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Dealer recommended tires for 2007 BMW 3-series

In today’s newspaper, Tom and Ray printed a letter from a friend of the owner of a 2007 3-series BMW. It seems that the owner had a catastrophic sidewall failure on one tire. The BMW dealer insists that he needs to replace the other three tires because they are likely to fail. The dealer also claims that the only tires suitable for the car are the brand and model they stock. Goodyear tires (which may be on the car now) are not acceptable. Tom and Ray correctly advised the writer that any tire which meets BMW’s specifications, regardless of brand, would be suitable. However, there is more to the story.

For most BMWs, including this one, the specified tire is a run-flat. This is probably what the dealer is pushing. $160 is a very competitive price for a run-flat tire. It’s possible that the tires now on the car are not run-flats and that’s what the dealer is objecting to.

Run-flat tires have one virtue. If you get a puncture, you can drive to a tire shop on the flat instead of changing to the spare at the side of the road. Drawbacks to run-flats are higher price, shorter life expectancy and harder ride than conventional tires. Many shops will not repair run-flats.

Within the BMW enthusiast community, run-flats are the subject of a major controversy. Many owners are so dissatisfied with the OEM run-flats that they replace them with conventional tires. Since there is no room in the trunk for a spare, they either go without one or rely on a can of fix-a-flat and a 12 volt compressor.

I’ve heard many others, not just BMW owners, who replace those run-flats as soon as they possibly can with normal tires.