BMW Group is leading promoter of run-flat tires

Others | September 1st, 2010 by 23
BMW RUn flat tyres 750x500

In the past years, across the entire car industry we have seen an increase in the number of vehicles equipped with run-flat tires as a safety …

In the past years, across the entire car industry we have seen an increase in the number of vehicles equipped with run-flat tires as a safety system. BMW, MINI, Lexus, Audi or Chevrolet have all started to adopt these systems with one goal in mind – vehicle safety.

According to BMW, thanks to specially reinforced side walls and additional lateral strengthening, the run-flat tires continue to perform their function even if all air pressure is lost, and you can continue driving for up to 150-250 km (depending on the model) at a speed of up to 80 km/h without any significant loss in vehicle stability.

AutoWeek brings up an interesting report about BMW and the run-flat systems. The report mentions that the Bavarian automaker has embraced this technology more than any other car manufacturer in the world.

BMW RUn flat tyres 655x436

BMW has been moving the majority of its lineup to ride on run-flat tires, starting with the 2003 models of the Z4 and the 5-series. As new models were developed the normal radial tire in a BMW was less and less preferred to the run-flat one. Today, the only models which continue to be fitted with traditional performance rubbers are the M cars.

Tom Baloga, BMW’s vice president of engineering, points out that the main concern is safety since changing a tire along the side of the road is quite dangerous. Other main reasons for adopting these systems and dropping the spare tire were the space used by the latter and the race for reducing vehicle weight.

Run-flats are also considered by the automaker to be a “green” choice, as this involves reducing tire usage by 20 percent, and hence saving millions of tires and the natural resources and energy needed to make them.

There are also downside effects to the usage of run-flat tires. AutoWeek points out that these systems don’t perform like “normal” radial tires, delivering a harsher ride than conventional tires, and adding unsprung weight to the vehicle. Price is also an important element since run-flats are approximately 20 to 30 percent more expensive than a conventional tire.

Dunlop, Michelin and Bridgestone are only some of the tire producers who adopted this system, and they continually struggle to develop the technology; Bridgestone for example is currently selling its third generation of run-flats.

In the meantime it seems that radial tires are still preferred by a lot of consumers whose main concern remain the poor ride of the car with run-flats.

However, in the future it is expected that the technology will be improved at a level where the differences between the two systems would be less noticeable.

[poll id=”62″] [Source: AutoWeek ]

23 responses to “BMW Group is leading promoter of run-flat tires”

  1. M says:

    RFTs are the only reason I will not buy a new BMW. Too bad as I was planning on buying a 528 for the wife.
    I hope BMW make them an option for those who wabt them.

    • FreudeKing says:


      I know so many people who are complaining about these irritating tyres not only from a maintenance point of view, also from a quality point of view. They are not practical and they are bloody expensive. It is like fitting a glass front door for your house but the the manufacturer who is well known for making good glass front doors now insists that they will not put in a reinforced and thickened glass so that it is lighter to open and close. The result is that you have to replace the glass door everytime you close it too hard or it slams shut as a result of wind. Totally STUPID.

      It is so easy for them to just give the customers a choice. The worse is the propaganda that these dealership people are told by BMW to tell cutomers: the car is especially built for RFT and if you fit conventional tyres on, you will lose your warranty and motorplan will not cover this and that…. please! if you tell me the only difference is the reinforced side wall, which we should not even notice, then what’s all this bs? Also why are you selling a cheap version of the 3 Series lately using conventional tyres? Don’t bs your customers around, BMW! There are two other very good brands right next to you!

      • viper says:

        Worst analogy ever. LOL.

        • BIMMER1 says:

          yes, the worst.

          #1: If you can’t afford the tires that come on a car, don’t buy it. You can’t afford the car.

          #2: If you don’t like the RFT’s, put non RFT’s on the car and sell the RFT’s online.

          #3: The fact remains, RFT’s are much safer than non RFT’s. BMW is an innovative company that leads the way, everyone else follows. Soon, every car sold will have them installed. You better get used to them. I have client’s that say those tires saved their life and they love them. They are happy to pay the 20-30% premium for piece of mind. They can also afford it.

          #4: The expense involved in offering both non RFT’s and RFT’s based on what the client wants would be ridiculous. It would basically require an entire redesign of the assembly line. Not to mention it would add time during production to determine which car gets what and that drives up cost, which means the car would be more expensive and probably offset the cost of the RFT’s anyways. You obviously have no clue how an assembly line is set up. Especially when it comes to cars.

