DriveGuard Tires – Everything you Need to Know

driveguard

If you’ve visited a Firestone auto repair center or one of their subsidiary Tire stores (Wheel Works, Tires Plus, etc.) one of the service advisers probably told you about Bridgestone’s new DriveGuard tires.  Bridgestone has made the claim DriveGuard is the first full line of mass-market replacement run flat tires available for regular cars.  That means non-Luxury in case you are not aware. 🙂

What are Run Flat Tires?

Run flat tires allow a driver to keep driving when they get a puncture in the tread of their tire.  Punctures usually occur when your tire picks-up a nail or screw on the road.  It can start to loose air slowly but most of the time you will probably hear the tire loosing air and it will be a major time suck in your day when you get out of your car and start swearing.

If you get a puncture and start to loose air in a run flat tire, a dash warning light is triggered by the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) in the vehicle dashboard.  This alerts the driver that you have a low tire.  Run flat tires have stiffer sidewalls which prevent the sidewall of your tire from collapsing even if they loose air pressure.  This allows you to drive to a tire shop or auto repair shop nearby to get a new run flat.

Why should I buy run flats?

A poll, obviously conducted by Bridgstone, that surveyed 2,800 U.S. drivers age 18 years of age and older showed that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of drivers have experienced a flat tire, and 61 percent said this would really suck and ruin their day.

Based on the survey, 60 percent of people say they know how to change a flat tire however 64 percent of them would still call a roadside assistance service or friend for help. Women drivers are more than twice as likely to call for help as men (86 percent versus 41 percent), with only 14 percent of women saying they would change a flat tire themselves.  Whereas 59 percent say they would change a flat tire.

Considering that most people don’t check their spare tire for proper inflation… ever and a lot of new cars don’t come with a spare tire these days, run flat tires look like an attractive option.

What are run DriveGuard tires?

This is Bridgestone’s new line of run flat tires aimed at the mass consumer market.  Essentially this means that these run flats are available on Toyotas, Hondas, Mazdas, etc.  Usually run flat tires only come factory equipped on luxury vehicles or high end sports car.

DriveGuard tires give “normal people” the ability to continue driving up to 50 miles, or 80 kilometers, at 50 miles per hour if a puncture or loss of pressure should happen on any of your Bridgestone DriveGuard tires.

How do DriveGuard tires work?

Here are some videos detailing how they work.

DriveGuard Overview

DriveGuard – Run Flat Technology

DriveGuard – Cooling Fins

DriveGuard – NanoPro

Looks convenient, Can I get DriveGuard tires installed on my car?

DriveGuard tires can be equipped on coupes, sedans, wagons, and hatchbacks.

Bridgestone does not offer them on SUVs, crossovers, minivans, vans or trucks… yet.  Also if your car is built pre-2008 and not equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which is that annoying light that indicates that your tire pressure is low, than you can’t get DriveGuard tires installed.  The reason?  With stiffer sidewalls that are designed to run for 50 miles at 50 mph it’s hard to know if the tire is low by just looking at it.  You need some sort of sensor to inform you that it is low.  I’m sure this gets ignored by a lot of people though.

DriveGuards come with a 50,000 (80,000 kilometers) to 60,000 (100,000 kilometers) mileage treadwear warranty and are available in 32 t, 15” to 19” rim diameters and 35 to 65 series.

Currently DriveGuard tires are only available in the United States and Canada.

How much are DriveGuard tires?

TireRack, where I’d order tires from, has all available sizes of DriveGuard tires in stock form what I can tell.  The smallest size on TireRack was $109 per tire and the largest size was $266 which is inline with what regular tires cost on the market.

Getting tires installed usually costs around $15-$25 per tire.  Likely it will vary by what state and city you live in and there could be miscellaneous fees like they have like tax and tire disposal.  TireRack can drop ship tires to a shop of your choice so you don’t have to lug them around in your car if you want.

Would you get DriveGuard Tires installed on your car?

I have heard complaints from people who have run flat tires on their cars.  They say the ride is not as comfortable, since they have a stiffer sidewall.  In addition the tires wear quicker and are generally more expensive than non-run flat tires to replace.

Bridgestone claims these new DriveGuard tires deliver a better experience that is more quiet, comfortable ride you’d want from your tires.  Also as stated above DriveGuards are not that much more expensive than normal tires.

Granted I haven’t driven any cars equipped with DriveGuard tires and I don’t currently own any cars that have TPMS.  (Hey my non-TPMS Honda Accord still runs great.)  So even if I wanted to run out and buy DriveGuard tires or another brand of run flat tires, I couldn’t.

Final Thoughts on DriveGuard tires

Bridgestone hasn’t offered to let me try out DriveGuards against regular tires so I couldn’t say for certain if they are good or not.  I wouldn’t mind trying them out for 1-2 weeks if I got a chance.

If you have DriveGuard tires installed on your car, do you like them?  How is the ride and comfort?  If you are considering getting some installed leave a question below and I will try to answer as best I can.

Changing a Flat Tire “Foot Trick”

Have you ever been stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire? Found it impossible to loosen the lug nuts?  My brother actually had a flat tire a few weeks ago at my house.  I saw him trying to loosen the lug nuts by hand!  I started chuckling, and contemplated whether I should let him in on a little trick.

