Runflat tyres in detail – everything you need to know

Runflat tyres have been on the market for decades, historically they have been especially famous on BMW cars, but they have gradually made their way into other brands as well. For example, Pirelli runflats have been on the market for 20 years and the original development was specialized for rally racing where a puncture means a delay of several minutes, which is crucial to winning the race. Their main advantage, even for the daily driver, is the possibility of reaching the destination of a journey at a limited speed even in the event of a puncture. The possibility of driving in the event of a puncture is due to the reinforced carcass of the tyre, which holds its shape even in the event of a loss of air pressure. 

Manufacturers benefit from their use because they maximize the interior space of the car. Thanks to the runflat tyres, they don’t have to prepare space for a spare wheel or glue kit, so there is more room in the boot for luggage. This is particularly important for BMW and other sporty cars, as they typically have less interior space due to the emphasis on handling and the subordinate weight distribution and body shape. 

Run-flats have their obvious advantages for the driver as well – a sudden loss of tyre pressure can lead to a dangerous situation on the road, and even repairing a puncture on the motorway in traffic is very dangerous. With run-flats you can always drive to the workshop, so it is very convenient to use them. But let’s take a look at what the main advantages and disadvantages are, apart from comfort. 


  • Possibility to continue driving in the event of a puncture
  • A sudden loss of pressure will not dramatically affect the car’s handling
  • No need to carry a spare – more space in the car


  • Higher price
  • Smaller selection of models
  • Difficult to repair
  • Comfort and noise (on some models)

How far can I drive with a runflat tyre in the event of a puncture?

With most runflat tyres it is possible to travel 80 km at speeds up to 80 km/h, which should always be enough to get to the nearest workshop. Another advantage is that the tyre does not deform in the event of a sudden loss of pressure and therefore does not immediately lose traction, which makes it a safer solution than conventional tyres. As we said above, a big motivation for using runflat tyres is also the possibility of running the car without a bulky spare and therefore increasing the usable space of the car. 

Price and running costs are among the main disadvantages of runflat tyres

Like any solution, runflats have their drawbacks. In the past, these included reduced comfort and noise, but nowadays, for reputable brands, it’s more about running costs, as our table below shows. Aside from the higher purchase price found on 98% of runflat tyres on offer, you also need to take into account that runflats are not recommended for repair when driven without air and therefore need to be replaced when a puncture occurs to maintain its integrity. 

Runflat tyre manufacturers

Not every brand offers runflat tyres because they are relatively expensive to develop. The following table shows how many different models and sizes a manufacturer offers:

manufacturerNumber of runflat models


Marking: RFT, Run Flat

can be repaired: No

Pirelli is the largest manufacturer of runflat tyres on the European market, which is certainly due to their frequent use as first equipment on many BMWs. Pirelli therefore boasts a long tradition and development, and its tyres are therefore of similar quality to their non-runflat variants, as the following table will show:

qualitytested tyresrunflat is the samerunflat is betterrunflat is worse% of worse
fuel consumption200104346231
wet handling200143263115.5
Total score (lower is better)258

Analysis of Pirelli runflat models available on the EU market – we compared Pirelli runflat tyres with their non-runflat variants in the same size (where available). Fuel consumption, wet grip and noise are available on the EU labels of the tyres in question. 

As is clear from the table above, the only place where the qualities of non-runflat tyres cannot be matched is in weight – extra material in the tyre is needed to ensure mobility even when pressure is lost, and the weight simply cannot be missed. Of course, this can also have an effect on fuel consumption, although this is not universally true – only a third of Pirelli’s runflat tyres are more fuel efficient. Pirelli runflat tyres can handle everything else virtually as well or better than their non-runflat variants. There are, of course, variants that do worse – but to be fair, these tend to be mostly older models. 


Marking: SSR, CSR

can be repaired: Yes, if it has not been operated without inflation

qualitytested tyresrunflat is the samerunflat is betterrunflat is worse% of worse
Fuel consumption11043125550
Wet handling11062123633
Total score (lower is better)283

For table agenda see Pirelli above.

Continental manages to produce runflats that are at least as noisy as their non-runflat counterparts, or even less noisy tyres. Where Continental’s runflats fall short, however, is in consumption – which is higher in 50% of cases. 


