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Are Run-Flat Tires Noisy?

Run Flat tire cutaway.

Run-flat tires (RFTs) have a reinforced design that allows them to rotate even when the air pressure is low. However, Run-flat tires do have trade-offs, including noise.

Run-flat tires are noisier than their conventional counterparts. This is because their sidewalls are heavily reinforced. Hence they tend to create and transfer slightly louder road noise into your car's cabin.

The slightly thicker design of run-flat tires makes your ride more bumpy than usual. Let's look at some important aspects of run-flat tires.

Table Of Contents [show]

    Run Flat tire cutaway.
    Run Flat tire cutaway.

    What Does a Run-Flat Sound Like?

    A run flat produces road noise similar to that of a regular tire. But with their reinforced sidewalls, the sound they produce, combined with the vibration from the chassis, may sound loud when heard from inside the cabin.

    Run-flat tires have thick sidewalls lined with rigid rubber inserts. This design feature helps them support the vehicle's weight even when their air pressure is low.

    When it is full of air, the thick material gives less while moving on the road and emits a humming noise similar to a new regular tire, only a bit louder.

    What Are The Disadvantages Of Run-Flat Tires?

    The disadvantages of run-flat tires include the following:

    • Noisy rides.
    • Diminished ride quality.
    • Premium price.
    • Less shelf availability.
    • Accelerated tread wear.
    • Difficulty in judging air pressure.

    There are many disadvantages of run-flat tires.

    Noise

    Because of their stiff and thicker material, RFTs tend to be noisier than their conventional counterparts. The noise is especially noticeable when you are driving over a rough path.

    Harsh Ride

    The stiffness of the material makes run-flat tires less giving. So, your ride becomes quite rough and harsh as the tires bounce up and down over each small bump.

    Higher Cost

    In comparison with standard tires, a run-flat tire tends to cost more. The price difference starts at $150 and can go up to $500 for each tire.

    It all depends upon the size and type of the RFT. The bigger its size, the costlier the run-flat tire will be.

    Hard to Diagnose

    With a conventional tire, you can easily guess that the air pressure is low when it appears deflated. The same does not hold for RFTs. You must check the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) or use a tire gauge to learn about their air pressure.

    Limited Availability

    Run-flat tires are only available in limited sizes and tread designs. Not every tire shop stocks these.

    Frequent Replacement

    When your run-flat tire punctures, there is little to no chance of repairing it. You'll have to replace the punctured RFT with a new one.

    Their tread also wears more quickly, so you'll find yourself replacing these tires more often than the standard ones.

    A thick walled run flat tire.
    A thick walled run flat tire.

    Do Run-Flat Tires Have A Rougher Ride?

    Yes, run-flat tires have a rougher ride. They are stiff and tend to pound harder when driven over bumps and cracks, resulting in diminished ride quality.

    The sidewalls of conventional tires measure about ⅛ inch. On the other hand, a run-flat tire has thicker ¾ inch sidewalls, making it stiffer and less conforming.

    Where conventional tires adapt themselves to absorb the impact of a bump, RFT tires harshly pound over them, resulting in a harsher ride.

    How Long Do Run Flats Last?

    If cared for and maintained correctly, run flats can last 3 to 5 years. However, once an RFT is punctured, you may be able to drive with it up to 50 miles at 50 mph speed.

    Different brands differ in the number of years that their run-flat tires last. Generally, an RFT is expected to last for 3 to 5 years if properly taken care of.

    Here are some tips to extend its lifespan:

    • Never mix run-flat tires with regular ones, as both have different characteristics.
    • Keeping them inflated at the correct air pressure prolongs run-flats life.
    • Keep them inflated, even when storing them for the season.
    • Clean them thoroughly before storage.
    • Once an RFT gets punctured, reduce your driving speed. Now refer to your driver's guide to determine how far you can safely drive and at what speed.

    Do Run Flat Tires Wear Out Faster?

    Yes, run flats tend to wear out faster than most conventional tires. This may be because these tires are designed with a softer tread compound that counterbalances the rough ride but wears out quickly.

    The tread compound put on run-flat tires is a combination of silica and special rubber polymers. The compound makes the tread more pliable to cushion the road impact. But also causes these tires to wear out more quickly.

    Conclusion

    Many manufacturers have started equipping their cars with run flats to reduce load, maximize cargo space, and improve fuel efficiency. However, before committing to a set, you should carefully weigh its benefits and shortcomings.

    These tires are designed with reinforced sidewalls that hold the vehicle's weight even when the air pressure is low.

    Yet, RFTs are noisier and costlier and provide a rough riding experience.

    If your run-flat tire becomes punctured, you can safely drive it up to 50 miles at a slow speed to reach a repair shop or any other safe destination.