Wednesday rant: Run flat tyres are way worse than standard ones!
Every Wednesday a member of the DesperateSeller.co.uk will try and document the things that annoy them about cars or just motoring in general. This week the subject is run flat tyres.
I have to start my rant by saying that run flat tyres are just not worth it! Having always owned cars fitted with standard tyres I was intrigued when the new car I brought, a Mini Countryman, was fitted with run flat tyres. I hadnít heard much about run flat tyres before but vaguely remembered something about being able to drive with them even if you have a puncture. I was interested in trying them out and dare I say it even a little excited to have a new type of Ďsuperí tyre on my car.
Unfortunately, these feelings didnít last long. The first thing I noticed on my first proper drive was how firm the ride was. There didnít appear to be much give in the tyres, especially when hitting potholes. You literally feel everything you drive over. My poor back can vouch for that! Within the first week of ownership I was already missing the smooth drive of my last car which of course ran on standard tyres. I found myself reminiscing to friends and family about my old tyres Ė I didnít see that coming!
Itís all due to the fact that the major difference between run flat tyres and standard tyres is that the former has reinforced sidewalls. This stops the tyre from completely collapsing down to the wheel trim in the event of a puncture. Instead the sidewalls prop up the tyre and allow it to remain in a fairly consistent state. A bit like having a normal tyre with half the air in it. This design is what allows you to be able to continue driving even when there is no air in the tyre. It must be said at this point that you are limited to a maximum of 50mph for a maximum of 50 miles. The idea being that in most cases thatís a big enough mileage allowance to get you to a tyre centre for a replacement or to get you home.
On paper the 50mph/50miles concept sounds great but in order have this Ďget out of jailí card you need to be prepared to sacrifice a lot. Iíve already mentioned the very apparent increase in driving discomfort, but thereís more. They cost on average half as much as a standard tyre and in some cases, depending on the brand, twice as much. For my Mini I have paid up to £200 for one tyre Ė itís only a Mini! In my experience I have also had to replace them more often as they appear to wear, especially in the insides, a lot more than a standard tyre. Iím not sure if this is related to the reinforced sidewalls.
If you listen to the manufacturers the main benefit of run flat, apart from the 50mph/50miles concept, is that by not having a spare wheel the overall weight of the car is reduced therefore helping with your MPG. This may well be mathematically true, but I honestly donít believe the upside of this outweighs the downsides.
Any savings made in MPG are reduced by paying more per tyre and, in my case, having to buy tyre replacements more often. In fact, I donít even really benefit from having the Ďget out of jailí card as when I drive to Scotland from Cambridge (one of my frequent trips) I have resorted to carrying a space saver wheel in the boot I brought from eBay as back up! I do not want to be caught driving through the Highlands miles away from any town or even any humans at 11pm on a Sunday night!
So, itís for these reasons I really wish run flat tyres had never been invented. I can see the logic on paper of their design and use but in daily life they are a pain. Who would have thought that now, as part of my car buying process, the first question I will ask is not how good is the MPG or whatís its car tax band? No, it will be Ďdoes the car come with standard tyres and a spareí! Let me know your thoughts and experiences on running a car with run flat tyres.