Are run-flat tyres all that they’re cracked up to be..?

Okay.  So this post isn’t really relevant to the purpose of this blog-site.  However and tenuously methinks, it does relate to technology advances.  I recently purchased a BMW Mini Cooper Clubman – it’s main function to commute me to and from work commitments.  It is equipped with run-flat tyres.  These are commonly fitted to BMWs and all Minis.  Given that the former are very typically used by high mileage driving executives, I felt that I had to post.  Run-flats are touted as having the following benefits:

  • It is dangerous to stop on any road to change a tyre, especially on a motorway or at night.
  • There is no need to have to wait for a breakdown service to arrive.
  • Safety and security of the driver and passenger(s) is maintained.
  • Alloy wheels are difficult to detach from steel hubs.
  • On most cars the spare is under the contents of the boot, and uses boot space.
  • It can be tricky to line up the wheel bolt holes with the hub screw holes and match the thread.
  • The dirty punctured tyre needs to be removed and stored in the boot.
  • Another puncture before the punctured tyre is mended means one is stranded.

Yup.  These are all very good reasons.  However, first consider having no spare combined with the popular breakdown services not in the business of carrying replacements, the fact that these types of tyres cannot be roadside mended, plus the business hours of most garages and tyre fitters.  Then consider the fact that standard manufacturer guidelines recommend travelling on a ‘flat’ run-flat at between 30-50MPH for no more than 50 miles.  I don’t know about you, but most of my business miles are well over 50 miles from home and don’t necessarily fit in with typical business opening hours.  And if you’re driving habits aren’t comparable, what about those occasional long distance drives when on holiday, perhaps even abroad?  In situations like this when running on-flat, with your milage and maximum speed limited, you are immediately the victim of the tyre prices for the nearest available fitter – and that’s if there is one available!

In a relatively short spell of time experiencing these technologically advanced run-flat tyres I:

  • Have almost missed an early morning ferry back from Brittany, France.  There were no nearby garages supplying replacements open on route before 7am so I limped back to the ferry terminal on frequent inflation stops;
  • Was late for a work meeting as the AA don’t mend, or replace, tyres at the roadside – and I was 90 miles from home.  In fact, I had to argue my rescue on the basis that the car was never supplied with a spare, or puncture gunk.  Luckily, on this occasion, I was recovered within business hours and managed to get a replacement tyre – albeit at more than 25% over the average price!

Should you consider run-flat tyres?  If your journeys are very rarely more than to the local shops, or within a 25 mile radius of your home or trusted tyre fitter, then perhaps.  Otherwise, it’s a definite snub!



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