Everything you need to know about eliminating punctures
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No one wants to be stuck on the side of the road, because of a flat tyre. Punctures can happen at the most inconvenient times but manufacturers are trying to eliminate this frustration.
Here are some clever solutions available in the New Zealand market.
First appearing in the 1980s, run-flat tyres (RFT) are general-use tyres specially developed with reinforced sidewalls or internal supporting rings to maintain composure even when flat. This means 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 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 top 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 is 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 call-outs for the AA Roadservice team are tyre-related and the team offers a non-toxic tyre sealant product as a temporary repair to assist those with a puncture but also with either an unusable tyre or no spare tyre.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using this method and never put the sealant inside tyres to avoid potential punctures. It’s meant only as a temporary and preventative repair in the event that a puncture happens, and misuse could cause damage.
Michelin unveiled its Tweel System in 2005. Originally it was designed for use on small vehicles such as ride-on lawn mowers and motorised golf carts. They were also used on heavy equipment at hazardous sites where the risk of tyre punctures was high.
Michelin is working with General Motors on a tyre called the Unique Puncture-proof Tyre System (UPTIS), and aims for these to be ready for production by 2024.
Real-world testing of the UPTIS prototypes is set to be on a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs. Other large tyre companies such as Bridgestone are also working on this developing technology.
According to a global study from Michelin, about 12 per cent of tyres on the road are scrapped prematurely due to blow-outs, and about 8 per cent are discarded due to irregular wear because of inflation issues. This equates to 200 million tyres scrapped annually for early replacement.
UPTIS 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.