Everyone Hates Run-Flat Tires

Run flat tires are the worst. No, really. That’s what people say. It’s true. J.D. Power says so. Yeah. That guy who does the surveys. And hands out the trophies. No not the big silver ones, the glassy corporate-looking ones. You know the ones. You see them in those car commercials.

Last week J.D. Power and Associates, which is actually not just some guy but a bunch of people, released the results of their 2013 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study, which found that most people hate run-flat and low rolling resistance tires.

Each serves their own purpose, but the ones that have anecdotally irked enthusiasts the most are the run-flat tires, owing mostly to their stiff sidewalls, which can hurt ride quality and handling ability. Now the industry watcher has gotten some data to back up the general feeling:

Run-flat tires are primarily being used on luxury and performance sports vehicles. In both instances, overall satisfaction with tires is lower when vehicles are equipped with run-flat tires, compared with when they are equipped with standard tires.

Overall satisfaction among owners of luxury vehicles with run-flat tires is 728 (on a 1,000-point scale), compared with 739 among those who own luxury vehicles with standard tires. The gap is even more pronounced among owners of performance sports vehicles, among whom overall satisfaction is 665 with run-flat tires vs. 732 with standard tires.

Perhaps the most surprising finding, however, is that car owners reported having to replace their run-flat tires more frequently than their “normal” counterparts, at 31% to 19%, respectively. In addition, owners of cars with run-flats have to replace tires more frequently due to flats and blowouts than people with regular tires.

It seems to defeat the purpose of having a run-flat tire to begin with, really, if you’re having to replace them on a consistent basis due to flats.

Perhaps that repetitive thudding noise you’re hearing then is not your flat tire, but a poor automotive engineer banging his head on his computer after being told his perfect-handling wonder is being given run-flats.

What’s your experience with the tires?