BMW is perhaps the most popular luxury car brand out there and has a loyal fan base around the globe. One of the most unique features of BMWs is the fact that they come from the factory as standard with run-flat tires. However, these tires come with a unique set of challenges and common problems.
In this article, we will take a deep dive into the most common BMW run-flat tire issues for your understanding. Not only that, but we will give you some useful tips on how to avoid these issues in the first place.
Unimpressive durability and higher cost are some of the issues faced by BMW owners with regard to their run-flat tires. If you are planning to purchase a BMW in the future, make sure to keep these factors in your mind.
Before focusing our attention on common problems with run-flat tires, let us first learn what they are. The history of run-flat tires runs all the way back to the 1980s. However, they didn’t gain popularity until later years.
Getting a tire puncture sucks, and there are no two ways about it. Can you just imagine the annoyance of getting stranded on the side of the road because of a flat tire?
Run-flat tires look to solve this issue by letting you carry on driving even after a tire has lost all of its air. But, that is not to say that you can drive on them indefinitely, though! You are meant to carry on driving only until you reach the nearest tire repair shop.
Most run-flat tires give you a range of around 50 miles and a maximum speed of up to 50 mph. Going above that speed or range puts the tire at risk of a blowout.
Now, you might wonder how run-flat tires work. Well, there are two main technologies they utilize, which are:
- Self-supporting system
- Support ring system
The main feature of self-supporting run-flat tires is their reinforced sidewall construction. In the event of a puncture, these will support the tire and prevent it from going flat.
On the other hand, tires with a support ring system have a hard rubber structure inside. This structure can support the weight of the vehicle if the tire loses air pressure.
In addition to letting carry-on driving when the tires are flat, there are some other benefits of run-flat tires too. One of the main advantages is the increase in safety. Run-flat tires work in conjunction with the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and other safety technologies to keep you in control even during a high-speed puncture.
Run-flat tires eliminate the need to carry a spare tire and tire-changing equipment with you at all times. This allows vehicles to carry more luggage, which increases practicality and convenience. Removing the spare tire reduces the overall weight of the vehicle as well, which has a positive effect on the fuel economy.
Now that you have a better understanding of run-flat tires and their benefits, let us focus our attention on the common headaches faced by run-flat-tire-equipped BMW owners.
3 Most Common BMW Run-flat Tire Problems
Run-flat tires may seem like the best thing since sliced bread, but this is simply not the case. These tires have their own set of issues, with the most common ones being:
- Poor durability
- High cost
- Possibility of Blowouts
When it comes to run-flat tires, durability is one of the main areas of concern for every BMW owner. Sadly, this is an area where run-flat tires fall short.
As we mentioned earlier, run-flats have a special construction that allows them to retain their shape even when running low on air. However, this unique construction comes at the construction of durability. Generally, normal tires last around 6000 miles more than run-flat tires, given the fact that there is no external damage.
The main cause for the reduced tread life comes down to the choice of materials. You see, run-flats utilize softer compounds in their construction. Though this increases safety, you can’t ignore the penalty on tread life.
Run-flat tires also tend to get easily damaged. If you run over some sharp debris or hit a pothole too fast, get ready to say “bye-bye” to your BMW run-flat tire.
The privilege of being able to drive even when your tires are flat comes at a premium. We say this because no matter where you look, run-flat tires cost more than regular tires.
The increased cost is mainly due to the extra reinforcements in the run-flat tires. What’s more is that, unlike regular tires, run-flat tires cannot be repaired once they get damaged. This drives up the costs even more.
Another factor that has an impact on the cost of run-flat tires is availability. Most probably, you’ll have to look few and far between if you want to find a run-flat tire replacement.
Sometimes, you’ll even have to wait for the tires to be shipped to your location. This can take anywhere from a couple of days to over a week. All these factors come together to drive run-flat tire prices more than regular radials.
Possibility of Blowouts
Although run-flat tires provide a higher degree of safety than regular tires, they are not indestructible. While it is true that these tires hold up exceptionally well against punctures, we do not recommend driving long distances while air is escaping them.
Another factor that contributes to run-flat tire blowouts is the difficulty to gauge the amount of air inside. Wait a minute, what exactly does that mean?
Every vehicle owner is used to visually judge the air pressure of a tire. If the sidewalls are bulging, you are probably running low on air pressure.
However, it is difficult to gauge the air pressure of run-flat tires in this manner. Due to the stiffer construction, they do not show any signs of low air pressure on the outside. As you might have guessed, this can lead to dangerous situations when driving at speed.
Luckily, BMW provides a built-in solution for this problem right out of the factory. Almost all of their modern vehicles come with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). This allows drivers to keep an eye on the tire pressure from the comfort of their driving seat.
Preventive Maintenance Tips To Prolong The Life of BMW Run Flat Tires
There are several steps you can take to make BMW run-flat tires last longer. Some tips we find really useful include,
- Inflating the tires properly
- Performing regular tire rotations
- Maintaining proper wheel alignment and balance
Inflating the Tires Properly
Proper inflation is a must If you want your run-flats to last as long as possible. Under-inflated tires are the root cause of many issues, with increased braking distance, reduced fuel economy, and handling issues being two that immediately come to mind.
Similarly, overinflation reduces the lifespan of BMW run-flat tires as well. If the tires have too much air pumped into them, you are in for a bumpy ride.
We recommend you inflate the run-flat tires up to BMW’s recommended air pressure of 32 PSI. However, it is always a good idea to ensure this by either referring to the owner’s manual or by simply looking at the driver-side doorframe.
Performing Regular Tire Rotations
Tire rotations also play an important role when it comes to making run-flats last longer. Ideally, you should rotate all four tires every 5000 miles. Not only does this ensure proper wear across all four tires, but it also reduces stress on drivetrain components too.
Maintaining Proper Wheel Alignment and Balance
Just like regular tires, run-flats tires need to be correctly aligned and balanced to perform up to their maximum potential.
Tire balancing refers to the act of correcting uneven weight distribution on the wheels. This prevents excessive vibrations, suspension damage, and excessive wear. We recommend you get your tires balanced by a professional every 12,000 miles.
On the other hand, wheel alignment makes sure that the vehicle does not pull to one side of the road. Here, the work is actually done on the suspension system and not the tire itself. Proper wheel alignment gives passengers a smoother ride, while simultaneously ensuring that your run-flat tires last as long as possible.
However, make sure to replace all four tires once they reach the end of their service life.
By following these tips, you will be able to eke out the maximum performance and durability from your BMW’s unique run-flat tires.
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