So the story goes, it’s a lovely Friday afternoon and you’re driving home from work on a jam packed interstate in the sweltering heat only to feel a thump vibration from the suspension, and maybe even a hard pull to one side, which can indicate a flat tire, leaving you stranded on the side of the interstate if you are not prepared. What a way to start the weekend! Do you know if your BMW is equipped with a spare tire? Or a tire inflator kit? Did the manufacturer install run-flat tires?
According to research by AAA, more than 30 million drivers no longer have spare tires because many automakers have decided to eliminate them. Lacking a spare makes those drivers more vulnerable on the road, as illustrated above. In lieu of spares, vehicle manufacturers like BMW are making run-flat tires standard on their vehicles and Volvo includes tire inflator kits for a temporary fix, until it can be brought into a BMW repair shop.
Tell Me About Spare Tires
Spare tires can come in many sizes, whether they are “donuts,” to get you a short distance with limited speed, or full-sized, which offer no performance loss and can be rotated around with your vehicle’s other tires. You can check for a spare tire in the trunk of your car by lifting the mats or by looking under your car. It’s a good idea to know how to change a spare, a skill most of us lack these days. Here’s a good video on changing a spare.
Tire Inflator Kit, What’s That?
Tire inflator kits, or tire mobility kits, are designed to coat the inner wall of the tire with a sealant and a compressor helps to re-inflate the tire. They work best with flats that have a puncture on the tread surface, with the object still remaining in the tire. Generally, tire inflator kits are an easy, quick fix. Simply attach the hose of the kit to the tire valve stem, then turn it on and BAM the sealant is injected into the tire. Remember this is only a temporary fix, as these sealants have a limited service life of 50 to 100 miles, so get to your BMW service center asap.
Run-Flat Tires, Those Sound Cool
These are tires installed on your vehicle that you can drive on even with a puncture, in order to get you safely to an independent BMW service center. These tires are made to support your specific vehicle with reinforced sidewalls, and help to maintain control, even in a situation where your tire has no pressure. Run-flat tires work in tandem with your vehicle’s Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
Spare Tires Vs. The Others
The argument goes both ways as to whether it’s better to ditch spare tires, like some car manufacturers are doing, since many drivers don’t know how to change them. They also increase weight, which is what automakers are trying to reduce, while boosting fuel economy. But on the other hand, keeping a spare gives drivers peace of mind that they have a tire that is capable of optimum handling until it can be replaced/repaired. And there are also pros/cons of tire inflator kits (easy to use, but not for every flat tire situation) and run-flat tires (safety advantage, but expensive and decreases fuel economy due to the tire weight).
Since flats tend to happen at the most inopportune time, the most important thing is to be proactive, and know ahead of time if you vehicle is equipped with a spare, a tire inflator kit or run-flat tires—and then get to a specialized BMW repair shop as soon as you can to have the repair made.