Run Flat Tyre Repairs. Will they repair them and is it safe?

We take a look at the current situation with reparing Run Flat tyres

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Update: July 2013

Many tyre fitters are still saying they can't repair run flats, despite statements from manufacturers to the contrary.

The real problem seems to be liability. Tyre fitters are not willing to say that a tyre is safe to drive after it's been driven at zero pressure. That and the incentive to supply you with a new tyre for £300+.

Our advice is to change your runflats for conventional tyres, see our guide to changing runflat to conventional tyres here.

Update: Feb 2013

Since we wrote this report, it appears that things have improved with regard to run flat tyre repairs. Both Bridgestone and Michelin have stated that their RFT's can be repaired if the tyre has not been damaged. This is no different to a standard tyre.

Here are links for both Bridgestone and Michelin, where they make a statement about RFT repairs.

Quoting Bridgestone - 'Preconditions include a puncture of less than 6mm for both side-reinforced type and support-ring type Run-Flat tires, plus minimal damage to the support ring in case of the latter'.

Armed with this information, motorists should have no problem convincing a tyre fitter to repair their run flat puncture. A problem you have now is finding a place that is equipped to do the job.

ATS Euromaster is one place that should have the equipment to do this repair. Please read the following statement first though -
'The run flat repair process involves checking with the customer to ascertain how long the tyre has been in a deflated condition - if it has driven over 50 miles, or exceeded 50mph, then it cannot be repaired.'

BMW and the like give you around a 100 mile range on a zero pressure tyre at 50mph, but don't expect to get it repaired if you go too fast or do over 100 miles. They will check for heat build up inside the tyre. A tyre run too fast or too long may show balls of rubber building up on the inside.

Bridgestone Potenza RE050A - BMW Fitment
Bridgestone Potenza RE050A - BMW Fitment
Price range from £170 - £330 |  View Prices

If you buy a brand new BMW or Audi the salesman might have used the Run Flat Tyres (RFT) as a selling point. It has to be said that there are many benefits in running a car on run flat tyres. What they won't tell you is that if you have a small puncture, instead of a £15 or £20 repair bill you could be looking at a bill for £200 to £300 to buy a new tyre. The fact is that in the UK at least tyre fitters will not repair a run flat tyre. What makes things worse is if you suffered a puncture with a conventional tyre that could not be repaired the bill could be less than half that at £100. So you're paying almost twice as much for the RFT and if you happen to run over the tiniest of nails you'll need to buy a whole new tyre.

Why can't Run Flat Tyres be repaired?

The reason behind this, (given by the tyre manufacturers) is to do with the thickness of the RFT sidewalls. With a conventional tyre when a technician carries out a puncture repair, one of the first things they will do is to check the tyre for damage, especially damage to the sidewall. This damage is easy to spot as it shows up as creases in the sidewall when the tyre is deflated. With the RFT it is impossible to say for sure if the sidewall has been damaged as the sidewall is so much thicker. Therefore they have no option but to replace the tyre.

What about a slow punctures?

The damage to the sidewall could occur if you continued to drive on the flat tyre for more than the recommended distance (approx. 100 miles) or over the maximum speed of 50 mph. However what if you'd not driven the tyre at zero pressure, what if the car had been sat on your driveway for a few days and happened to deflate as a result of a slow puncture. Surely this tyre would be repairable? Despite there being no damage to the sidewall you won't find anyone that will repair this RFT tyre, the fact is they only have your word that the tyre had not been driven on at zero pressure and they could run into liability problems if the repaired tyre failed.

Verdict

So are Run Flat Tyres safe to repair? In theory yes they are, as long as they are not driven on. However as cars running on RFT don't have a spare wheel, unless the tyre went down whilst the vehicle was parked, this would be impractical. In practice you won't find anyone that will repair a RFT because both legally and financially it doesn't make sense for tyre centers to repair Run Flat Tyres.

So what about the future, will tyre manufacturers create a machine to check Run Flat Tyres for damage before repair? I wouldn't hold your breath on that one! The best thing you can do to save some money at least, is to avoid buying from your local tyre center and buy cheap tyres online.

Read this article to see the pros and cons of changing run flat tyres to conventional tyres

Article Keywords: Run Flat Tyre Repair, Where to repair run flat tyres on BMW

 
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