2017 Lexus LC 500 Run-Flat Tires – Good or Bad?
The single most popular story I have published at Torque News in four years is “We put BMW run-flat tires to the test and give them a thumbs-down.” If you Google “BMW run flat tires” you may find that it is the first result posted after the adverts. Owners of premium cars like Lexus’ new 2017 LC 500 expect the best, and that includes tires. Will Lexus’ choice of custom Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP be seen as a positive or negative by buyers?
Let’s get one thing out of the way before we go on. Michelin, Pirelli, and others who make run-flats make great tires. Their durability, safety and their ability to get take you 50 miles at limited speeds on a puncture are not in question (at least by us). However, automakers don’t put spare tires into cars that use run-flats. No spare means that if you are on vacation in your luxury grand touring car far from home on a holiday weekend and you get a flat or a sidewall is damaged you have a problem.
The problem with a puncture is dealers are not open on Sundays and holidays for service. These tires are custom-made for a very small pool of cars, so even if you find a tire store open on a Sunday or holiday, the chances are they will not have your tire in stock. So now you have a choice. Have your $100K plus vehicle towed long distance, or possibly miss a work day while you wait for a tire supplier to get you a replacement.
That is just the first problem. The second problem is that run-flats don’t address tire damage other than punctures. They will not get you home if you hit a curb or pot-hole and damage the sidewall. A conventional tire with a compact spare tire will get you home or to a tire store in that situation.
Whenever I write stories about tires and tire damage readers, ask “How often does this really happen?" I can report that in the past year I have had two punctures in two different vehicles, and I destroyed the sidewall on a third vehicle. So, at least to this owner of a Lexus Coupe with a spare, having no spare on a future Lexus is a real concern.