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BMW 3-Series Run Flat Tires



  • capriracercapriracer Somewhere in the USPosts: 856
    Don't make me stop this car......No, no! That's not right.

    There seem to be reports of RunFlat tires not doing well, and there seems to be reports of RunFlat tires doing fine.

    There also seems to be reports of regular tires not doing well, and there seems to be reports of regular tires doing fine.

    So there is a awful lot of contradiction in all of this. So how do we sort this out? Is there anyone in a position to see the bigger picture?
  • I haven't posted for a while, but still read the discussion.

    I know there are 'for and against' for all tires, but from personal experience where RFTs had severe and irregular wear, fitting non-runflat tires gave a completely normal wear pattern without changing camber, or geometry. I'm now on my second set of non-runflat tires, different high performance tire, again wearing evenly.

    RFT's do not wear as well with negative camber, the stiff sidewalls do not allow the tire to flex to any degree like non run-flats.

    The wear rate is very similar over in the UK, to tires we have been fitting for years, that is not a big concern for us, just the pre-mature wear that wastes tires. We've had soft compounds on BMW car tires for years before RFTs, but RFTs have to be soft, or the grip levels would be disasterous. It helps compensate for the tire not really getting a good footprint.

    Ride issues are our biggest complaint, the crashing over poor road surfaces, and compromised dynamics.

  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 4,056
    Thanks, Pete.

    Always good to hear from you.
  • smarty666smarty666 Posts: 1,503
    edited November 2010
    Hi everyone, I was glad to find this thread b/c I really like the new 3 and 5-Series and was considering cross-shopping them when my Acura lease is up next year. I don't have the time to run through all the posts in this thread so I was hoping someone could just answer a few of my questions if possible b/c the few posts I have read have me really questioning whether or not to even cross shop BMW.

    1) Is BMW the only luxury company that has RFTs on all their models? and if so, why and when did BMW switch from using GFT to RFT?

    2) Do BMW dealerships carry GFT in stock or on order so that you can maybe swap off the RFT's for GFT's before you take it off the dealer lot at time of sale?

    3) How long have people typically gotten out of their RFTs before having to replace them with GFT?

    4) Has anyone, been able to go to an independent tire shop or service center and get an adjustment made to have the new RFTs taken off and GFTs put on in their place without having to pay full price for the GFTs?

    5) How did you go about getting a donut spare tire since BMW doesn't even provide that anymore?
    Thanks in advance for your help and information!!! :)
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited November 2010
    1- On all models, I believe so.

    2-Depends upon the individual dealership, but I suspect no dealer in the US would remove run-flats from a new vehicle.

    3-Depends on the driving characteristics of the owner as well as the model/options.. Some get only 5K miles....others get upwards of 40-50K.

    4-Unknown. I guess its possible...But, why would any shop do it? Still, I suggest you call around and ask shops/tire dealers in your area.

    5-Try places like Remember, BMW offers no spare tire well or space for a jack, spare, etc.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    edited November 2010
    1) I believe I've heard of other manufacturers dipping their toes into the RFT market (Honda/Acura and Toyota to name two), however, I don't believe any other maker has embrased the RFT concept like BMW has.

    2) Nope; in fact some ill-informed BMW dealers actually have the cheek to suggest you'll void part of your warranty if you change. That of course is a lie, but some of the sales and service folks don't seem to know any better.

    3) The summer performance RFTs that some as part of the Sport Package are typically good for ten to fifteen thousand miles, some even more. That said, due to the asymetrical tire size, the tires cannot be rotated and they typically start getting really noisy between the eight to ten thousand mile mark. Cars without the Sport Package are typically shod with all-season tires with the same size at all four corners; these tires not only last longer, they can be rotated which can partially mitigate the noise. If you're leasing most folks recommend you replace the RFTs with GFTs well before you get to the 5mm minimum tread deapth (per BMW-FS). Doing this will allow you to put the RFTs back on immediately prior to turning the car back in (once again, per BMW-FS the car must be returned with RFTs).

