Anyone who has suffered a burst tyre knows that it can be at worse, a frightening experience which may result in an accident, and at best a great inconvenience, so it may be surprising to learn that an increasing number of cars come without a spare.
In an age where fuel consumption is a buzz word among motorists desperate to save money, manufacturers are leaving out spare tyres to lighten the load.
Tim Shallcross of the Institute of Advanced Motorists explained in an interview with Autoblog, that car manufacturers are attempting to offset the increasing weight of modern vehicles.
"Safety equipment such as airbags and anti-lock brakes, along with our demand for extras such as air conditioning, have actually increased vehicle weights over the past few decades, so among other weight saving measures, most manufacturers have tried to reduce the weight of the spare wheel or eliminate it altogether", he said.
Many manufacturers are getting around the problem by selling their vehicles with run-flat tyres.
They work by supporting the weight of the car even when the tyre has been damaged.
However, if a run-flat tyre is damaged it needs to be replaced.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) explains that while they offer "a better level of safety than conventional tyres if they have a puncture … they should be treated with care so as not to lose this benefit".
Run-flat tyres can operate without air in them as they maintain their shape thanks to the rigid components they are made from.
They are strengthened using either a reinforced sidewall or an internal support ring, which enable the driver to continue his journey without the need to immediately replace the tyre.
According to RoSPA, drivers must not travel for long distances or at high speed if their run-flat tyre has been punctured.
Run-flat tyres have a maximum speed and distance at which it is safe to drive them once they have been damaged and it is the driver's responsibility to check what this is.
The AA states that deflated run-flat tyres "should be capable of at least 50 miles (range can vary with vehicle load) at speeds up to 50 mph".
Sometimes it isn't possible to feel that a run-flat tyre has been deflated, so drivers needs to know how a car's Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) will communicate a loss of pressure.
Even when drivers have a TPMS, it is important that they check their tyre pressure on a regular basis and ensure that it conforms to the manufacturer's recommended levels.
Following a puncture on a run-flat tyre, it is important to check whether the TPMS needs to be reset. Drivers should consult their handbook, or check with their garage, if this is the case.
In addition, the AA recommends that motorists who have run-flat tyres should ensure that any new ones are the same as the existing make.
Drivers should also carry out visual checks for tyre damage, or take them to a garage which will perform safety checks.
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Posted by Danielle Barge