          #5: It’s a new technology, and like anything else it is not perfected the first day, first year, or even the first decade they are available. Try driving on RFT’s that came out in 2003. The newer tires feel like you’re riding on air compared to those. They have already come a long way in a comparably short time.

          #6: If you really want to bitch at someone, give Ford a call. If they didn’t sell cars with ridiculously low tire pressure recommendations then there might have never been such a thing as RFT’s.

          #7: If you don’t know that a reinforced sidewall will cause a direct increase in stiffness of ride quality, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re going from a tire with a completely rubber and flexible sidewall to one that has essentially a solid composite sidewall. If the material is harder, so is the ride quality. Duh.

          #8: The cars suspension was designed with the stiff RFT sidewall in mind. So yes, the dynamics of the car will change with non-RFT’s on it. It will not however do anything to void your warranty, and yes ride quality will be softer. But don’t complain when the car feels like the outside front wheel is falling under the car when you are driving it aggressively in the turns.

          #9: I for one am glad you will not be buying any more BMW’s. People like you make my blood boil, and the world of Bimmers is now a better place. Thank you.

          • FreudeKing says:

            You Retard:

            #1: It is not whether you can afford the tyres or not. It is whether it is practical and whether it makes financial sense to be spending an extra 10~20% of the purchase cost of THE CAR within an average of three years ownership (without taking into account puncture mishaps) on tyres. BMWs are currently the most expensive in the premium market and this kind of extra cost would put you in the next level of prouct with another brand (e.g. 3 Series cost + extra tyres cost = cost of an entry level A6)

            #2:If you do that, you will have all sorts of probems with your BMW motorplan, warranty and possibly insurance implications as they deny liability due to the car fitting extra “equipment” not to manufacturer specification. e.g. BMW will deny liability for suspension problems as they will just blame it on the conventional tyres that was counter fitted. I surely do not want that sort of problems with my car.

            #3: Just how did the people you are talking about have a life saving experience and how did they know that they would have died if it wasn’t for the RFT? Bear in mind that the only difference isthe reinforced side walls. A RFT will burst like a conventional tyre and in some cases, more likely to burst when you hit an irregular object. Yes, it lets you go further and therefore means that you will not get stuck in the middle of nowhere, but your tyre pressure monitor should tell you well before hand that you have a puncture beofre your tyres are flat. So even with a conventional tyre, you have time although less time.

            #4: Of course I know about the PRODUCTION LINE and its operations. It is unfortunate that you mind is still lurking in the past and fail to realise the flexibility of today’s assembly lines. It is extremely easy for an efficient production line to incorporate this option. If you were the manager of the BMW Plant, I think we would just be having one standard car with no choice of colour combinations, trims and equipment. In fact, it is easier to have a choice for RFT and NRFT than haveing sports seats and standard seats. The concept of JIT and BTO, which BMW is currently practising will allow this to be done easily. The problem is that they don’t want to because it is human nature not to accpet defeat, that customers want a choice and it is costing the brand sales and profit. I mean, how difficult can it be, RFT or NRFT on a preset up combo of tyre and rim, then add buscuit or not in the boot.

            #5: So you are saying BMW didn’t perfect their stuff before launching to the customers? I am riding on a 2009 RFT and it is still rough… don’t know yet if the meilage has increased thogh.

            #6: What are you on about? Where does Ford come in to the picture? I don’t drive a Ford.

            #7: Of course I know that, that’s one of the reasons I don’t like them. DUH!

            #8: So explain to me why BMW offer a cheap version of the 3 Series with conventional tyres? Do you think they changed the entire suspension setup to accomodate that? I don’t think so. This is marketing bs and propaganda that you are falling for. If the tyres have sufficient air and pressure, that should not be a probelm. If you go into a BMW dealership and complain about suspension problems or go for an alignment, they will first see if you changed your tyres to onventional. If so, they will not perform any work unless it is for your account. I have been told that by BMW – to me, that’s a void warranty.

            #9: I didn’t say that I will not buy a BMW again. I said that many people will not buy a BMW again, especially those that are not that passionate about the brand and there are many of them put there. If this makes your blood boil, then you should create some excitement in your life.

