A flat tire is never a welcome occurrence and often appears at the worst place or time. You may think your only options are to wait for roadside assistance or struggle through putting the spare on. However, struggling through a dirty tire change, discovering you have no spare tire, or waiting prolonged periods for aid can be extremely frustrating.
Fortunately, with some forethought, you have another option. Run-flat tires have been around since the 1930s and allow you to continue driving, even when the tire goes flat. In theory, they enable you to drive far enough to make it to a service station. The question is: just how long can you drive on a run flat tire?
How long can you drive on a run flat tire? You can actually drive a fair distance. Most run-flat tires can make it 100 miles, but there are limits on how fast you can drive on one. Consult the owner’s manual for exact specifications on how fast and far you can make it.
What is a Run-Flat Tire?
These are tires made with a reinforced sidewall capable of supporting a vehicle’s weight even if the tire has a total loss of air pressure. This means you can get a flat tire but still continue driving, just not for much longer. This also means you do not have to stop on a busy highway, in inclement weather, or in other unsavory conditions to fix a flat.
Here are some other features and must-knows for these type of tires:
If your tire goes flat, you will have to reduce speed to 50 miles per hour in order to maximize the distance you can cover. To know the exact limits for your vehicle and tires, check your owner’s manual.
A blowout on the road can be terrifying and result in destabilization as the car reacts to the sudden change. With run-flat tires, you can expect to drive with better stability. Since it is designed to support the vehicle’s weight for miles without air, the sudden deflation will cause less tread destabilization and weight transfer as the car adjusts. You can expect handling and steering to remain rather stable from blowout to repair.
Another feature of this type of tire is the lower vehicle weight. You will not carry tire repair tools or a spare wheel, so overall weight is reduced. However, the added sidewall reinforcement of run-flats means that the weight may not decrease as much as you expect.
How Does It Work?
There are two types of run-flat systems: support ring and self-supporting systems.
The support ring has a ring of hard rubber or another firm structure to support the vehicle’s weight if air loss occurs.
The self-supporting system has reinforced sidewall construction to continue supporting the vehicle in the case of a flat. It permits continued operation without sufficient air pressure for the specified distance and speed provided by the manufacturer.
An important note is that both types of systems require a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that is typically equipped in the vehicle. The TPMS is required to monitor air pressure and alert you of lost pressure. Without the system, you may not know if you are driving on an under inflated or flat tire. The good news is that every vehicle manufactured since 2008 has some sort of TPMS built-in thanks to the TREAD Act.
How Do I Know If I Have a Run-Flat Tire?
These days, run-flat tires are standard on roughly 14% of new vehicles. To find out if your car is equipped with this type of tire, consult the owner’s manual or the car dealer where you procured the vehicle.
What to Do If Your Run-Flat Tire Goes Flat?
There are two things to know if a run-flat tire goes flat: 1) slow down and 2) stop soon. You can theoretically make it up to 100 miles on a flat run-flat, but you certainly do not want to tempt fate. Instead, use that extra time to put air in car tires or get to the nearest service station for professional assistance. Be sure to keep the speed at around 50 mph or less as increased speed will increase the chances of injury.
Consider checking: How To Pump Tires At Gas Station
When it comes to how long you can drive on a run flat tire, the answer is far enough to get you to safety. The typical answer is 100 miles if you follow the 50 miles per hour rule of thumb. Generally, you will only want to drive long enough to get to the aid you require.
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