We are living in an age when you can literally drive your car with a flat tire, provided you have run-flat tires. Obviously, this is something that completely changes the comfort of driving our vehicles. Instead of replacing a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, you can drive to the nearest tire repair mechanic, without even getting out of your car.
Bridgestone, the largest tire manufacturer in the world, is also the pioneer when it comes to run-flat tires. They invented this technology in 1987 for the Porsche 959. That car was able to attack both tarmac and rally courses, which is why it was imperative to have tires that could be driven without any pressure in them.
Nonetheless, run-flat tires have some apparent disadvantages that tire manufacturers are still figuring out. The main one is comfort – due to the stiffer sidewalls, run-flat tires have much worse ride quality than regular tires with softer sidewalls.
Today, as expected, Bridgestone is at the forefront when it comes to run-flat tires. The Bridgestone DriveGuard is their grand-touring model made for compact cars, mid-size sedans, sports sedans, and crossovers.
Apart from other run-flat models available on the market, the DriveGuard is interestingly designed for owners of vehicles that don’t initially have such tires. Sure, you will also need to purchase new wheels that can accept these wheels, but having the option is always great.
Furthermore, Bridgestone designed the DriveGuard to offer better ride quality than all other run-flat options. That is one of the things that we will try to discover in our Bridgestone DriveGuard review, mainly because all other run-flat tires we tried before were lacking in this department.
Of course, we won’t be talking only about comfort in this Bridgestone DriveGuard review. We will cover other aspects of the tire, including traction and grip on dry and wet surfaces, quietness, durability, and snow performance.
With that said, let’s first see what Bridgestone has to say about their prime run-flat offering and then dig into our side of the review.
What are the features of the Bridgestone DriveGuard?
According to Bridgestone, the DriveGuard tires are specially engineered to take a punch, or more accurately, a puncture. The manufacturer recommends driving without any pressure in these run-flat tires only up to 50 miles and at speeds of up to 50 mph.
That is because, despite the stiffer sidewalls, run-flat tires won’t give the driver the same stability, traction, and grip without any pressure inside. In other words, you should still be driving carefully. Other tire manufacturers also recommend the same speed and distance – 50 mph and 50 miles is a standard among run-flat tires.
But, let’s go into more detail. The Bridgestone DriveGuard features the latest run-flat technology from the company. With the newest tech, Bridgestone’s focus was on delivering maximum ride comfort, without sacrificing the extended mobility when the tire is flat. That is something that almost no other tire manages to achieve, especially on larger wheels and tires with lower sidewalls.
Bridgestone managed to do that by employing several new technologies. Like previous run-flat tires, the DriveGuard has an internal structure with twin steel belts reinforced by spirally wrapped nylon on top of a rayon cord casing and reinforced sidewalls that can carry the weight of the vehicle even without any pressure inside the tire. However, the DriveGuard additionally employs NanoPro-Tech Sidewall technology, which is a reinforced rubber compound that’s molded directly into the sidewalls in a “Cooling Fin Design.”
This design has several benefits when compared to previous ones. The first and most obvious one is the improvement in comfort – the rubber compound with such design can flex more efficiently, which should improve ride quality. Then, the lighter-weight construction should improve overall performance. Older run-flat models were much heavier than regular tires.
Apart from the run-flat part, the DriveGuard is engineered to cover the needs of most drivers around the world. It is an all-season grand-touring tire, which means that it can be used in various weather conditions. According to the company, the DriveGuard provides year-round flexibility by offering predictable handling in most circumstances, including dry roads, wet roads, and snow.
To achieve all these things, Bridgestone molded the DriveGuard from a silica-enhanced all-season tread compound that focuses on all-weather traction, and high-speed cornering stability, and long wear. The compound is actually similar to other Bridgestone tires, which already fared very well in our reviews.
The tread compound is molded into an asymmetric tread pattern with circumferential and cross grooves. This design should greatly help water evacuation for increased hydroplaning resistance. Moreover, Bridgestone increased the number of biting edges when compared to previous models, a decision that improves wet traction and handling, as well as snow traction.