          • Dean Horn says:

            Well said FreudeKing!
            BMW are so full of bs with voiding their warrantees. I’m a tyre retailer so I know the technical stuff about tyres. The * that you are suppose to have on your sidewall of your tyre (otherwise you loose your warrantee) in the only difference in the construction of the tyre. Yes they merely place a * in the sidewall plate before they do a run for BMW, the rest remains the same. They want to eliminate the tyre retailers from working on their brand and make the money for supplying the tyres at absorbetent prices. We also stock the * versions and buy and sell at the same price as the non * version however BMW retail them at about twice our price, It does of course put pressure on our stock holding, cash flow etc and this is how they hope to eliminate us. I’m sure BMW will push the tyre manufactures to exclusively sell the * tyres to them as soon as they can get enough market share to demand it, and then they will really get stuck into ripping their customers off. It’s such propaganda BS! Here in South Africa we have a new Bill called the ‘Consumer Protection Act’ and I hope it will protect us all from this sort of threatening conditional selling.
            Run-flat tyres suck. If you want them for the safety reasons then that fine but besides that they under perform their older cousin in every way. Not a day goes by without a BMW driver asking us if we can’t change his run flats for normal tyres. BMW giving its customers an option (like all the current options you can choose on their production line) is a brilliant idea, then we wouldn’t be wasting our time on this debate you would both have what you want on the car you love, Simple!
            As for Bimmer1’s comment #7 Of course he knows about the stiffer sidewall you idiot. Otherwise there would be no discussion, it’s the results of that stiffness that he complaining about

  2. badger says:

    bmw started out with these run flat tires. Many people believed that the ride was ruined because of the stiffness of the run flats. The old z4 rode very hard, but i guess some customers liked it. the run flat tires now are not a lot better. The suspension is built with it in mind

  3. Alex says:

    New RFTs are not bad actually, I liked the ride better than standard tires on 528 and I used to hate RFTs with a passion. Safety is a plus. But all my BMWs are riding on standards….

  4. Doug says:

    It’s not just the ride quality, it’s all the handling aspects. The tire should be the most compliant part of the suspension; absorbing high-frequency movements and road surface variations used to be the tire’s job and allowed the suspension to be tuned for handling purposes. Having the suspension do both jobs is a needless tradeoff.

    Granted, dampers nowadays can deal with both jobs, but if you’re going to cause extra expense in both the tire and suspension to do this, then I’d rather have that go towards further-improved handling rather than what I already pay AAA for.

  5. BMfan says:

    RFTs are not just good but very important for some of us. You drive without having to worry about having a flat tyre at a bad, lonely or dangerous place especially when one drives over long distances. Don’t know why all the arguement about ride qaulity cos the difference is minimal and for me I don’t really care.

  6. Clinton says:

    Many Porsche Boxster comes with the same Bridgestone RE050A RFT, same tire that is on most sport pkg 3,5 series and Z4’s. But nobody complains about the Porsche.

    The fact is, is all about perception. People who are buying a Boxster don’t expect a plush ride. But SOME BMW buyers do expect it. And those are the ones who are most vocal with their compaints.

    There is nothing wrong with the current RFT technology in terms of handling either. In fact, the tire mentioned has more grip than my Michelin Pilot sport PS2s. The Bridgestones however does not give as much feedback. But for the street, it is perfectly fine.

    • adc says:

      Fact 1: the Bridgestone RE050 (runflat or not) has less grip than the Pilot Sport PS2.
      Fact 2: runflats do affect both ride comfort and handling – they will cause the car to skip laterally over road imperfections, which in a performance car is bad (and can be immensely scary when you drive fast).

      Now I don’t mind some people liking the runflat tires, if it makes them feel safer. What I do mind is that one many models BMW doesn’t offer at least the *option* of fitting regular tires. As simple as that.

      (Thank goodness my M3 doesn’t have runflats).

      • Clinton says:

        Under normal temperature, we didn’t notice any noticable difference. Once the temp drops below 45 (not even close to freezing), the Bridgestone(RE050AI)out grips the PS2 (ZP, rft and non rft)s.
        As shown to me by Bridgestone’s and BMWNA, during the M sport pkg launch last year. I woldn’t rule out that it could be biased. But after owning both sets, and many others, I would agree with BMW that their tire choice is more than adaquate for the streets for more diverse driving conditions. But I would also agree that the PS2 is a better tire choice for max performance.

