The Benefits Of Run-Flat Tires Far Outweigh Their Expense.


I have been giving this some thought lately as our Mini Cooper has had to have 3 run-flat tires replaced in the past 20 months. Why? Well, the first one was because I did not know you could actually patch run-flats…the dealer said no and proceeded to put a new on on the car after a tiny nail made the “YOUR TIRE IS FLAT” warning light go off. The second and third one was because A. one had a blow-out and B. they wearing really funny because the alignment was off. So we replaced the two back ones. Now we are back to having 4 fully functional, almost new tires on the Mini. But the reason I wanted to write this article was because of a conversation I had with the guy at my local tire shop.

Discussing these run-flats and replacing two of them was going to be an expensive endeavor. They were about $250 a piece…not cheap by any means. Tires this size should be about $120-$150 each if they were not run-flats…but the Mini came with run-flats so that is what we were using. But I had read somewhere that you could use regular tires and eliminate the run-flats from the equation altogether, and I figured maybe we should do that because even 4 brand new non run-flats would cost me less than 2 run-flats. But here is where the guy at the tire shop stepped in and told me something I had not thought about…and not because he wanted to sell me more expensive tires.

See, the Mini was my car…until I started working from home and no longer needed a car. So we sold my wife’s Toyota and she took the Mini. Quite a trade up! I lost my favorite car of all time but she gained a really nice ride to work. If the Mini was still mine, I probably would have gone with non run-flats…after all, if I had a flat tire somewhere, I could just pull over and change it. No biggie, I have been doing that since I was 16. But my wife…that’s where the tire guy stepped in. He told me to think about her having a blow out on the freeway or in some bad neighborhood and having to deal with the flat by herself. Without hesitating, I said “Put on new run-flats”…no questions asked. Cost was not a factor…having these tires on the car would enable my wife to continue driving even if she got a flat. They go up to 50 MPH for over 50 miles, which is definitely far enough to get her home in any case.

Sometimes piece of mind is worth the price of admission. I have to admit the run-flats ride a little harder than “regular” tires, but knowing that she can get home from anywhere with no problems is worth a little suffering. Even with the blow out she had on the freeway, she was able to continue driving for 10 minutes – enough time to get off the freeway and into a church parking lot where she could deal with the problem.

Honestly, I don’t think I will ever put anything but run-flat tires on her cars in the future…safety is way more important than keeping a few hundred bucks in the bank account.

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Comments (21)

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  1. Punny Money says:

    As a fellow MINI owner, I frequent many online discussion forums for MINIs, and I’ve read too many cases of run-flats failing to live up to their name. Yes, run-flats are nice for when you hit a nail, but every nailed conventional tire I’ve ever had was still patchable when I drove to a nearby service station.

    What about the cases where you have a major blow-out and the tire falls apart? Most run-flat owners I know don’t have a spare. So you go from being able to swap a spare to needing a tow.

    For minor, slow-leak flats, you’ll have plenty of time to drive out of the bad neighborhood. For major, tire-destroying blowouts, run-flats aren’t going to save you and could strand you even longer if you don’t have a spare.

    To me, they definitely weren’t worth the price, especially since I just put four new, highly-rated tires on my MINI for $200 total.

    And as you’re experiencing, run-flats that fit MINIs tend to be crappy tires that flatten easier than conventional tires. The next time one dies, I’d definitely recommend swapping all four for some cheap but reliable Kumhos. It’ll be cheaper than the cost of just replacing that single run-flat.

  2. david says:

    Thanks Punny. A few things though:

    1. We have a spare, its under the rear of the car. I didn’t know we had it until my dealer pointed it out. You sure you don’t have one?

    2. My wife had that major blowout on the freeway. And the tire still allowed her to get off the road, it stayed strong enough to get over.

    3. The point of the post was that I don’t mind spending the money, as it is for my wife’s safety and my piece of mind. Money is irrelevant when it comes to this kind of stuff, at least for me.

    4. I hate these tires too and if it was my car, I would have high performance regular tires on it. But it’s not mine and she doesn’t care about that stuff…I just want her to be safe.

  3. KMC says:

    I think you fell for the classic marketing trap hook, line, and sinker.

    “You want only the best for your wife/kid/mother, right?” Of course you do; everyone does.

    Think about this, though. There are two pieces to every risk – likelihood and severity. How likely is it that your wife will have a tire problem where she can’t get to someplace safe and/or use her cell phone to call you? And how serious are most tire ‘incidents?’ Not very – tire places patch tires every day but not many people die from blowouts.

    It’s easy for the salesman to bring to mind the image of your wife standing beside her stranded car in a bad neighborhood at night. He’s banking on you thinking “Money is irrelevant when it comes to this kind of stuff.”

    Hey, this is how you want to spend your money, and that’s cool. You’ve already admitted what you’re really paying for is your “piece of mind.”

