New technology and vehicle advancements are designed to increase safety and driver happiness. Car owners are almost always on the lookout for a ride that will meet their every need, whether they want superior handling, crash-avoidance systems, excellent fuel efficiency or plenty of special features. But one area seems to be lacking when it comes to customer satisfaction: tires. Specifically run-flat tires, which are growing in popularity but are failing to make drivers happy.
The basics of run-flat tires
Many motorists may not give their tires a second thought - until something goes wrong, of course. That's where run-flat tires come into play. Originally introduced in the 1980s, these wheels are becoming more popular for today's new car models, according to Bridgestone. The main benefit is that these tires will continue operating even after they've been punctured, giving drivers plenty of time to get to an auto repair franchise for a complete replacement.
While these wheels can't keep running flat forever, they do last long enough to ensure a vehicle can safely get serviced without sacrificing safety. It prevents drivers from having to pull over in harsh weather or dangerous conditions. They could also be a wise option for young drivers who don't have much experience changing tires or dealing with adversity on the roads. Despite the benefits, using run-flat tires isn't an overwhelmingly positive experience.
Run-flat tires aren't satisfactory
A recent survey from J.D. Power found that run-flat tires leave drivers with a bad taste in their mouths. According to the results, people with these wheels are less satisfied overall and tend to replace them more frequently. In the second year of ownership, 27 percent of run-flat tires are replaced, compared to just 16 percent of traditional wheels, the survey reported.
This trend was consistent across segments. Owners of performance sport cars reported the biggest difference in satisfaction. Those who drove on run-flat tires rated their happiness with the product at an average of 612 out of 1,000. That's significantly lower than those with other tires, who rated their satisfaction at 685. Performance and the ability to handle standard wear were two of the largest complaints.
"The use of run-flat tires is likely to increase as automakers continue to view them as a viable option for improving fuel efficiency by eliminating the need for a spare tire, thereby reducing the weight," said Brent Gruber, director, global automotive division at J.D. Power. "It's vital that auto and tire manufacturers address the ride and wear issues, which are still not meeting customer expectations. Customers expect that run-flat tires won't compromise tread life or the ability to provide a quiet and comfortable ride."
Finding the right tires
Your vehicle may come equipped with run-flat tires, but that doesn't mean you have to stick with those products. If you find that the quality of the wheels is lacking, you are able to move on to different options and find a set that best fits your needs.
The type of tire used on a car is something drivers will have to consider as they're shopping for a new model. If you have a poor history with run-flat tires, then it may be time to refine your search and sift through options. Everything will hinge on the type of car you want and what your priorities are. You'll have to do your own research and maybe even confer with experts, but in the end you'll be more satisfied with your investment.