Tire Tech

Driving on Flat Run-Flat Tires

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Run-flat tires offer drivers temporary extended mobility even after a puncture allows complete air pressure loss. However, even run-flat tires will fail if driven too fast, too far or too heavily loaded when flat.

For this reason, run-flat tires may only be used on vehicles equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that alerts the driver if one or more tires have lost 25% of their recommended inflation pressure. Illumination of the TPMS warning light identifies that at least one tire is losing/has lost air and establishes the beginning of the extended mobility range the driver can carefully continue driving to escape inclement weather, unsafe surroundings or insufficient visibility, etc.

Note that a run-flat tire's endurance is dependent on operating conditions such as the flat tire's position on the vehicle, vehicle load, ambient temperature, driving speed and distance traveled. Run-flat tires cannot be driven faster than 50 miles per hour and typically offer up to 50 miles of extended mobility. Selected applications, based on vehicle and the run-flat tire design, can range from just 25 miles up to 200 miles. Consult your vehicle owner's manual to determine what you should expect.

Vehicle handling with run-flat tires at zero pressure is different than at full pressure, too. Aggressive acceleration, cornering and braking should be avoided, as well as any unusual service conditions such as carrying heavy loads or towing a trailer.

Most tire manufacturers recommend replacement of run-flat tires that have been driven after the TPMS light has illuminated. Run-flat tires driven with low or no air pressure may have experienced irreparable internal structural damage that is not visible in a non-destructive examination. While most run-flat tires offer a promise of temporary extended mobility at speeds up to 50 miles per hour, Tire Rack recommends driving the slowest safe speed below 50 miles per hour, and the shortest distance to a service facility.


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