  7. Lou Adler says:

    My RFTs are terrible! I’ve had four blown tires on my 2008 335ci in the last months (22K miles) and not once could I drive 50 miles on the flat tires. In all cases, by one mile the tires started smoking. In each case I had to be towed and had a 2 hour wait for the tow truck from BMW assist to arrive. This is my fifth BMW (5’s, 7s, X5’s). My lease is up next week, and I’m not sure I’m getting another BMW, although I don’t think I know how to drive any other car.

  8. Lag says:

    RFT are not any safer if you consider higher failure rate particualrly after 15000 miles of wear, the lack of replacement tires in most tire stores outside of major metropolitan areas and the need to drive 30 mph for hours looking for a shop that can fix RFT. My 2008 has been replaced with regular tires since it came with a space saver (and opriginally with RFT). No new BMW until I can resolve the RFT problem.

    • Bimmer1 says:

      Any tire is going to fail if you drive on them with the cords showing through the rubber! The fact of the matter is with all the GOV. BS forcing this crap onto manufacturers this is the end result. Tires that only last 12-20k miles and suffer with ride quality issues. That is the new norm. Welcome to the green initiative, sponsored by us the consumer. When the GOV. started talking about all these green movements, you didn’t think things were going to get better/cheaper/easier, did you? Of course not. They expect us to pick up the slack, and that includes buying products on a more frequent basis because when things aren’t made to last forever, they don’t. We spend more money, they make more money and we’re supposed to just bite out lip and deal with it. Just like some states giving Hybrid drivers special privileges when in reality pretty much all hybrids are a scam and are actually worse for the environment when considering their entire life cycle. They are promoting this crap purely so GOV/big business can make more money off of us suckers. I’m not buying into it.

      • FreudeKing says:

        FYI, there is nothing green about RFT. The only advantage that it might have is that it is able to drive for a certai distance even with no pressure. But then again, if you have a tyre pressure monitor that tells you of a sudden decrease in pressure, who needs RFT? You will know when the pressure decreases by 20% so you still have time to pump it up.

        Furthermore, the govenment has nothing to do with RFT, it is BMW that is forcing iimplementation on all of its products, forcing customers to deal with this inferior, problematic product. Why else do you think no other manufacturer has it standard on all their cars.

        Let’s see why BMW make it NOT AN OPTION but a brutal forced purchase if you want a BMW: Here’s what goes on in the board meetings that they did not tell you:

        1. no more sparewheel, so saving on production cost of a rim and tyre
        2. tyres bought in bulk will be more or less the same price per tyre for them (even though it might cost the customers more than half the prie of a normal tyre after 25000km of useful life)
        3. whenever a customer has a puncture, they will not be called out to help as even if they do call, BMW will just tell them to drive on as they have run flats – additional cost saving for BMW Assist services
        4. They probably thought that when customers realise their tyres are very expensive and lasts only half as long as conventional, they would buy new BMWs more frequently (only to notice a few years down the line that RFT is one of the main reasons why customers are flocking to Audi)

        So what is the outcome for owners: As your RFT only last on average half as long and the cost of replacement is on average more than half as much, your ownership cost should be about 10~20% more than the purchase price of your car based on a 5 year ownership period. Also note the problem with punctures – they don’t allow you to fix a puncture, so you get a new tyre everytime you get a puncture – do you think BMW customers don’t care about their money at all that they wouldn’t mind spending a few hundred dollars on every single puncture? I don’t think so. With this increased cost of ownership of every single new BMW, it is hard to justify any saving you might be having on their Efficient dynamics technology as one puncture and all that fuel cost saving will be gone – will probably take you years to save up to an equivalent amount for a puncture replacement.

  9. Terry Spragens says:

    Run flat on my new 550i. Have turned out to be a very unpleasant surprise. Maybe tHis should be considered for a class action lawsuit.
    Terry Spragens

  10. Badtires says:

    True story…my son and daughter were just out on the road in Colorado about 250 miles from Denver when a run flat tire failed. We called BMW assist and all they could do was drop the two kids at the nearest town and tow the car to Denver. A hotel room was necessary for the night since a car couldn’t be rented till morning. Alot of added expense that could have been avoided with a spare tire. I love the cars but this run flat business is enough to make me look elsewhere for my next vehicle. Think about this the next time your loved ones are out in the middle of nowhere in a BMW.

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