4 Mercedes Run-Flat Tires Problems (Explained)

Mercedes cars have always been a synonym for “German luxury,” and the peace of mind of the owner/driver was always a part of the design philosophy.

Run-flat tires on many Mercedes’ are an attempt to provide you with a solution for any potential flat tire on the road.

But, run-flat tires on Mercedes cars come with certain problems, which are very familiar to any Mercedes driver, from poor longevity to the exorbitant price tag the replacement carries.

When there is a problem, the solution should exist too.

So, I would like to talk with you today about the most common problems caused by run-flat tires on Mercedes vehicles and also how to fix them.

Do Mercedes Cars Have Run-Flat Tires?

The most straightforward answer to this question is maybe. Many Mercedes models have run-flat tires as an option, and some have them as standard equipment.

The exact type of tire on your Mercedes depends on your and the dealer’s choices when they are purchasing new vehicles.

Another problem is that many smaller dealers advertise MOE tires as run-flats.

While these tires can be driven when flat, they are not certified as run-flats, and I will at the end of this article explain what they actually are.

In case your Mercedes vehicle has true certified run-flat tires, you can expect to experience some of the most common issues with them.

The reality of this type of tire is what it is.

What Are the Common Problems with Mercedes Run-Flat Tires?

So, let’s move on to what those issues are and how you should fix them or at least decrease their impact on your driving experience.

Tread Wear

OEM run-flat tires on Mercedes cars are made by several manufacturers, including Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop, Goodyear, Michelin, and Pirelli.

But common characteristic of these tires is a shorter lifespan and the necessity to replace them much sooner than common tubeless tires.

The main cause of these issues is their construction. Their ability to be driven for a limited time when punctured depends on the stiffness of the sidewalls of the tire.

Which then leads to a rougher ride. As a result, stiff tires are unable to absorb vibrations and the impact of the road.

The quick and very dirty solution tire makers employ for this problem is to use a softer tread compound on their run-flat tires.

There are no easy solutions to this problem. Depending on your driving style, if you are often aggressively starting or braking, you might extend the life of your tires if you take it a bit easier on them.

Also, it would be best to keep an eye on the tire pressure sensors reading, as low pressure in tires leads to higher tread wear.

But the only surefire solution is ditching them and switching to MOE tires.

Poor Ride Quality

As I’ve said above, run-flat tires have reinforced sidewalls. This is a crucial part of their construction. But that makes them considerably stiffer than the regular tubeless tires.

There are no issues while driving with them on a perfectly flat surface, but such roads are practically unicorns.

Because of stiff sidewalls, run-flat tires are unable to absorb low shocks from the uneven road surfaces. And you will be experiencing much rougher ride quality than you would expect.

If this is the case with your Mercedes vehicle, you can fix it by changing the suspension settings.

This might sound like something you should be taking your Mercedes to a dealership, but it isn’t.

All you have to do is to use the DYNAMIC SELECT mode.

The best choice is the Individual program, where you can set suspension in the Comfort mode while still enjoying the engine’s responsiveness and transmission offered by Sport and Sport+ modes or the fuel economy of the Eco mode.

Price of Replacement

Mercedes run-flat tires come with a 40% to 200% higher price than equivalent tubeless tires.

Because it is always recommended to change tires in pairs for safety reasons, whether you are replacing an old or flat tire can be very expensive.

There is no easy solution to this problem. The first thing you should do is avoid changing tires at a dealership.

While the tires will cost you the same as elsewhere, mounting, balancing, and installation are marked up.

But the most significant savings you will make are by replacing the run-flat tires with MOE or regular tubeless tires.

Failure of The Inner Sidewall

Many drivers complain about failed inner sidewalls on OEM Continental run-flat tires, especially the low-profile tires.

And this is most common among Mercedes owners in areas where the meter speed bumps are installed.

When you are crossing one such, the inner sidewalls tend to rub the edge of the speed bump, and it is causing damage to the tire, which is not apparent.

Eventually, this damage will cause the tire to fail completely, and the failure will be on the most critical part, the sidewall.

Such tire will not be drivable when flat. Only the run-flat tire with intact sidewalls allows you to do so.

The solution for this is a bit of prevention. If you have to drive over this type of speed bump, it is best not to straddle them but to drive with one wheel on and one wheel off it.

But also changing the rims to a smaller size and going with larger profile tires.

Related: 6 BMW Run-Flat Tires Problems

What Are MOE Tires?

MOE stands for Mercedes Original Extended tires. These tires are designed as a compromise between tubeless and standard run-flat tires.

They have less stiff sidewalls and will allow you to drive them for 20 miles at speed up to 50mph when they are flat, as opposed to the expected 50 miles.

This decreased driving distance is a small price to pay for lower tread wear and improved ride and handling quality.

In reality, it is extremely unlikely that you have a flat tire more than 20 miles away from some mechanic.

Final Thoughts

Mercedes vehicles are known for their comfort and excellent engineering. They are also renowned for their decent reliability.

Part of this can be run-flat tires serving the purpose of preventing you from being stranded in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire.

But this type of tire comes with specific problems, characteristic of Mercedes vehicles.

Some of the most common issues that can occur if you have a set of Mercedes run-flat tires are:

  • Tread Wear
  • Poor Ride Quality
  • Price of Replacement
  • Failure of The Inner Sidewall

And solving them can be an act of calculated balance between peace of mind on one side and comfort and finances on the other side.

Sources

https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/askhj/answer/63304/continental-run-flat-tyre-failure-on-mercedes

https://mbworld.org/forums/e-class-w213/713483-has-anyone-replaced-their-run-flats-non-run-flat-tires.html

https://www.autosofdallas.com/blog/how-to-use-mercedes-benz-dynamic-select-drive-modes/

https://www.mercedes-benz-performance.ca/service/service-tips/mercedes-benz-recommended-tires/