Bridgestone South Africa

Bridgestone Perfects the Run-flat Tyre

Nov 06, 2018

Tyres are one of the components that all vehicles have in common, so punctures and flat tyres can be an inescapable fact of driving life. Not anymore, says Ary Coetzee, Technical & Product Specialist, Bridgestone South Africa.

He says that Bridgestone have now perfected run-flat tyres. These tyres resist the effects of deflation when punctured, and permit drivers to continue on their journey even after a loss of tyre pressure. Distances and maximum speed of driving on these tyres once punctured vary according to the tyre and the vehicle’s weight load.

Benefits of Run-flat Tyres

“Changing a flat tyre is not only a chore, it can potentially put driver and passengers in a dangerous situation - either due to adverse road and/or climatic conditions, or because of the location. Women particularly are and feel vulnerable when a flat tyre occurs,” he says. “The good news is that run-flat tyres offer a reliable solution to the problem.”

There are also other positive benefits. A vehicle fitted with run-flat tyres do not need a spare tyre and wheel. This saving on resources has positive implications on both cost and the environment. Looking to the future, the absence of a spare tyre will prompt a redesign of vehicle interiors.

History of the Run-flat Tyre System

Bridgestone’s pioneering research into run-flat tyres dates right back to the 1980s, when it began producing a sidewall-reinforced tyre for disabled people. By 1987, the first run-flat tyres were produced as original factory fitment for the Porsche 959.

The next developments were tyre-monitoring systems to alert drivers to a loss of air pressure, along with the development of better sidewall inserts to allow for continued driving even after a drop in pressure.

The first run-flat tyres went on sale in North America under the Firestone brand, followed by the first run-flat version of an Expedia S-01 high-performance tyre.

In the 2000s, Bridgestone began supplying run-flat tyres for certain models of BMW, and R&D collaboration on this technology was initiated with Continental Tyres. By 2005, Bridgestone had shipped more than 3 million run-flat tyres globally, and continues to supply the largest number of run-flat tyres as original equipment to a range of vehicle manufacturers. 

How Run-flat Tyres Work

Coetzee explains that, like conventional tyres, run-flat tyres use pressurised air to support the vehicle’s weight. However, their sidewall supports allow the tyre to maintain its shape when air pressure is lost. These sidewall supports are made of a composite developed in Bridgestone’s R&D labs.

A new development is cooling fins along the sidewall which help reduce heat build-up in the event of a loss of tyre pressure.

“This is a good example of how Bridgestone’s commitment to research and the eagerness of the high-end marques to adopt innovation has led to massive benefits for ordinary motorists,” he observes. “Run-flat tyres are now ready for mainstream use, with tremendous safety and convenience benefits.”

 “As more and more vehicle manufacturers begin to factory-fit Bridgestone run-flat tyres, we see that what was once considered a novelty or something only for high-end cars is becoming standard,” Mr Coetzee concludes. “Meanwhile, in line with Bridgestone’s commitment to innovation, our labs continue their research efforts to find new ways of improving this technology and making it even safer.”

Read about Bridgestone run-flat passenger tyres

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Bridgestone South Africa

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