    4) I've not heard of any independent shops effectively buying the RFTs off of a new car, but I'm not saying it's impossible either. In my case, I had the factory tires yanked after only 714 miles and sold them on Craig's list for well over half of the cost of the new tires.

    5) Contrary to the previous post, BMW does in fact offer a jack and spare tire kit as an aftermarket accessory; that said, many folks simply opt to buy a kit like this:

    Keep us posted.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited November 2010
    Contrary to the previous post, BMW does in fact offer a jack and spare tire kit as an aftermarket accessory; that said, many folks simply opt to buy a kit like this:

    I stated BMW offered no SPACE for a spare or jack...Not that they didn't offer them as accessories.

    5-Try places like Remember, BMW offers no spare tire well or space for a jack, spare, etc.
    Get your fact straight.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Sorry, my bad. One wrong fact, compared to your numerous incorrect factoids.
  • highlandpetehighlandpete Posts: 46
    edited November 2010
    The spare issue, seems to be a market related problem. So in one sense you are correct. We can order a space saver spare kit here in the UK, just the wheel and tire, or a complete kit with jack, etc. Couldn't to begin with, but I believe the pressure on BMW was quite high, due to all the negative feedback, and folks needing the security of a spare wheel.

    As to other brands using RFTs, here in the UK we can opt for RFTs on some Fords, on some VAG models there is the option for RFTs. Mercedes does have a sort of 'half way' tire option. Named an 'MO Extended', allows up to 30miles @ 50mph and then you definitely bin it.

    What is surprising many UK users, cars are coming in without any spare tire even on the GFT models, even the mobility kit (pump and goo) can be an option. :surprise:

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    We have a few models (of which the names escape me for the moment) here in the States that list space saver spares and mobility kits as options as well. That said, it's still pretty rare that manufacturers sell cars over here without a spare tire and a jack. :)
  • bimmer4mebimmer4me Posts: 266
    edited November 2010
    I've been informed that BMW doesn't recommend rotating tires regardless if all four tires are the same size. My local tire shop recommends rotating them to extend tire life which in the past I've always done. No one at my local BMW or BMW-800# can tell me why not to rotate them. Does anyone know why BMW recommends this no rotation policy? Serious answers only please.
  • smarty666smarty666 Posts: 1,503
    I have an Acura and Infiniti right now and as far as I know, they are not using RFT's on their vehicles as OEM. They might offer them in the service department as replacements but I haven't heard any of the Japanese companies switching to OEM RFTs yet, I sure hope they don't.

    Sounds like a real pain in the butt BMW is doing with these RFTs. I don't want to generalize and act as if all RFTs are bad, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that BMW uses cheap brands like Continental and Goodyear for their RFTs rather than more quality brands like Michelin, Bridgestone, and Yokohama?

    Just a thought!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    BMW recommends against rotating asymetrical tire sizes because the rear tires are too wide to work on the front end of the car. If you have a non-SP car (or bought wheels and tires that give you the same size all around), there is every reason in the world to periodically rotate your tires.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Some models of the Acura RL and Honda Odyssey came from the factory with the Michelin PAX version of RFTs. The hue and cry (not to mention the law suits) persuated Honda to rethink their decision; last I heard, they were no longer offering RFTs on any of their cars.

    Here is a link to a discussion that contains over 1,500 posts; the majority of which are about the Odyssey tires: steve_, "Run-flat, self-sealing, PAX tires for Minivans" #1, 29 Nov 2004 7:27 pm

    As far as the quality of RFTs goes, it seems that BMW uses the best of the breed, of course that ain't sayin' much at this point.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited November 2010
    Does anyone know why BMW recommends this no rotation policy?

    From page 211 of the 2010 BMW 328i Owner's Manual...

    BMW advises against swapping wheels between the front and rear axles, even if all tires have the same size, as this could impair driving characteristics. If the tires are of mixed sizes, swapping tires between axles is not permissible.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    That's been their policy for like..., ever. Real world experience with cars that don't turn a wheel on a track in anger might well indicate that tire rotation is very advantageous. Said another way, when pushing a car to 10/10ths in the handling department, rotating tires may well cause some issues when hot-footing it through an off-camber/decreasing radius turn; for the rest of us, rotate away. :)
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited November 2010
    ... when pushing a car to 10/10ths in the handling department, rotating tires may well cause some issues when hot-footing it through an off-camber/decreasing radius turn; for the rest of us, rotate away.

