• Bluedrop Insurance Blog
  • Is a spare tyre better than run-flats?

    Over the past 20 years tyres have become much wider and have a greater diameter, bringing with it a significant impact on weight and space required for a spare tyre within a vehicle. Clearly the additional weight of your vehicle will have a negative effect on CO2 emissions and fuel usage, and for this reason, as well as the need to create more space, we have seen the introduction of run-flats, space-saver wheels or tyre repair kits.

    Spare tyre v Run-flats

    Tyres are not given a high enough prioroty

    Fleet managers need to consider the pros and cons of run-flats to determine the best option for their fleet. Damaged tyres are one of the main causes of nuisance for fleets. Tyres are a much more important purchase than they are given credit for, they are one of the most important parts of your fleet vehicles so consider the choices carefully.

    Manufacturers these days are replacing spare tyres with run-flats, yet statistically most fleets seem to favour a full-size spare wheel. The replacement has seen serious consequences for fleets, with increased vehicle off road (VOR) time, increasing costs of replacement tyres, and in some cases even required hotel stays to name a few. Not to mention that run-flat replacement options are less readily available with fewer options and price brackets to choose from. All this just to lose a bit of weight to reduce the tax bill.

    Are you really making any savings?

    But whilst the cost of a run-flat tyre is higher than the traditional spare tyre are you really making any savings at all? Without a spare readily available a breakdown service will simply recover the vehicle to the nearest tyre centre rather than changing a normal spare tyre there and then, and in many cases the required replacement run-flat may need to be ordered in as they are less likely kept in stock. One other problem with run-flats is that whilst they can be carefully driven on following a puncture at speeds of up to 50mph for up to 50 miles, usually by the time they reach their destination the tyre is beyond repair and the cost of a fully blown new run-flat is on the cards.

    Additionally it is quite likely that any flat tyre situation will require further work if your vehicles have either run-flats or carry tyre repair kits. However, with a full-size spare on-board this either won’t be required or any work that is required will not be urgent and can be planned in at the driver’s convenience.

    You still need to look after run-flat tyres

    Although run-flats can operate under zero pressure when there is a problem it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to look after them in the same way. Run-flats still require the correct pressure, alignment and care to run as normal. You can’t simply run over anything and assume it will be ok. In addition to this the only way of identifying that your tyre is losing pressure is via the tyre pressure monitoring system which will need to be reviewed to ensure it is functioning properly.

    Consider your usage

    Consider how your fleet vehicles are utilised and what types of terrain you will be running over the majority of the time when choosing which option to go with. Be sure that your drivers are aware that if you do adopt run-flats that they are still only as good as a traditional spare and have restricted driving capabilities and need to be replaced as soon as possible.

    Whilst run-flats have developed over time to be a much smoother and quieter ride than they were initially, there are still clearly many other options to consider.

    Always remember that keeping an eye on your fleet's tyre pressure will help to reduce fuel consumption, the risk of breakdown and accident and tyre wear. In some cases using a tyre pressure monitoring system for your fleet can help to reduce fleet insurance payments for these reasons.

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