Car Care

Is this the end of annoying punctures?

Nobody wants to find themselves stuck on the side of the road, broken down, all because of a flat tyre. Punctures often happen at the most inconvenient times, but manufacturers are now trying to eliminate this frustration.

Here are some clever solutions available in the New Zealand market.

Run flat tyres

First appearing in the eighties, run flat tyres (RFT) are general-use tyres that have been specially developed with reinforced sidewalls or internal supporting rings to maintain composure even when flat. This means that they will continue to support the vehicle’s weight by maintaining some of its shape, even if the tyre has experienced a complete loss of air pressure.

RFT can be placed on any rim, but it is recommended that they be fitted to rims designed for these tyres to prevent the tyre bead unseating. A tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) or pressure warning system must be used to inform the driver if a tyre does lose pressure.

They are also commonly used by European vehicle manufacturers, and you can buy these tyres from a variety of manufacturers including Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop, Goodyear and Pirelli.

All run flat tyre solutions prevent the punctured tyre from adversely affecting the braking, acceleration and steering of your car. They usually allow you to keep travelling a distance up to 80km at a max speed of 80km/h, which should allow you to get a place of safety or repair.

Repair in a can

If you don’t want the hassle of changing your tyre, you can invest in a can of tyre sealer which inflates and temporarily seals the punctured tyre to help get you to the nearest practical place for repair.

Tyre inflator/sealer is a product, similarly to run flats, and it’s designed to offer a temporary repair to allow you to get to a place where the tyre can be taken in for a more permanent repair or a replacement where necessary.

Approximately one in 10 callouts for the AA Roadservice team are tyre-related, and they currently offer a non-toxic tyre sealant product as a temporary repair to assist those who have experienced a puncture but have either an unusable tyre or no spare tyre at all.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using this method and never put the sealant inside tyres to avoid potential punctures – it’s only meant as a temporary and preventative repair in the event that a puncture actually happens, and misuse could cause damage.

Airless tyres

Michelin unveiled their ‘Tweel System’ back in 2005, and it was originally designed for use on small vehicles such as ride-on lawn mowers and motorized golf carts. They were also used on heavy equipment at hazardous sites where the risk of tyre punctures is high.

Michelin is working with General Motors on a tyre called the Unique Puncture-proof Tire System (UPTIS), and aim for these to be ready for production by 2024. Real-world testing of their UPTIS prototypes is set to be on a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs. Other large tyre companies like Bridgestone are also working on this developing tyre technology.

According to a global study from Michelin, about 12 percent of tyres on the road are scrapped prematurely due to blowouts, and about eight percent are discarded due to irregular wear because of inflation issues - this equates to a total of 200 million tyres scrapped annually for early replacement.

These tyres have many benefits for the motorist and the environment. The tyres use fewer raw materials as well as less energy in their production, and reduce the number of scrapped tyres as a result of unexpected puncture. As UPTIS tyres don’t lose pressure overtime, it stops irregular wear issues from over or under inflation, can improve fuel efficiency, lower emissions and removes the danger of one of your tyres blowing out on the road.

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