Do runflats work in the Real World?

The latest runflat tyres have come a long way from the harsh, noisy and expensive tyres from 10 years ago but I can now say they got me out of trouble. 

There are plenty of drivers out there who immediately buy their favourite sticky sports tyre and ditch the runflats that come fitted from the dealer. There are some that stick with them. ¬†There are some who don’t even think about them, they just hop in, hit the Start/Stop and enjoy the drive. And for me? Well, I thought I would give them a go and see what happens. Lucky I did.

Runflats are now essential as the new MINI is often supplied without a spare tyre. It is modern technology that means in an emergency you can keep driving a short distance to get help.

Thick side walls that can support the car even when completely flat often results in a very harsh ride, as the tyres don’t flex to help absorb the bumps in the road. Often they are also made with soft tread that doesn’t last very long. You can read more about the technology from Continental here.

So these much misunderstood tyres became hated umongst owners, and in the early days who could blame them? There were much better, cheaper options available if the owner was willing to risk being stranded on the side of the road with a puncture.

Fast forward to 2016 and a unique opportunity to push them literally to destruction. With regular wheel rotations (swapping the tyres from side to side and front to rear in a regular pattern) these made it all the way to 24,000km on a 2011 MINI Clubman, still with life left.

The inevitable happened descending from Mt Mee, north of Brisbane – a pothole I couldn’t avoid. It was a good one too. Interior trim cane unclipped and flew about the cabin, and immediately something felt wrong. Two flat tyres!

Not that the car noticed – it took another 10 minutes of careful driving before the charismatic ding ding and up came the flat tyre warning, bright red in the speedometer display. I already worked it out, but appreciated the warning to remind me.

So how did this new dangled black rubber wizardry hold up? I made it home safely covering 90 stressful kilometres with visions of Nigel Mansell’s famous tyre explosion in Adelaide flashing through my mind. They had nothing left completely wearing out the shoulders, but they did their job nicely.

Time for my MINI to get a nice new set of shoes!