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Angie's List: Run Flat Tires

Nobody wants the surprise of a flat tire; but could a new option in tires be the answer?

Imagine your tire blows out on the highway.

Instead of waiting for roadside assistance, you decide to change the tire yourself.

You open the trunk and surprise, no spare!

Now there are other options!

Some manufacturers are doing away with spare tires all together.

But will it make you feel any better?

"For most having a flat tire can be their worst nightmare, especially if they are caught on the road when it happens. Being prepared and knowing exactly what you've got when shopping for a car is going to be important. Don't be afraid to ask the dealer, what comes with the car? How does it work," Angie Hicks said.

Many new models are now equipped with inflator and sealant kits or run flat tires which are designed to go at slower speeds for 50 miles or more after a tire has been punctured.

"Standard low tire cannot withstand zero pressure. It has to have pressure to keep the tire inflated. A run flat tire does not need any pressure for a short duration of time until you can get to a shop that can repair or replace it," Auto Service Co-Owner Chris Cooper said.

Landon Toll used to drive a car with run flat tires.

He never suffered a flat, but he did have to replace his run flat tires which cost about a third more than traditional tires.

"I had the car for about three years and drove with 32,000 miles about and in that time I replaced the rear tires twice and the front tires once. In total, the three years I had the car I spent a little over $2,300 just in tires alone," Consumer Landon Toll said.

In addition to being more expensive, experts say run flats also result in a harder ride.

"A run flat tire will run much stiffer. You don't get much of a cushion in there. Standard low tire will run nice and quiet and a run flat tire will run a little bit stiff. It just depends on what kind of ride you are looking for," Cooper said.

"The ride was definitely stiffer with the run flat tires. Every bump that you would hit you would feel a little bit more. There were times that I would be kind of scouting ahead, looking for potholes, trying to slalom around and try to avoid them," Toll said.

Experts tell Angie's List some run flat tires can be repaired if punctured - others cannot. It depends on the manufacturer.

Run flat tires:

·         Most run flats have a stiffer ride than traditional tires.

·         Cost more than traditional tires.

·         Some run flat tires can be repaired if punctured – while others cannot. It depends on the manufacturer.

·         Run flats can be replaced with regular standard tires, but you’ll likely have to invest in a new wheel that matches your car.

·         Some cars that have run flats have a compartment for a spare tire (should you want to add one). It depends on the car manufacturer.

Angie’s List Tips:

·         Research before you buy: If you are in the market for a new vehicle, ask the salesperson if the car is equipped with a spare tire. If not, ask what your options are.

·         Buy a full-sized spare: If you find your vehicle is not equipped with a spare and you decide you want one, some tire shops offer several spare tire types. The prices vary greatly depending on the type of spare you purchase, and often start at $100 and go up. A full-size matching spare generally costs more than twice that of a compact temporary. Some donut tires can be purchased online for as low as $50, but are more expensive at a tire retailer.

·         Be prepared: You don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road. If your car has a spare, check regularly that it’s properly inflated.

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