How to Identify a Run-Flat Tire

by David Lipscomb
Jupiterimages/ Images

Run-flat tires, initially introduced by BMW, are designed to stay on the rim in the case of a catastrophic blowout. These tires are self-sealing, incorporating a gel layer under the tread surface. In the event of a puncture, this gel instantly forms a seal around the debris that caused the puncture or hole. This is generally permanent. Identify run-flat tires by carefully inspecting the tires for specific markings.

Step 1

Turn on the flashlight. Scan the sidewall of the tire.

Step 2

Look for markings such as "ZP," "RFT," "SEAL" or an image of a flat tire with an arrow pointing away from it. Use the magnifying glass to pick out these indices, if necessary.

Inspect the rim area of the tire as many run-flat models have plastic, load-bearing slugs in lieu of a traditional rubber rim attached to the wheel.


  • Run-flat tires cannot be retread due to the nature of the internal construction of the tire.
  • Cars equipped from the factory with run-flat tires (every car manufactured after 2008) have a tire pressure indicator on the dash. If this indicator light turns on, have your tires inspected.


  • Many run-flat models specify that you should not exceed 55 miles per hour after puncture.

Items you will need

  • Magnifying glass
  • Flashlight

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