Matt, West Palm Beach, Fla.

No, run-flat tires are designed to survive some punctures or other causes of air loss and be driven for up to 150 miles (depending on manufacturer) without adding a tire sealant. Low-profile tires are performance tires that have narrow sidewalls and can look like they are low on air or even flat.


BMW is one manufacturer that uses run-flat tires on most of its vehicles and doesn't offer a spare tire as an option or even provide space for a spare. BMW says its run-flat tires are designed to run at speeds up to 50 mph and for up to 150 miles. Some Hyundai, Mini and Mercedes-Benz models, among other brands, and some hybrid vehicles also come with run-flats. Owners have told us that they were stranded after a run-flat tire failed and they couldn't quickly find a replacement.

Low-profile tires, found on performance-oriented vehicles, are tires with wide treads and narrow sidewalls. For example, in a tire size of 225/45R17, the "45" is the profile or aspect ratio, and that means the sidewall height is 45% of the tread width. A 225/65R17 tire, in contrast, has a taller sidewall that is 65% of the tread width.

You can learn more about tire types and what is best for your driving in the Advice section.

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Answered by Rick Popely on April 13, 2013 in I'm Just Wondering | Permalink

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