Run Flat Tires... The Good, the Bad and the Expensive


I recently purchased for my wife a 2009 BMW Z4, a toy of sorts. She loves it.

The issue in question is the run-flat-tires with which it comes. After hearing a number of horror stories from colleagues and friends about these tires, I contacted BMW and was advised that (1) those problems no longer exist because there is “new generation” of RFT’s (which I take with a grain of salt) and (2) that I can get insurance on the tires to the tune of $800.00 for a five year period.

Currently I am undecided as to whether or not to spring for the insurance or just wing it and secondly, when the tires need replacement, do I get RFT’s again or switch to regular tires.

Any experiences, ideas or suggestions would be most welcome

Run flats are only needed where there is no space for a spare tire. I think a Z4 qualifies for that situation. If you can carry a compact spare or can live with the possibility of being stranded with a flat, then you can skip the run flats.

Run flats only give you a limited window to get to a repair station. If you ignore them, do not regulary check the pressure and run them low, they will fail. Some cars have pressure monitoring systems to alert you if the pressure drops below the safe level. Regardless, it is just as important, if not more so, to periodically check them. The people who have bad experiences with them probably think there is no maintenance required and ignore them.

I hope your wife appreciates your generosity.

More and more vehicles are coming with RFTs because there’s no room for a spare, as TwinTurbo said.

I suggest you skip the $800 insurance. Think about it. $800 to insure, what, TIRES?


I’m getting ready to put four new tires on my car. The tires (high quality, expensive tires) will cost less than $800. Besides, if your wife puts any sort of mileage on the car the original RFTs won’t last five years.

I have to wonder if you, or she, will keep the car five years.

If she does manage to wear out the original RFTs, I suggest you replace them with standard tires, which are much less expensive, and not worry about flat tires. When was the last time you had a flat tire? When was the last time your wife had a flat? I haven’t had a flat tire since the 70s.

Potential tire replacement is several years in the future. Why worry about it now? Let her drive and enjoy the car. It will be a long time until you need to replace the tires. Things may change between now and then. There is a “new generation” of RFTs, and they’re getting better all the time. Wait until you need tires to worry about this.

RFt’s are still a utility compromise and as such should be a big part of a decision before you by a car. I have friends with too many problems, expense being a big one, who did not even consider the ramifications. If our advice is to keep all tires as exact as possible, and one fails mid life, big $$$$ can be involved. I personally have a problem where a change of tires can cost as much as a major repair. That’s enough for me to dump the car and get one w/o or switch to regular tires and mount a small spare on/in the trunk.
BTW, how do problems no longer exist on a “new” generation of RFT’s when the complaints haven’t had time to come in yet ?
“mcparadise” observations are excellent as well. I just don’t like problems I have to wait for help and can’t fix myself and drive out of.

I’d get rid of the RFTs and put on a nice set of summer performance tires. Change to new wheels if need be and carry a can of “flat fix” in the trunk. Your wife’s Z4 is a sports car which deserves a proper tire.


I have an 07 335 with runflats. Remember the $800 warranty also covers those $500 a piece rims that one big pothole can ruin(does not cover curb rash). However, check with your insurance company and if you have a low enough deductable, they might cover rim damage. I got about 25K out of my Bridgestones and switched to Michelin. I found the Michelin Pilot ZPs to a marginally better ride and the treadwear rating is a bit better.

Unload the tires and wheels and revert back to standard issue items. For $800 you can have it towed coast to coast…Run Flat Tires: They are milking you like a cow…Why should you pay for their design short-sights??

ALL tires are “run-flats” if you don’t mind ruining the tire and wheel, which can be replaced for FAR less than $800!!

Hi guys (and gals). Thanks for all the replies… reading through them is like thinking out loud and I appreciate the time effort taken to reply.

At this point I think the best approach is 1) forget about the insurance and 2) stay on top of the tires (which are in fact brand new) and make sure that they are kept at the proper pressure. The car has a monitoring system for this but a two dollar tire gauge will live in the glove box (I think it will fit :-).

When the time comes to replace them, however, their replacements will probably be standard tires, a can of flat-fix and a small lighter-plug-type compressor.

For the moment, as was suggested, let her enjoy the car and keep police cruisers at bay.

Again, thank to all for your replies.