    In this I completely agree.

    I know that my wife's MINI would never have gotten in excess of 50K miles on her run-flats without rotating the tires every 5K miles (each time I changed her oil, another issue altogether).

    Personally, oil change frequencies and tire rotations are probably the 2 main disagreements I have with BMW's policies. However, I feel each owner should decide what's best for himself/herself. No one plan usually fits all, except in rare circumstances.

    Interesting how BMW recomended a much more frequent and aggressive maintenance schedule when the customer was paying, but saw fit to greatly reduce (and in some cases, completely eliminate) maintenance events when the 4 year/50K "free" maintenance plan was implemented.

    Frankly, I am at a loss why BMW doesn't offer a no-run-flat option, especially since it appears to be moving to its "Joy" slogan and away from its older, more performance oriented "Ultimate driving machine" slogan, coupled with all the bad press given to run-flats.

    After all, I wonder just how many buyers of new BMW's actually drive their cars to the max? How many drivers of new BMWs would notice a change from the touted 50-50% front-rear weight distribution to a possible 48-52% due to carrying a donut spare tire???

    I guess when you're increasing sales each year, profits are up, etc. the view from the top is "Why change what's working"?"

    Or, maybe its something else entirely...
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Personally I have no issue with BMWs oil change schedule. FWIW, while it is true that the extended OCI recommendation coincided with the advent of free maintenance, I don't believe one had anything to do with the other. I know lots of folks think otherwise; what they're missing (I think) was the fact that BMW also made the move first to LL-98 certified synthetic oil in 1999 (the first year of free maintenance if I'm not mistaken) and then to synthetic oil that meets the even more stringent LL-01 standard in 2002.

    The OLM in my 2002 530i called for the first oil change at ~12,000 miles (which made sense as I picked the car up in Germany and spent a couple of weeks sight seeing, much of that time at high speeds on the autobahn), and the second oil change at ~18,000 miles (which also made sense as the bulk of those miles were tooling back and forth between southern New Hampshire and a client of mine in Long Island). Just prior to each oil change I took an oil sample and sent it out for analysis, and guess what? Both samples came back showing the oil was getting tired but was not yet completely exhausted; changing it any earlier wouldn't have yielded any benefits.

    On the tire rotation issue, one of the things I really appreciated about the 530i was that it was the last (I think) BMW model available with the Sport Package and symetrical tire sizes. Said another way, I was able to rotate the summer performance tires and managed to turn the car in at lease end with the factory rubber still on the rims (I did however use a different set of wheels and tires in the winter, for obvious reasons).
  • capriracercapriracer Somewhere in the USPosts: 856
    The reason BMW does not recommend rotating tires is that they value handling much more highly than tire wear. Rotating tires reduces the handling a bit while the tire developes the new wear pattern.

    Since BMW also specifies high camber angles - which leads to irregular wear, but does benefit handling - it ought to be obvious that handling trumps tire wear in BMW's eyes.
  • dohrmcdohrmc Posts: 14
    There are a lot of BMWs here in the Atlanta area. They are everywhere, it seems. Since I became interested in this subject, I have started taking an informal poll at the gas station near my house. I just ask them, [BMW drivers], how they are satisfied with their RFT.
    I have yet to meet a BMW owner who knew that his car had RFT on it.
    I don't think the subject is ever brought up by salesmen, and the customers haven't a clue for the most part.
    At least, I have yet to talk to one who had a clue on this subject.
    With that lack of interest/knowledge in the customer base, why should BMW care? I don't know how their sales are doing in the USA, but they would seem to be strong.
    Does anyone have a number as to what percentage of BMW are leased vs bought?
  • smarty666smarty666 Posts: 1,503
    Thanks for the link man! You most likely have been tirerack before but if you check out their site, RFT's do not go over big in reviews and consumer satisfaction from what I read, that is why I have stayed away from them to this point.
  • My 2006 325xi Sport Wagon with sports package has symmetrical tire sizes. The RFTs on this car were a disaster (cupping). Replaced them with GFTs at 7700 miles.

