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You may not have heard the term run-flat tires, but you definitely know what they are. The term refers to the tires that can suffer a puncture and still be able to work for a considerably long time. As is the case with almost everything car-related, there is a laundry list of errors that can be made if you don't have the appropriate knowledge before purchasing.
From common car insurance mistakes to getting swindled by a car salesman using secrets of the trade, you have to be prepared before you engage in any business with a vehicle. This is especially true for the type of tire you want to use. In order for you to know which type of tire is best, you'll need to learn the pros and cons of having run-flat tires. If you are thinking there are no cons to using a run-flat tire, you might just be surprised.
Pro: You can continue to drive on a flat tire.
Before you say, "Duh," or any other negative, potentially crueler remark, relax. I know this is obvious, but I thought going over the specifics would help. Generally, if a run-flat tire is punctured it can, depending on the brand you buy from, last 50-100 miles. This gives you ample time to realize what's happened and get to an auto-shop to replace the deflating wheel. If this does happen, don't test their limits and become Ansel Elgort from Baby Driver. Slow your speed, drive with care, and head to your closest repair shop.
Con: Run-flat tires are less smooth.
No, I'm not talking about the physical tire itself. Most of the pros and cons of having run-flat tires deal with money and their ability to endure punctures, but this one applies to comfort. Since the tires are made with protection and sturdiness in mind, they are less than ideal for bumpy roads.
This is due to the sidewalls having less flexibility and give. So whenever you drive over a pothole, speeding hump, speeding bump (Yes, they are two different things), or a road in serious need of repair, you'll be feeling it and then some. If you drive over uneven surfaces or rough terrain often, the tougher ride may not be worth the benefits run-flats offer.
Pro: Stability is king.
If you find yourself with a flat tire and miles away from the repair shop, you won't really feel a difference. Designed to support your vehicle with no air, run-flat tires ensure stability and will, in turn, make you panic less than a traditional tire would. At the very least, it will soothe some of your anger if you do need a replacement.
Con: There is less variety available for run-flat tires.
There are countless tires to choose from for you car. Unfortunately, very few of them feature run-flat technology. The same can be said for replacing them. You may have to special order them or wait long periods before getting news ones. So even if you know the pros and cons of having run-flat tires, not being able to physically purchase them makes all the rest moot.
Pro: Blowouts pose no problem.
Everyone now knows that run-flat tires can withstand a puncture and keep driving for 50-100 miles, but they protect you from more than that. Blowouts are when the sidewall of the tire is punctured and can be even more dangerous. They can dramatically decrease air pressure, oftentimes at a much quicker rate than something piercing the bottom of your tire. Since run-flat tires have their sidewalls reinforced for protection, the odds of a blowout becoming a major safety concern are greatly reduced.
Con: There is no spare tire.
In the worst case scenario when you're out in the middle of nowhere, not having a spare tire can be a real bummer. The same can be said if your run-flat tires malfunction in any way. Bottom line, having a spare in your vehicle is reassuring and can save you if all else fails.
Unfortunately, cars that are made with run-flats don't carry extra tires. So even if you know how to change a flat tire, it won't mean a thing. Even after reading the pros and cons of having run-flat tires, if you're a hyper-paranoid person like me (I've watched way too many crime and medical dramas not to be one), having a spare tire in your car may be the move.
Pro: There is no spare tire.
See what I did there? While a disadvantage for some, having no spare tire can certainly count as a benefit for others. Spare tires take up a lot of space and weigh a good amount; this translates to less room in your car (usually in the trunk) and a higher gas bill (heavier cars require more fuel to move). One of the features that is both a pro and a con of having run-flat tires, having no spare tire can give you more room and save you some money in the long-run. It is ultimately your decision, just remember there are two sides to the spare tire coin.
Con: They do not last as long as a traditional tire.
While they can save you money on gas in the long-run, the cost of replacing your tires more frequently may balance that out. A key finding from a study done by J.D. Power was that:
"Customers with run-flat tires are twice as likely to have to replace their tires as are those with standard tires."
This is mainly due to the wear and tear these tires handle on a day-to-day basis. With rigid, low shock-absorbing sidewalls it stands to reason they don't last as long as a traditional tire. It's best to memorize the pros and cons of having run-flat tires, if you end up purchasing them you may be buying more soon.
Pro: You can swap them out with regular tires.
So you read all the pros and cons of having run-flat tires and have decided to buy them. Once you begin to use them, you find out that you may have underestimated the cons a tad. Does having run-flat tires complicate anything if you want to replace them? No, nothing of the sort. If you want to, for any reason, go back to regular tires, then simply go to your mechanic/auto-shop and have them replace your run-flats. It's as simple as that.
Con: Run-flat tires are more expensive than a traditional tire.
Of all the pros and cons of having run-flat tires, this one may be the most important as it directly affects your wallet from the get-go. Since they are specially designed and built to withstand impact, they are going to cost more than a traditionally-made tire.
With run-flat tires costing 35-200 percent more than traditional tires, they may not be worth the price if you don't puncture your tires with regularity. The final price will vary with what model of car you have, but it will cost more in end.