Run-flat tires have been a popular option on passenger cars for years now. But just when everybody got comfortable, Michelin threw a set of self-sealing tires into the mix on the new 2020 Ford Explorer.
Ford announced Tuesday that the 2020 Explorer will be the first car to come with Michelin Selfseal tires. Standard on the Platinum and Limited Hybrid trims with four-wheel drive, the tires are also available on Limited 2WD and 4WD models for some extra scratch.
The clever bit hides inside the tire. The tires contain a natural rubber sealant, which can either surround an embedded object or patch a hole that an object leaves behind. In terms of punctures, Ford says the Selfseal tire can seal 90 percent of tread punctures up to 0.25 inches in diameter.
It's not a perfect seal, though -- it only reduces air pressure loss to less than 15 psi per week. In short, it's enough to get you off the highway and to a tire facility, but not enough to let you continue the remainder of your road trip. Furthermore, this only works with tread punctures -- if you get a nail in the sidewall, or the sidewall is slashed through, the tires can't do anything about that. Worse comes to worse, the 2020 Explorer still has a spare tire.
Michelin's Selfseal tech is radically different than the run-flat tires you might be familiar with. Some run-flat tires use reinforced sidewalls that can handle the vehicle's weight when tire pressure drops, whereas other run-flat tires may contain a physical ring made of rubber or another material that then supports the vehicle after the tire deflates.
Both types of tire may have the same goal -- getting you off the road in a safe way -- but they take fundamentally different approaches to that goal.