Tire study: Replacement rate runs higher for run-flats
Run-flat tires are far more likely than conventional tires to need replacement because of a flat or blowout, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.
Power’s 2013 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction study found that nearly one-third of the car buyers whose 2011 or 2012 vehicles had run-flat tires had to replace at least one of them because of a flat or blowout, compared with 19 percent of those driving on standard tires.
The findings, released Thursday, were based on more than 30,000 responses from owners of new 2011 and 2012 models and covered only original-equipment tires. Because of the higher failure rates, respondents with run-flat tires reported replacing at least two of them at an average of 16,000 miles, compared with an average of 22,559 miles for respondents whose vehicles had standard tires. Because run-flat tires cannot be repaired, tire manufacturers often recommend replacing them in pairs to keep the tread wear balanced.
The study said the most commonly reported tire problems are road hazards or punctures, slow leaks, excessive road noise and fast tread wear.
In addition, research conducted by Power’s Consumer Insights and Strategy Group regarding low-rolling resistance tires found that many “consumers are concerned that equipping the tires on their vehicle means compromising traction and durability in exchange for better gas mileage.”
Brent Gruber, director of Power’s global automotive division, said in a statement that while marketing material for low-rolling resistance tires concentrates on fuel efficiency, “manufacturers may also benefit from advertisements” about the traction and dependability of the tires.”
He added: “Consumers don’t fully understand the benefit of low-rolling resistant tires. They believe they are forfeiting important aspects of tire performance by opting for low-rolling resistant tires, yet don’t know how much improvement in fuel efficiency they should expect in return.”
Power said overall satisfaction among owners of luxury vehicles equipped with run-flat tires is 728 on a 1,000-point scale, compared with 739 among luxury vehicle owners with standard tires. Owners of performance sports vehicles with run-flat tires reported an even lower satisfaction rating of 665, compared with 732 for owners with standard tires.
“Automakers are trying to reach the next level of fuel economy and are looking to their suppliers -- in this case, tire manufacturers -- to help them get there,” Gruber said in his statement. “The challenge is doing this while finding tires that meet customers’ expectations. Run-flat tires are not currently meeting those expectations.”
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