WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.—Owners of 2011- and 2012 model-year cars in the U.S. equipped with run-flat tires are not as satisfied with their tires as owners of cars with standard tires, according to a new survey.
Run-flat owners also are less inclined to recommend their brand to others, according to J.D. Power and Associates' new Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study.
J.D. Power bases its conclusions on input from about 2,150 owners of cars with run-flats who responded to the market research firm's latest survey. That's about 7 percent of all respondents.
Run-flat tires are being used primarily on luxury and performance sports vehicles, J.D. Power said, often to help the car makers improve fuel efficiency by eliminating the need for a spare tire and jack paraphernalia, thereby cutting weight.
While owners of both types of vehicles expressed lower satisfaction with their run-flats, the feeling was more pronounced among owners of performance sports cars. The difference in satisfaction level among owners of luxury vehicles vs. others was only about 1.5 percent, J.D. Power's data show, while the difference among sports car owners was more than 9 percent.
Among the specific reasons for this difference, J.D. Power said, was the need to replace a run-flat tire prematurely. Customers with run-flat tires indicated they are twice as likely to have to replace a tire or tires early as are those with standard tires.
Nearly one third (31 percent) of customers with OE run-flat tires have had to replace at least one tire in the first two years of ownership, compared with just 19 percent of those whose vehicle is equipped with standard tires. Compounding the problem is the fact that run-flat tires cannot be repaired and often need to be replaced in pairs rather than as a single tire, J.D. Power said.
Car owners with run-flat tires report on average having to replace at least one tire after just 16,000 miles or so, J.D. Power reported, vs. 22,559 miles for those with standard tires.
Owners of performance sports cars with run-flat tires are only half as likely as those with standard tire to say they "definitely will" recommend their tire brand to others (14 vs. 28 percent), said Brent Gruber, director, global automotive division.
"That has a potentially tremendous financial impact on tire manufacturers," he said.
Overall, however, customer satisfaction with OE tires is unchanged from the 2012 study, and customers reported experiencing fewer tire problems for a fourth consecutive year.
On average, customers report 74 problems per 100 vehicles, an improvement from 76 in 2012 and 84 in 2011, J.D. Power said. The most frequently reported problems are road hazards/punctures, slow leaks, excessive road noise and fast tread wear.