Marking: RFT, DriveGuard

It can be repaired: Yes, subject to condition of the tyre

qualitytested tyresrunflat is the samerunflat is betterrunflat is worse% of worse
fuel consumption10757193129
wet handling10762103533
Total score (lower is better)265

For table agenda see Pirelli above.

Bridgestone runflat tyres also perform very well – particularly surprising in the noise area, where they often outperform their non-runflat counterparts. Compared to Pirelli, wet grip is worse in up to a third of the models on offer. 


Marking: ROF

It can be repaired: Yes, subject to condition of the tyre

qualitytested tyresrunflat is the samerunflat is betterrunflat is worse% of worse
fuel consumption5417122546
wet handling543181528
Total score (lower is better)300

For table agenda see Pirelli above.

For Goodyear runflats, it’s quite interesting that 41% of them have higher noise and 46% higher consumption than their non-runflat variants. In general, they score relatively poorly on the overall score – only the Nokians are worse.

source: goodyear


Marking: ZP

can be repaired: Yes, just like normal tyres

qualitytested tyresrunflat is the samerunflat is betterrunflat is worse% of worse
fuel consumption391616718
wet handling39221525
Total score (lower is better)223

For table agenda see Pirelli above.

Michelin’s runflat tyres prove the overall quality of the brand – most Michelin models are already quite good at low fuel consumption, but the French manufacturer manages to keep it up with its runflat tyres, which is a good achievement compared to the competition. It’s a similar story when it comes to wet grip, with just 5% of variants performing worse than non-runflat variants. 


Marking: HRS

It can be repaired: Yes, subject to condition of the tyre

qualitytested tyresrunflat is the samerunflat is betterrunflat is worse% of worse
fuel consumption1959526
wet handling1976632
Total score (lower is better)290

For table agenda see Pirelli above.

Hankook is often the brand that customers choose when they want to save money over premium tyres while maintaining the comfort of runflat tyres. One interesting piece of information is that Hankook runflats often have better fuel economy and noise performance. However, it is often very model dependent – often the reverse can also be the case. 


Markup: RunFLAT

can be repaired: Yes, if it has not been operated without inflation

qualitytested tyresrunflat is the samerunflat is betterrunflat is worse% of worse
fuel consumption460046100
wet handling4641149
Total score (lower is better)316

For table agenda see Pirelli above.

The last brand compared is Nokian, where the data is quite clear – all models have worse fuel consumption compared to the non-runoff variants, but they do not suffer from higher noise levels or worse wet grip.

Ride comfort – switching to nun-runflats may help

While we covered most of the data that is publicly available, there is one aspect needed to be taken into consideration – ride comfort. The tyre construction is more durable, which also means it deforms less on the bumps and makes the ride harder. While this is something that has been taken into account when the car was developed, switching to non-runflats may help when your car feels too stiff when going over obstacles.

Runflat tyre test

On the basis of the characteristics analysed in the previous chapter, we have compiled a simple table analysing the quality of each runflat tyre manufacturer and comparing their quality with non-runflat variants. In particular, we looked at what percentage of runflat tyres are worse than their non-runflat counterparts. We did not take into account the fact that some runflats are even better than non-runflats, but this is generally consistent with the overall ranking. The qualities of the Bridgestone and Michelin tyres need to be highlighted here, most of which are better than the non-runflat variants with regard to noise.


Comparison of runflat tyre properties with conventional tyres

From the above tables it can be deduced that it is practically common for runflat tyres to have a higher weight due to the weight of the self-supporting tyre structure. Higher weight obviously means higher rolling resistance, which has a slightly negative effect on the fuel consumption of the car. Apart from that, however, we don’t find that much difference in the tyres; the often mentioned higher noise level was not demonstrated in our data. Looking at an older ADAC runflat comparison test of Bridgestone tyres from 2014 (which is unfortunately no longer available online), we find the following findings:

“The two tested models of the latest generation run-flat tyres (summer and winter) are still noticeably harder than the ‘standard tyres’, but the difference is within the range of differences common in tyre testing. In terms of comfort, the summer run-flat tyre tested for BMW is hardly different from its conventional brother. Rolling resistance is similarly good; the latest-generation run-flat tyres hardly increase fuel consumption.”

“The fact that, despite the optimized tread, they do not perform as well as conventional tyres in reality is mainly due to the higher weight of runflat tyres – approximately 0.3 kg per tyre. Therefore, slightly more energy is required for each acceleration process. “

“There is only a slight difference in handling on wet, dry and snowy/frozen roads (for winter tyres). Runflat tyres have no significant disadvantages here.”

