Run-flat tires, also known as self supporting tires, are vehicle tires designed to resist the effects of deflation when punctured. Some can be driven on at reduced speeds, up to 55 mph, and for limited distances of up to 100 miles or even 200 miles depending on the type of tire. Run-flat tires could possibly be driven on for up to 50 miles with no air in them, a feature that has some real safety benefits.
But before you go out and buy a set, consider both the advantages and disadvantages.
If you get a flat, you can likely drive to a service station and have the tire changed rather than having to do so yourself under dangerous roadside conditions. In case of a sudden loss of tire pressure while on the freeway, handling remains near-normal. This can help avoid sudden changes in vehicle stability that can turn a tire failure into a tragic accident.
Run-flats typically cost more, weigh more, decrease ride comfort and handling somewhat, and are less readily available. Some consumers contend they also wear faster and less evenly than conventional tires.
On a new vehicle designed for such tires, run-flats are well worth considering, especially since run-flat technology is advancing rapidly.
If you don't have run-flats, check your tire pressure often. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire industry data show that 85 percent of tire failures are slow leaks, some of which go unnoticed and turn into blowouts. Keeping your tires properly inflated and fixing any slow leaks promptly can dramatically decrease your risk of a blowout or flat, in addition to improving your gas mileage.
For more on tire maintenance, take a look at our 10 Driving Tips for Saving Gas article for more ideas of how to cut down on your driving costs.