In the most simple of terms, run- flat tires let you safely drive your vehicle to a tire retailer such as Belle Tire even when it has lost all its air.
They work so well, the driver often won’t even know the tire has lost air pressure, which makes a tire pressure monitoring system essential.
The key to making this possible are reinforced sidewalls, or additional stiff rubber pieces that can support the weight of the car. Even with no tire pressure at all, the driver can continue driving for about 50 miles at speeds up to 55 mph, depending on the tire.
Additionally, the run-flat tires are fitted onto special wheels so when the tire is punctured and loses air, there is no way the tire can come off the wheel.
Anti-lock braking systems, traction control and all other vehicle safety systems continue working with run-flat tires.
In addition to the many technical benefits run-flats provide, there are personal benefits as well. If you were to get a flat tire, run-flats eliminate the need to change a tire which can be not only inconvenient, especially in inclement weather, but potentially dangerous. Run-flats also remove the possibility of suffering a blow out at a high rate of speed as the transition from proper tire pressure to zero pressure is essentially imperceptible to the driver.
One more benefit: With run flat tires, there is no need to carry a spare, which frees up space in the trunk of a sedan. Or, in the case of the Toyota Sienna, it freed up space for the driveshaft that makes Sienna the only minivan available with all-wheel drive.
Of course, the benefits are balanced by additional buying considerations. Run-flat tires are typically more expensive than conventional tires, cannot be repaired (only replaced), and some drivers find the ride of a car equipped with run-flats is harder.
Still, the benefits are real, and for anyone adverse to the negatives of getting and changing a flat tire, run flats can be an attractive option.
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