Extraordinary innovations have been made in recent years across almost all sectors. The automotive industry is at the forefront. We've had tyre sealant sprays and now the trend is for puncture proof tyres. Yes, there are now runflat tyres that you can still drive on for miles, even after they've gone flat. But isn't that just sales talk? How do you recognise them? What criteria should you bear in mind when choosing these kind of tyres? Tyreleader.co.uk will tell you everything about the tyres that could radically change your way of driving.
Puncture-proof runflat tyres
You'll find them under many different names: runflat tyres (or run-flats or run flats), MOE tyres, self-supporting tyres, etc. They feature and reinforced sidewalls and beads to support the weight of the vehicle without any air pressure so you can keep on driving even with a puncture. The bead connected to the edge of the rim does not come off, even if the rubber is punctured.
Contrary to popular misconceptions, runflats are therefore not puncture-proof tyres.
The advantages of runflat tyres
Among the many reasons that motorists choose self-supporting tyres, the number one reason is their increased security. When your vehicle is fitted with tyres like this, you have total control of your vehicle, even if there is a sudden loss of pressure. With runflat tyres you can drive over 80 km at a maximum speed of 80 km/h with no worries. This gives you ample opportunity to find a garage where you can get your breakdown fixed. It's always better to find a garage than changing your tyre by yourself at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.
The other advantage of runflat tyres is that you don't have to have a spare tyre or a puncture spray.
The disadvantages of this type of tyre
The first disadvantage to runflats is their price, which is usually around 20 to 25% higher than standard tyres. They are also more expensive to fit, and not all garages are equipped to fit these special tyres on vehicles.
The other unfortunate thing about runflats as that they can't be repaired. Once you get a puncture in them, you are strongly advised not to use them again. You will just have to buy new tyres. If you want more information on flat tyres, follow our guide.
Last but not least, runflats with their rigid sidewalls don't feel quite as nice as standard tyres, because they are noisier and firmer on the road.
How to recognise runflat tyres
They are easily identified by the "Run Flat", "RFT" (which stands for Run Flat Type) and "R/F" markings that the vast majority of manufacturers add on the sidewalls.
Some manufacturers choose to use custom markings for their run-flat tyres to distinguish them from others. That's why there are different names. Here are some of them:
- Run On Flat used by Dunlop and Goodyear;
- ZP (Zero Pressure) at Michelin;
- Continental's SSR or Self Supporting Runflat;
- EMT or Extended Mobility Tyre at Goodyear;
- MOE or Mercedes RunOnFlat Extended at Mercedes;
- DSST (Dunlop Self-supporting Technology)…
Also if you see SST (Self Supporting Tyre), Euforia (from Pirelli), EXT or MOE (Mercedes) on a tyre sidewall, it's definitely a runflat.
How to choose the best runflat tyre
You don't just pick a standard tyre randomly. You have to take even more care when it comes to models with special technology. Dimensions, load and speed indices, and your style of driving will help you choose.
The dimensions recommended by the manufacturer
Each model has unique characteristics that are shown on its sidewall. These include height, width and diameter. The technical specifications for your new tyre have to be the same as the specs for the original tyres.
Do you know where to find this information? Look for a code on your current tyres. You will see a sequence of letters and numbers in the following form: 205/55R16 91V. In this example, 205 is the width in millimetres, 55 is the height of the sidewall expressed as a percentage of the width, and 16 is the diameter of the rim in inches.
The maximum weight and speed supported by the tyre
The load and speed indices respectively provide information about the maximum load and speed that a tyre can support.
Pay attention to these two parameters for your own safety. In fact, opting for runflats with load or speed indices that are too low increases the risks of your tyres bursting and other accidents (because you don't drive as smoothly). Also, you’re likely to get a fine if you don’t equip your vehicle with a tyre with an appropriate load and speed index.
You will also find the information about these indices on the original model's sidewall. If we look at our previous example, they are respectively represented by the number 91 (or 615kg) and the letter V (or 240 km/h).
Choose tyres that give you good grip on the ground
Tyres react differently depending on whether they are used on dry, wet, snow-covered, slippery or icy ground. Summer or 4-season tyres are the most suitable for dry roads.
When temperatures drop, the kind of roadholding you get with a traditional tyre soon becomes insufficient. Fortunately, there are runflat tyres specially designed to adapt to wet and snowy conditions. These runflats are winter tyres that you can easily recognise thanks to the two M+S (Mud and Snow) and 3PMSF (a snowflake surrounded by 3 mountain peaks) markings. They have a special tread which quickly drains water and adapts perfectly to wintry surfaces. Thanks to their special sipes, you can drive without skidding on ice and snow-covered tarmac.
Our selection of runflat tyres
There are a multitude of runflat tyres on the market. To make your job easier, Tyreleader.co.uk's tyre experts have selected some of the benchmark models from our catalogue. You'll find a suggestion at the top of this page. For more results, please enter your dimensions into the selector at the top of the page. Remember to tick the runflat box.
In this section of our comprehensive guide to runflat tyres, we've selected some frequently asked questions from motorists.
How do I know if my vehicle can be fitted with a runflat tyre?
Not all vehicles can accommodate tyres with self-supporting sidewalls. Only cars that are designed specially for these tyre models and that come with them can use them. They are equipped with a TPMS or SSPP (pressure control system). This means losses in pressure are immediately detected.
Can I replace my runflat tyres with standard tyres and vice versa?
Yes, you can swap them. Please note that you need to fit an anti-puncture device.
Can I fit two traditional tyres on the front and use tyres with Run Flat technology on the rear?
Using these two types of tyres on the same vehicle is prohibited.