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15 Dec 2009 | Text by Tyrepac, Photos by Siddiq Sulaiman | Category: Car Maintenance Advice

Run-flats have given us the freedom of not having to lug around that spare in the boot anymore. But how much do you really know about that run-flat fitted to your BMW?

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In recent years, run-flat tyres (RFT) have been gaining in popularity. In fact, the development of RFT has been around for some time. Nowadays, brands such as Michelin, Continental, Goodyear, Bridgestone, Dunlop, Firestone, Pirelli, Yokohama has a range of products, otherwise indicated as the RFT (Run Flat Tyre), SSR (Self Supporting Run-flat) or ZP (Zero Pressure), and so forth.

Run Flat Tyres (RFT) are also commonly known as "puncture-proof tyres," however, that tagline is a bit untrue as RFT are not entirely immune to punctures. RFT at the punctured state (low pressure or the tyre pressure of zero state) can maintain travelling speeds of up to 80km/h for up to 80km or so.

Automakers pitch run-flats as a safety feature because they let drivers avoid stopping on busy highways and other dangerous locations. They also say they like the design flexibility they get by eliminating the space-consuming spare tyre. Even though run-flats are heavier, the lack of a spare tyre can save vehicle weight overall, helping fuel efficiency. Below we analyze the structure and principle of RFT, and its advantages & disadvantages.

The main ingredient of tyre is rubber, but rubber itself is unable to cope with any load, thus the load of tyres mainly depend on layers of a reinforced fibre and steel wire.

Rubber elasticity is much lower than fibre and steel wire, thus adequate tyre pressure ensures the process of deformation of rubber tyres will be minimal.
However, if the tyre is travelling at low tyre pressure condition, the rubber will be deformed, stretching more than the strength of the fibres and elasticity limit of the steel wire. This could cause significant damage to the tyre, as the pressure will eventually destroy the interface between the different raw materials, and in more serious cases, result in tyre failure

The Advantage with Run flat tyres is that they can operate without air in them, for a relatively short distance and low speeds, as their basic shape is kept by rigid components. This rigidity helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle if the tyre loses pressure and allows the driver to continue driving, the pressurised air contained within the tyre supports the weight of the car. However, recently tyres have been developed which are able to support the weight of the car by themselves, for a short period of time. New cars are also equipped with tyre pressure monitoring devices which warn the driver of a tyre pressure loss.
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