Does the Bridgestone DriveGuard run-flat tire live up to its all season promise?

This new replacement all-season tire can add run-flat protection to cars

Published: September 24, 2014 05:30 PM

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A leader in run-flat tire technology and an original-equipment supplier to automakers, Bridgestone is now turning its attention to the replacement market with a new run-flat called DriveGuard, an all-season tire intended to replace regular tires.

Today's run-flats have thick, stiff sidewalls to support the load of a car without air. This self-supporting technology typically allows you to drive 50 miles at no more than 50 mph, giving most drivers uninterrupted travel to a service station or to their final destination. Previous run-flat tires were often criticized for producing a harsh ride and fast wear. While later generations have generally overcome those pitfalls, model choices are limited and it could take a long time get replacements.

Goodyear tried selling run-flat tires to the masses in the 1990s, but those tires were expensive, rough riding, and didn't work well in some vehicle applications. Plus, they required aftermarket tire-pressure-monitoring sensors to alert drivers when a tire was going flat.

Bridgestone might have an easier time gaining consumer acceptance today, as all new cars now come with a TPMS and the run-flat concept is more widely understood. Bridgestone is limiting the DriveGuard application to mostly cars, rather than minivans or SUVs, which tend to use taller aspect ratio tires.

Read our Best tire sealant to fix a flat tire for an alternative roadside solution to pricey run-flat tires.

Eager to find out whether these new tires are any good, we bought a set to evaluate. The DriveGuard is competitively priced to conventional tires; it currently sells for about $131 in our test size, only $11 more than a conventional Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus model. We mounted the DriveGuard tires on regular wheels with no problem and installed them on our 2010 Chevrolet Cruze for driving impressions.

Aside from some stiff jolts over large road joints and potholes, the ride is typically controlled and compliant and not much different than with conventional tires. Handling seems secure, but the imprecise steering feel on our Cruze suggested DriveGuard is not intended for performance driving.

We deflated one of the tires on the car to see how the run-flat technology performed. We're glad to say that driving on either a deflated front or rear tire was uneventful; the most noticeable hint was the rumble when cornering hard on the flat tire, which was enough for us to back off. In all, the tire worked well and seems like the perfect choice for anyone who doesn't want to change a tire on the side of the road.  

Stay tuned for a full all-weather performance test on the DriveGuard all-season tire this coming year.

—Gene Petersen

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