Everything You Need To Know About Run Flat Tyres

When it comes to car tyres, there are so many different types and brands to choose from which is often a daunting process. Run flat tyres are just one example and while you may have heard about them, some explanations are not quite on par. So, we decided to compile a few common FAQs and answers that should help make it all a little easier.

What Are Run Flat Tyres?

Run flat tyres are specially designed with reinforced sidewalls to support the weight of a vehicle in the event of a puncture. As a result, you can drive on these tyres despite reduced tyre pressure, giving you more time to find a safe place to pull over or find the nearest tyre fitment centre.

How Do Run Flat Tyres Work?

Normal car tyres only work when they are properly inflated to keep their shape. When a puncture occurs, the air escapes and they will go flat. If you try to drive on a flat standard tyre, it could detach from the wheel and even shred which could severely impact vehicle control. Run flat tyres are different as they don’t solely rely on air to keep their shape and they have thicker sidewalls. While they will still deflate when there’s a puncture, they don’t go down completely and the reinforced sides maintain their shape to grip the road.

Does My Car Have Run-Flats?

To see if your car is fitted with these types of tyres, open the boot of your car and lift the floor cover. If you see a spare tyre neatly nestled underneath or a foam filler tyre repair kit, your vehicle has standard tyres. However, if neither a spare nor a tyre repair kit is present, there is a good chance your car has run flat tyres.

How Do I Know A Tyre Is Run-Flat?

While you can identify these tyres by special symbols on the sidewall, there is no standard code. However, most tyre manufacturers have their own markings as indicated on the list below:

Which Cars Have Run-Flats?

As you may already be aware, the government made tyre pressure monitors mandatory on new cars in 2012. Since then, many manufacturers have increased their focus on fitting run-flats to their vehicles. Some of the car companies that use self-supporting run flat tyres include Mini, BMW, Mercedes and Audi. However, you’ll need to check whether a specific vehicle has them since many manufacturers don’t fit them on all of their models. Volkswagen, for example, offers self-sealing run-flats on its Arteon and Tiguan which usually come with a spare wheel as well.

Can Run Flat Tyres Be Repaired?

This is a popular question and, unfortunately, the answer is a resounding ‘no’. When your run-flats get a puncture or any type of damage, you should always replace them. Once the structural integrity of a run-flat tyre is compromised in any way, a repair cannot guarantee that it will function as intended. It’s also discouraged since fitters don’t know how long or how fast the tyre has been driven which means they won’t be able to identify the best way to fix it. As such, most fitters don’t offer to repair and will instead recommend a replacement.

Related: Can A Tyre Be Repaired Twice?

Can I Fit Normal Tyres To A Car With Run-Flats?

In theory, you can but it’s worth noting that you may lose some of the steering precision if your car was designed with stiffer self-supporting run-flat tyres. If you do, you also need to get a spare tyre or a tyre repair kit in case of a puncture which will take up space in the boot. You should also never mix them with standard tyres as run-flats have a tyre pressure monitor system (TPMS) that senses a puncture and displays a warning on the dashboard. If you want standard tyres, we highly recommend that you replace and fit them on all the wheels.

How Far Can I Drive On Punctured Run-Flat Tyres?

Most manufacturers recommend that you don’t exceed 50 mph and avoid driving more than 50 miles. Although they are stronger in design, these tyres are not indestructible. If you drive too fast or too far on flat tyres, they can start to break apart.

How Long Do Run Flat Tyres Last?

Considering they are built using the same materials as conventional tyres, they should last as long. However, the legal minimum 1.6 mm tread depth level still applies and your driving style and the road conditions also play a part.

Are Run-Flats Better Than Normal Tyres?

Whilst many modern cars have run flat tyres as standard, some vehicle owners change to standard ones, most likely due to the lower price and smoother ride. The biggest benefit of run-flats is the added security and peace of mind they offer. Knowing you can drive for some distance on a flat tyre without causing damage is priceless. There’s no right or wrong answer here as it all depends on personal preference and budget. All we can say is, if your car came with OE run flat tyres, you should try to always replace like for like.

How To Change A Car Tyre

First off, don’t try and change a tyre if your personal safety is at risk or if you are missing the essential tools. Only perform a tyre change if you are in a safe location with all the tools and a spare wheel or a space-saver. Fortunately, the process of changing a tyre is largely the same across the board but if you don’t have a spare wheel and only a tyre repair kit, read this article for some guidance. To see how to change a tyre, have a look at this video from RAC.

Run Flat Tyres From Elite Garages

Three generations work in harmony at Elite Garages, allowing us to deliver the best possible service you’d expect from a family-owned MOT, service and tyre fitment centre. Operating from various locations covering the entire south and southeast of England means we’ve got you covered no matter what the issue might be.

If you notice uneven tyre wear or are concerned about your tyre age, contact your nearest Elite branch as soon as possible. You can request a free tyre check where our expert technicians will look at everything in great detail. We will also provide you with a breakdown of their findings and recommend the next steps. 

If your tyre is punctured or damaged in any way, try and get to your nearest Elite fitment centre as soon as you can and as safely as possible. Our skilled technicians can check your run flat tyres and replace them if necessary, while you wait. Here is a closer look at our wide range of quality tyres for sale.