What are the maintenance indicators?
The DriveGuard has the usual indicator bars built into the tread pattern, which help the owner track how much tread there is left on the tire. These indicators can’t be seen when the tire is new (only if you scrutinize the tire), but become visible as the tread wears down.
Like most tires, the minimum tread on Bridgestone DriveGuard tires is 2/32 inch. When the tread is worn-down to this value, the indicator bars will be completely flush with the surface of the tread. You should replace your tires immediately when this happens, or otherwise, you risk severely limited wet and snow performance.
When it comes to durability, fortunately, you’ll be using the DriveGuard for a very long time. This model comes with a 5 Years / 60,000-miles treadwear warranty (H-, V-, T-Speed Rated Models), or 50,000-miles (W-Speed Rated Models), which is the best result for any run-flat-tire. Sure, you can get even more from standard grand-touring tires, but this is an excellent result considering the category.
Owners of the Bridgestone DriveGuard are also pleased with how much these tires last. Nonetheless, we should wait a few more years to draw final conclusions.
How does it behave on dry tarmac?
The DriveGuard is primarily designed for comfort. Nonetheless, Bridgestone made this tire available in larger sizes that can fit sports sedans and executive sedans, both of which usually come with powerful turbocharged four-cylinder or six-cylinder engines. So, having excellent performance should be expected.
With that said, the DriveGuard isn’t the best tire for handling out there. In our Bridgestone DriveGuard review testing, it lacked ultimate responsiveness, and it didn’t handle fast corners very well. Suffice to say, if you require the ultimate handling, these tires aren’t for you.
However, for normal everyday driving, the DriveGuard is more than good enough. On dry roads, traction and braking are excellent, on-par with the best grand-touring tires on the market right now. Cornering grip is also sufficient for spirited driving, provided you don’t drive on the limit all the time.
How is it over wet and slippery roads?
When it comes to wet performance, we think that the DriveGuard is the new champion among grand-touring run-flat tires. This tire handles slightly wet tarmac exceptionally well, which is a testament of how far tread compound material technology has come. Furthermore, the DriveGuard is a champion when it comes to driving in heavy rain – the hydroplaning resistance is outstanding, while braking is top-notch.
With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?
Snow traction is something that many all-season tires brag about, but don’t achieve in the real world. The DriveGuard is somewhere between – Bridgestone boasts about the increased number of biting edges, which should improve snow traction, but in the real world, the tire is only adequate.
In other words, you shouldn’t expect outstanding snow traction and braking. Light snow shouldn’t be an issue for the DriveGuard, but you should still drive carefully. Heavy snow or ice are a no go – this tire isn’t prepared for severe wintry conditions.
Suffice to say, if you live in areas with harsh weather in the winter, we strongly recommend replacing these tires with a set of winter ones.
Is it comfortable and refined?
The most significant issue with most run-flat tires is the severely worsened ride quality. Fortunately, though, Bridgestone seems to have finally addressed the issue properly – the DriveGuard rides almost like a regular tire.
Yes, you can still notice more vibrations on uneven surfaces, but the differences are minimal. When it comes to run-flat tires, this is as good as it gets.
Noise is also very well-suppressed. Bridgestone already has some whisper-quiet tires in its range, like the Turanza QuietTrack, and the DriveGuard seems to follow the same path.
Overall, we were pleased with how this tire handled comfort in our testing.
You can see more Bridgestone DriveGuard Review here: videos created by Tire Rack
Should I buy the Bridgestone DriveGuard?
The short answer is: yes, you should buy the Bridgestone DriveGuard. Right now, this is by far the most comfortable run-flat tire on the market, and also a tranquil one. Bridgestone solved the ride quality on this tire, and we wholeheartedly recommend it if you are in the market for run-flat tires.
That said, if you don’t care about run-flat tires, regular grand-touring tires will be even more comfortable, and offer slightly better performance. But we won’t get into that decision – it is only yours to make.
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