How to recognise a runflat tyre?

You can recognise a runflat tyre by the markings on the sidewall – most often this will say runflat or one of the abbreviations used by the manufacturer – see above. There is no standardized symbol for a range tyre apart from the ‘run flat’ sign. 

Can a runflat tyre be repaired?

In general, the prevailing opinion among the professional community is that runflat tyres cannot be repaired because their integrity is at risk. However, Goodyear, for example, informs on its website that its runflat tyres can be repaired by a professional repairer under certain circumstances, unless the following conditions are met:

  • Repairs outside the tread area (shoulders)
  • If the sidewall area is damaged inside or outside the tyre by a sharp object that could cut the liner – significantly reducing the range and life of the tyre.
  • Tyres that have travelled a considerable distance at low or zero pressure
  • Damage to the internal load-bearing structure
  • Any other damage that would make it impossible to repair a standard tyre.

If we look at other manufacturers, Michelin informs on its website that runflats can be repaired just like normal tyres. Under certain circumstances, even Continental allows runflat repair, which states on its website: ‘it is only possible if it has been thoroughly checked by a qualified professional. Continental recommends that SSR or runflat tyres should not be repaired if there is any indication that the tyre has been run in an under-inflated condition. Bridgestone also admits runflat repairs on its website – ‘Some punctures can be repaired under certain restrictions and prescribed procedures’.

Generally speaking, if you want to maintain the possibility of repairing a runflat tyre, you should never run it completely flat and therefore, in the event of a loss of pressure, take it to the nearest workshop immediately or inflate it during the journey to the workshop. However, for larger punctures, you can’t avoid driving completely without pressure anyway so replacement would be needed. 

Alternatives to runflat tyres

Michelin PAX

The Michelin PAX is a runflat system that relies on a special rim design – so it cannot simply be replaced with conventional tyres, making it an expensive and difficult to maintain solution. In addition to luxury cars (Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce Phantom), it could be found on the Renault Scénic or Audi A4. However, due to its non-universality and high costs for both customers and garages, this system is no longer used. 

Self-sealing technology (Contiseal, Pirelli Seal-Inside)

As the name suggests, Contiseal is a technology from Continental. Instead of a reinforced construction similar to conventional treadflats, it relies on a layer of self-sealing adhesive placed underneath the tread to seal the hole and allow you to continue riding in the event of a puncture. The main difference is that while a runflat can be driven even in the event of a complete loss of pressure, e.g. in the event of a puncture, Self-sealing can only heal smaller punctures up to 4 mm in the tread area (even when a foreign object is pulled out) and it is not possible to continue riding in the event of a loss of pressure. However, a tyre with Contiseal technology should also have identical handling characteristics due to its identical construction to a normal tyre, which is not always the case with runflats. 

Which car manufacturers use run-flat tyres?

In addition to BMW, runflat tyres can also be found on Audi, Alfa Romeo, Jeep, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce, and in the USA on Cadillac sedans. Volkswagen also offers self-sealing tyres on some of its models – notably the Arteon and Tiguan. Run-flats are also being considered on electric cars that have no room for a spare because of the battery. Pirelli has developed a special Pirelli Elect technology for electric cars in the runflat tyre range, which provides low rolling resistance, lower noise and better grip, developed specifically for cars equipped with a heavy battery. 


The Bavarian carmaker started with runflats in 2003, when the new 5-series model (E60)  began to be rolled out on them. Since then, runflats have been found on almost all of the carmaker’s models – the exception being lower trims with transverse engine models, such as the new 1 Series (F40) or the Active Tourer. The other exception is the M division models. There, the higher weight of the tyres certainly plays a role, which is not desirable on sports cars. Tyres specifically designed for BMW are marked with the * symbol.

Conclusion – runflat tyres – yes or no?

In particular, runflat tyres offer more safety than traditional tyres because they eliminate the dangerous situations that can be associated with a puncture. Also, modern cars have bigger and bigger wheels and therefore changing them at the roadside is not a pleasant experience, all this is eliminated by runflats because you can always drive to the tyre shop with them no matter what happened. The spare wheel also needs to be kept in usable condition, which is an extra worry. In short, the comfort associated with run-flats is a major advantage. A side effect is also more interior space inside the car, as you don’t need a spare and a hever, nor a glue kit. The main disadvantage is the price.