    The RFTs on my 2009 328i with sports package are quiet and show little wear at 10,000 miles. Go figure.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    The thing is, your 325xi Sport Wagon does not have a true Sport Package (i.e. lowered/uprated suspension, summer performance tires), it just has the cosmetic bits (the steering wheel and the seats chief among them). My comments were in relation to cars with the full-boat sport package. :)
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited November 2010
    I have yet to meet a BMW owner who knew that his car had RFT on it.

    I believe you. And, I see that as a failure on BMW's part.

    IF run-flats are so great, then why not exploit that "greatness" by making sure the owner knows about them?

    Or, conversly, if they aren't so great, then why not install non-run-flats, keep the price the same, pocket the extra $$$ and eliminate the controversy entirely?

    I wonder just how many would NOT buy a BMW due to the absence of run-flat tires.

    Or, why not the best of both worlds.... offer the option?

    Really, is it simply that BMW can't figure out how to find the space for a space-saver spare?
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited November 2010
    For driving as you described, I think the modern lubricants offer sufficient protection for the recommended mileage intervals that BMW promotes.

    However, I would say the majority of drivers use their cars in short, less than 10 mile trips, which, regardless of the lubricant quality, will never get the oil up to its intended operating temperature range (allowing humidity buildup/sludge development, etc.).

    While I doubt that in itself will cause many issues during the warranted lifetime of the car, sludge buildup and associated damages do affect engines later on. Obviously, BMW would offer more oil changes if the engine failure rate was so high that it costs more money for repairs than oil changes.

    For a lease-owner, I wouldn't care. But, if I intended to keep the car for a long period, more frequent oil changes would be in my future.

    I simple see it as cheap insurance, and while others may see it differently,,, all I can say is that it works for me.

    Sending used motor oil out for analysis seems reasonable to you and me, but, as the previous posting made it clear about owners and their lack of knowledge regarding run-flats on their car, oil analysis isn't even an option to them (lack of awareness).

    Lets face it....I suspect most BMW owners these days don't buy them for their performance...other factors are at play (image, build quality, styling are a few examples). I can count on one had the BMW drivers I know that are performance oriented, and each one of them owns a M-something.

    Having discussed this issue in detail with the head of a BMW/MINI parts dept., he made it clear that he personally has seen an increase in oil-related engine failures since the oil change mileage ranges have been extended by BMW, even with the better lubes.

    Not scientific, of course, but he's been the parts man there for as long as I can recall (maybe 20 years or more).

    Again, no one rule fits all cases, and each owner should find a method that works best for him/her.
  • You may be right, but I would like to know the basis for your statement.

    There is a barely noticeable difference in the handling between my 325xi and my 328i. If anything, the wagon has a bit better road feel than the sedan. I assumed it was because it is heavier and has AWD.

    The 328i might perform better on a track, but for normal driving if I had to make a choice I would take the wagon.
  • smarty666smarty666 Posts: 1,503
    This debate got me thinking, not that their isn't problems with the RFTs BMW is using on all their models now, but I think we people (car nuts or people who research and know about cars a lot) notice the rougher ride and louder nature of RFTs vs GFTs b/c regardless of what BMW has done, they still sell the 3 and 5 Series in droves and except on car sites where us car nuts (enthusiasts) talk about this stuff people don't mention it.

    I know from personal experience that many people, including my mother and girlfriends in the past, never notice any differences between tires while I on the other hand could tell a much bigger difference.

    I think a lot of BMW buyers do not even notice that they have run flats and just go about their business.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I have yet to meet a BMW owner who knew that his car had RFT on it.

    That doesn't surprise me. How many of those owners are really going to push their car? How many of those owners opted for automatics instead of manuals? For that matter, how may could even drive a stick?
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I wonder just how many would NOT buy a BMW due to the absence of run-flat tires.

    The RFTs on the BMW factored into my decision to buy a 2009 G37S-6MT instead of a BMW.
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