, I came out of it with a wheel that was damaged beyond repair and a broken tie rod end.

Self sealing – This type of run-flat type has a special lining of sealant under the tread that automatically seals smalls holes as they occur. If a nail is embedded in your tire, the lining will seal the hole after the foreign object is removed. Unfortunately, the self sealing run-flat tire’s best asset may also be it’s biggest flaw. With this type of run-flat tire, you may drive your vehicle for a long time without realizing that it has been punctured. Nails, for example, can create bigger holes when left in tires for long periods of time which can be problematic for the sealant.

my-flatLike all things, these types of tires have their pros and cons but the positives far outweigh the negatives for some people. Personally, I still use regular tires on my car as the price doesn’t justify the convenience factor and I actually enjoy the process of changing a flat.

That said, I don’t use the cheap scissor lift jack to lift up the car. Ever since my autocrossing days, I’ve used an impact wrench connected to my air compressor from Harbor Freight to make changing tires a breeze! All in all, run-flat tires can be a good choice for some people at delaying the time consuming hassle that is the flat tire but it may not be for everyone.