Well I’ll let you know a good trick and old mechanic showed me. Instead of using your arms, which I’m sure you know is difficult, use your leg strength to loosen the lug nuts. It’s something that’s simple, but not something you would have thought of unless someone showed you how to do it. Consider lug nuts have about 80-120 foot-pounds of torque on them. Unless you have Herculean strength in your arms, I’m sure you’ve never felt like you can get those lug nuts loose. The “Foot Trick” will help loosen them quickly, easily, and with minimal effort, After all your legs are strong.

To do this remember to go in the correct direction. (Rightie-Tightie, Leftie-Loosie!) Set you lug wrench as firmly and deeply onto the lug nut as you can. Carefully, quickly, and with force apply a good amount of pressure with the heel of your foot. It will be more effective, than using the toe or ball of your foot. (If you are wearing high-heels, maybe you should use your ball of your foot!) You should really only needed to loosen them a little bit. I’d suggest stomping hard 1 or 2 times, until you hear a loud crack or squeak noise. That means you’ve loosened them enough and from there you should be able to twist off the lug nut by hand. This is also a good technique to use when tightening your spare tire.

This “Foot Trick” will save you lots of time and effort when changing a flat. You also won’t have to wait for an auto service to come help you. Besides, it will feel great changing a flat tire yourself!

Valve Caps

Have you ever noticed that those “Little black things on your Tires” are missing?  Those are called Valve Caps.  Don’t they just magically seem to disappear?   I bet you’ve noticed your missing 1 or 2.  You keep driving around without replacing them, right?  You most likely don’t think it’s a problem, and is a small issue.

Although small, valve caps help protect the valve stems from debris and dirt.  If you don’t have valve caps on some tires, you’ll most likely notice those tires lose a little more air.  Usually all the debris and dirt hit the needle, gradually releasing air.  So it’s good to get them replaced if you are missing some.

Valve caps are available at all auto parts stores.  They are the same size on all tires, and are good to have handy.  Usually they are $1 for a pack of 4.  Sometimes I’ve seen them for $2-3, but I would check at another store.  You could always poach some from someones else’s tires!  Of course I can’t condone that!  That’s probably why I’m missing valve caps!

Checking Tire Pressure

I realized that many people might not even really know the proper way to check their Tires Pressure. 




  1. Check what the correct Tire Pressure is for your car, and ignore what it says on the Tires sidewall.  Those tolerances are usually the Maximum for what the Tires will tolerant, and not what the Tires should be inflated to.  There should be a sticker with The Correct PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) that will be located inside of the door or on or around the doojamb.  
  2. Touch your Tires with the back of you hand to see if they are hot.  If you’ve been driving obviously they will be, which most likely will give you an incorrect PSI reading.  Wait, a few minutes to let the Tires cool off.  It’s always good to check cold tires.  
  3. Use a Tire Gauge, and check to see if you Tires are inflated properly.  Make sure to push the Tire Gauge as straight as possible onto the Valve Stem.  Make sure to check the Tires Pressure at least 3 times!  Many times you will check once, but many factors could affect your readings.  You will get an inaccurate reading by not pushing in on the Valve Stem straight or correctly, and get a PSI reading that is wrong.  

     

  4. If you’ve determined the PSI in your Tires are too low, get out your Portable Air Compressor and pump your tires up.  Many Portable Air Compressors are have a Gauge right on them, but many tend to be inaccurate.  I’d suggested checking again with a Tire Gauge. 

 
5.  If you’ve determined the PSI in your Tires are too high, release some of the air by pushing in the needle for only 1 or 2 seconds.  It’s annoying to let out too much air, and then having to pump it up again.  Although if you have an Portable Air Compressor it’s not a problem!

If you don’t have a Tire Gauge, I recommend you go buy one at your local Auto Parts Store.  Pencil Gauges are only $1 are work fine for most people.  However, Pencil Gauges break quickly, and then can give bad readings.  Dial Gauges are around $5, but are more accurate and last longer.

Again, Don’t Check Hot Tires!  Think back to your 6th grade Science class.  Remember what the pictures of heated molecules looked like.  They were bouncing all over the place!  The same thing happens to your Tires if you’ve been driving for a long time.  The air gets hot inside, bouncing around all the air.  If you check Hot Tires you will get inaccurate readings!  It’s best to Check Tires Pressure in the morning when you haven’t driven on them.  If you don’t think this makes a difference… it does!  I’ve done tests myself.

I hope this helps you keep your Tires inflated properly!

Buy a Portable Air Compressor!

Portable Air Compressors are definitely worth $10-$30. Many Gas Stations will charge for using Air Pumps. If you are like most people, I assume you don’t carry quarters. (Definitely not enough to pump up your tires!) I also assume you hardly check how much Air is in your tires too. I’m I right? Yeah, most likely! It’s just to inconvenient to worry about!

If your tires are only a few psi low, your handling will be different. Handling in wet conditions will be even worse! A tire will lose .5 psi-1 psi every month of regular driving. Every 10*F change in Temperature will make your tires lose about 1 psi (usually happens when it gets colder.)

A Portable Air Compressor you keep in your trunk will not only save you the hassle, but time and money as well. Your tires will last a lot longer if you keep them properly inflated to the correct pressure.  The Fuel Efficiency of your car will also be much better with properly inflated Tires.  If you aren’t sure about the correct pressure, check inside the door or around the opening. Don’t follow what it says on the sidewall of your tires!

You can find Portable Air Compressors in big-box stores or a local Autoparts Stores.  Buy a Portable Air Compressor! Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Pictured below is my Portable Air Compressor.  I bought it at Target for $20, and it’s served my family and I well.  I’ve used it on all of the cars we have, including many people’s cars who needed some Air when they’ve stopped by.  I’ll always have one handy!