You must have seen some cars with ‘RF’ stamped on the tire’s sidewall but don’t know what it is. Although RF tires are less popular among car owners, they are making a solid position beyond conventional car tires. So, what does RF mean on tires?
RF on tires stands for “run-flat”, “reinforced”, or “reinforced sidewall.” It indicates that the tire has a reinforced construction. This structure makes them more resistant to damage and capable of carrying loads during tire punctures, blowouts or bursts for certain miles, typically up to 50 miles.
Continue reading and learn more about RF or run-flat tires from this comprehensive guide.
What Does RF Mean on Tires?
The ‘RF’ on the tires means they are run-flat tires. These are specifically self-supporting run tires, providing a limited run-on period following a puncture or other tire damage.
They have specially designed tire beads that remain attached to the rim flange, even during deflation. As a result, the tires don’t come off of the ring. These tires can retain their initial robust shape despite being punctured.
Generally, when a tire punctures, air losses from it, and you will be unable to drive the car. But with RF tires in your vehicle, you can drive your car safely for several miles. You can easily go to a garage or the nearest mechanic shop to replace the punctured tire.
Driving is possible because RF tires are engineered with reinforced sidewalls. The tire doesn’t come off of the rim due to its specialized design. Thankfully, carrying a spare tire in your car is unnecessary when your car has tires installed.
There are 2 types of RF tires in the market.
- Self-supporting Tire: Durable and hard rubber is used to make the wall of these rf tires type. They can support the entire weight of your vehicle when tire air pressure drops suddenly. A tire pressure monitoring system is often equipped with these tires, helping a driver understand the tire’s situation in real-time.
- Auxiliary Supported Tire: These RF tire types don’t use rubber in their walls. Instead, they are engineered with a special set of rims. A steel ring is used inside of them to support the whole weight of your vehicle.
Should I Get Run Flats for My Car?
Learning the advantages and disadvantages will be helpful before deciding whether you should get run-flat tires on your car.
- Driving Control
The biggest benefit of RF tires is they allow you to drive constantly, limiting accidents because of tire blowouts or flat tires.
After a tire explosion or puncture, rf tires permit the driver to drive the car for a certain distance. More importantly, the driver will completely control the vehicle during this time.
Generally, an RF tire allows the driver to run the car at 50 mph for 50 miles while ensuring safety. As a result, you won’t have to stop your car on the side of the road for tire replacement.
This advantage is especially beneficial when driving on difficult terrain, and there are no conditions to handle the problem by stopping your car.
As mentioned, rf tires are specially made using rubber. Thanks to such construction, making the tires withstand the excessive temperatures of asphalt roads. This way, having a spare tire on the car becomes unnecessary.
RF tires prevent sagging of the tire sidewalls in a puncture. The reason is they have ultra-rigid radial structures. Also, they can run for short distances with little to no tire air pressure.
When it comes to safety, this feature is remarkable. When driving your car at a decent speed and suddenly a tire blowout occurs, your vehicle may slip off the road.
Such an incident can lead you to an unwanted accident. This type of incident can easily be handled with run-flat tires. You will not lose control over your vehicle during a puncture.
- Let’s You Save Fuel
Since carrying a spare tire is not required, helping you create a spacious space. Also, storing the tools for replacing the burst tire is unnecessary, reducing your car’s overall weight. As a result, you will notice less consumption of fuel.
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- Minimizes Driver Comfort
Run-flat tires minimize driver comfort. The thinner and stiffer construction of these tires is the prime reason. Due to such construction, they fail to absorb shocks and bumps efficiently, creating a lot of noise.
However, the good news is that some manufacturers focus on this problem and add new technologies to RF tires to increase absorbency.
The replacement price of run-flat tires is high compared to regular tires. The price is 30%-40% higher than conventional tires.
- Unsuitable for Wet, Slippery Road Conditions
As mentioned, run-flat tires have poor grip. That is why there is a possible risk of an accident when driving on slippery, wet or low temperatures road conditions. If your car runs with RF tires, be extra careful when on the road.
related questions (FAQs)
Repairing run-flat tires is not recommended by most manufacturers. Removing an under-inflated tire from the wheel and detecting the problem can be damn challenging. Moreover, many Rf tires have a “Do Not Repair” imprinted on the sidewall. So, repairing RF tires is simply a waste of time and money.
Theoretically, run-flat tires are compatible with all kinds of vehicles. The reason is they are designed in the same dimension as conventional tires.
The thumb rule is you can drive with a run-flat tire maximum of 50 miles at 50 mph at 0 tire air pressure. Hopefully, this distance is enough to get to a repair or mechanic shop. Be mindful that run-flat tires can’t be driven for indefinite miles when there is no air pressure in the tire.
Mixing run-flat tires and conventional tires must be prohibited in normal cases. Such an act can increase braking distance, minimize driving stability, and negatively impact steering response and cornering. However, if emergencies or you require a short-term fix, you can mix run-flat tires with conventional tires.
So, now you know what does RF mean on tires. If you prefer safe driving, rf tires can do it for you. They ensure smooth driving even during punctures or blowouts. You can drive your car for certain miles with punctured tires when rf tires are installed, helping you easily reach the nearest mechanic shop.
Although these tires have a few disadvantages, installing them is still a particular trade-off. Accept its drawbacks and get the benefits of enjoying a safe drive.
Louison Automotive Inc.
Certification: BSc in Mechanical Engineering
Education: Mechanical engineer
Lives In: 539 W Commerce St, Dallas, TX 75208, USA
Rasel is an auto mechanic student and writer with over half a decade of experience in the automotive field. He has worked with top automotive brands such as Lexus, Quantum, and also owns two automotive blogs autocarneed.com and taxiwiz.com.