How to Tell if Tires are Run Flat

How to Tell if Tires are Run Flat

A run-flat tire is a special kind of tire that is constructed so that if it is punctured and the air pressure drops, it can still be driven on for a short distance. This can be very useful when you end up with a flat, as it saves you from having to change a tire on the side of the road if there’s an auto mechanic a reasonable distance away.

It’s becoming more common for new cars to come equipped with run-flat tires, but this isn’t always the case. You’ll need to know for sure what kind your vehicle has. 

Do you know how to tell if tires are run-flat? If not, don’t worry. We’re covering everything you need to know below. Keep reading to learn how to tell if tires are run flat.

Short Answer

Most of the time, these will be physically marked with some sort of indication of this status. Sometimes, it will simply say “Run Flat” right on the side of the tire. 

Three other ways to tell include: 

  • If your vehicle is still equipped with its original tires, a quick look in the owner’s manual should reveal whether the tires are run-flat or not.
  • If your vehicle has a tire pressure warning light on the dashboard, this also means that the original tires are likely run-flat.
  • If your vehicle came with a spare tire, this could signify that the original tires are not run-flat.

If Your Car Has Original Tires

If you drive a newer vehicle that still has the tires that it came with, it should be straightforward to tell if they are run-flat or not. You’ll just need to check for certain features.

Here’s how you can determine the type you have.

Feel free to check out: How Long Can You Drive On A Run Flat Tire

Consult the Manual

The easiest way to figure this out is to check the owner’s manual, which will tell you which kind of tires the vehicle came with. If your tires are indeed run-flat, the manual should include information about how they work and how to take care of them.

Consider the Make and Model

how to identify run flat tires

These have been growing in popularity since the early 21st century, so more car manufacturers include them as the default on certain models. BMW has been very proactive about this, so the original wheels are probably run-flat if you drive a BMW. 

Like Toyota and Lexus, other manufacturers will commonly use these for certain models but not for every vehicle they produce.

Check for a Spare

Whether your vehicle came with a spare tire could be an indicator of the sort of tires it has. If there is a spare tire, the tires are likely not run-flat. They are intended to save you the trouble of changing a tire on the side of the road, so this seems redundant to the manufacturer. If a tire repair kit is included with your vehicle instead of a spare tire, this could be a sign that they are run-flat.

Check the Tire Pressure Warning Light

If the dashboard of your vehicle comes equipped with a tire pressure warning light, this is a strong indicator that the car’s original tires are run-flat. These tires also use a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, which can alert the driver about low PSI. These features typically go hand in hand, so the original tires are more than likely run-flat if you see the warning light.

If Your Car Does Not Have Original Tires

how to tell if a tire is run flat

If you drive an older vehicle that has already gone through some tire replacements, you’ll have to inspect the tires themselves to see if they’re run-flat or not. Luckily, this is pretty simple.

Consider checking: How Far Can I Drive With A Flat Tire

Are The Tires Labeled “Run Flat”?

Plenty of tire manufacturers will clearly label their tires as run-flat. So if you see the words “Run Flat” on the side of your tires, you can be sure they are run-flat. Pretty simple, right?

Check for Other Indicators

Other manufacturers will use certain acronyms or codes to indicate that the tires are run-flat, but it might not seem obvious to the average layperson. If you see the following letters on the side, they are run-flat: 

  • RFT
  • SSR
  • DSST
  • ROF
  • EMT
  • ZP
  • ZPS


The most direct solution is to search the physical tires for one of the standard codes or the words “Run Flat.” Other markings to look out for are RFT, SSR, DSST, ROF, EMT, ZP, or ZPS. These are brand-specific acronyms that all signal that the tire is run-flat.

If you’re still unsure how to tell if tires are run flat, contact an auto mechanic for a second opinion.

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