2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo: Screw in the Tire
August 04, 2014
Someone on staff has great aim. For the second time in just a few weeks, I hopped into a car with a low tire-pressure-warning light and a screw in the tire. The victim this week was one of the rear Pirelli run-flats affixed to our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo.
No warning light on Friday night when I drove the 328i my sub 10-mile commute, but on Saturday AM, there it was. Since BMW is content with just a dummy light and gives no actual PSI readout, I resorted to the trusty manual tire-pressure gauges which confirmed that we were low. The tire was hovering at 25 psi when 35 is required by the sticker on the door jamb. To me, this says slow leak and not doing much/any damage to the run-flat system.
Instead of pushing it in any ways, I drove straight to the tire shop. Not exactly the way I like to spend my Saturday mornings, but the guys at Stokes Tire Pros here in Santa Monica aren't a bad group. Plus, they would fix my tire.
Car on lift. Drats, it's dangerously close to the sidewall. Wheel off tire. Tire off wheel. Drats, it's too close to be repaired reliably. (Pirelli doesn't prohibit patching/plugging their run-flats, but advise against it.)
Ok. We'll take a new tire.
No dice. None in stock. None at the warehouse.
Ok. I'll walk over to the BMW shop next door. A Pirelli Cintuarato P7 in 225/50R18 has gotta be a common size. They'll have one in stock.
Ok. I'll call every single BMW and tire shop within 50 miles. Someone will have one.
Nope. Everyone would have to order one. I got time estimates of 5 days to two weeks.
Stokes says they can get one from Pirelli by Tuesday. They put on a patch that they say won't last. It's got run-flats and I'm only going to drive it 20 miles. If it fails, it fails.
Tuesday rolls around and the tire shows up. It costs $339.95 installed and ran up another $36.30 in sales tax and fees. Thanks, California.
Run-flats are great. They've saved my butt more than a few times letting me get to a safe spot or a tire shop. Run-flats aren't great when you don't have a spare, too. Let's try to stretch and imagine a world where I don't live very, very close to the office and have the flexibility to skip out on coming to the office on Monday due to a tire issue. Let's try to then imagine that world where I don't have a working tire for four days.
Long live the full-size spare.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor @ 13,868 miles