  4. david says:

    Nope, didn’t fall for anything. Of course he wants to make more money, but he also makes a valid point. I live in LA…one of the (if not THE) most dangerous cities in the country while on the road. So really, knowing she will be OK to get off the freeway (which don’t have breakdown lanes, either) is fantastic.

    And truly, like I said…money is irrelevant when it comes to any safety issue, at least for us. Thanks for the comment though!

  5. Are tire problems all that likely? I am not trying to be annoying, just wondering?

    In the Philadelphia area with just normal inflation and replacement schedules, I don’t think my wife or I have had a but two tire problems in the last ten years. Once my wife ran over a 2×4 that caused a slow leak, which was easily patched at the local gas station days later. Just recently I punctured the side wall on a protruding sewer grate. Used the donut a day or two.

    What was your blowout from?

  6. david says:

    In LA, everyone I know has several flats a year..it’s an ugly city to drive in!

  7. Pinyo says:

    I like the perspective of not judging everything by it’s dollar value — in this case the additional insurance the tires offer. I have never used one myself, but would definitely consider it if my wife start driving places by herself.

  8. Debbie says:

    My first thought was that you could teach your wife how to change a tire. That costs less. (Hint: if she is too weak to loosen the lug nuts, she can try stomping on the lug wrench or carefully stepping up onto it or perhaps jumping on it like I have to. She could also leave an old pair of sneakers in the car in case she is driving in heels when she gets a flat tire.)

    But when you said your area is dangerous, my second thought is that your own safety is just as important as your wife’s. (Well, maybe you are stronger, look less like a victim, have more calming social skills, are more observant, have more self-defense skills and know how to use your concealed weapon, which you always carry while changing tires, so you’re much more likely to be fine in dangerous areas.)

  9. david says:

    My wife knows how to change a tire…there is no problem there. The problem is LA…on the freeway, there is no breakdown lane and nowhere to go if there is a problem. Knowing she can get off the freeway with a flat or a blowout sets me at ease, even if it had cost more.

    I don’t drive (I work from home) and only use the car on weekends occasionally. Most of the time I walk everywhere. With my concealed weapon.

  10. Clever Dude says:

    We just bought a MINI (used), which you probably read already. It has run-flats, and I got an extended warranty on the tires and wheels. Sure, I probably paid too much on the tire warranty, and yes I could have gotten 2 sets of brand new regular tires for that price, but oh well. At the time, I just figured I would keep the run-flats if I had to replace them, rather than switching to regular tires.

    Perhaps I can get a refund on the warranty?

  11. david says:

    Since you already bought the warranty, just be sure to get some flats 😉

  12. […] Two Dollars talked about run-flat tires and said the benefits far outweigh the costs. If my car has those, I probably won’t consider […]

  13. Clever Dude says:

    Ah, I looked at the contract and saw I can get a refund within 30 days (it’s only been 2 weeks). If 30-60 days, then I have to pay a $25 fee.

    Looks like I’m making a trip to the dealer tomorrow.

  14. david says:

    How much, dare I ask..you don’t have to leave it here, but just so you know, the run flats on the Mini (16in) are about $250 a piece installed…

  15. Tim says:

    I second that you fell for the classic salesman pitch. get a can of self-seal.

  16. david says:

    OK, just so everyone knows…I appreciate your comments. BUT I did not fall for anything; the guy made a good point – that’s all. I did not have to buy the tires, I chose to buy the tires for the sake of my wife’s safety. I never imagined people would have such negative things to say about spending money to make sure my wife was OK on the freeway! 🙂

    And Tim – Good luck using self seal on a freeway in Los Angeles. You would be dead and run-over before you even cracked the can out there.

  17. Tim says:

    I’ve been on LA freeways a lot and don’t get the big deal. I’ve also shredded lots of tires because of the crappy roads in LA (5 tires within one year, all sidewall pinches so no patching).

    for her safety, you could get an armored car, move to a different location, hand gun, etc., etc. Ok, granted that you want her to be safe, and there is nothing wrong with that and paying extra for it; however, the salesman got you to buy right away using a classic pitch (you weren’t in the market to buy, you hadn’t done your research on runflats nor did you price runflats), which means you fell for his salesmanship. I’m surprised he didn’t try to sell you lojack for the car either. There is nothing wrong with your reason, just admit that you fell for the salesman’s classic pitch and we all can move on.

  18. david says:

    A. I was in the market to buy…we needed new tires.

    B. I already knew how much they cost, we had replaced one before.

    We can all move on Tim…I am guessing though that if I had left out the line about the tire guy, then no one would have anything to talk about.

  19. […] My Two Dollars: The Benefit of Run-Flat Tires Far Outweigh Their Expense […]

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  21. Dory says:

    I agree! The price is sometimes worth the admission. When reflecting on my monthly bills, someone asked me if I really needed a cell phone.

    I explained to them that yes, I did. I was a single girl in the city and the fact that I can get laid up with a flat or some other emergency freaks me out. I’m willing to pay the $35 it is to keep my phone going.

    Peace of mind. Whew.