On Guard: why the misery of stopping for a puncture may be over
Bridgestone recently rolled out its new runflat Drive Guard tyre for the European market.
Until now, runflat tyres have only been fitted to a limited number of wheels with specific dimensions and where manufacturers chose them as original equipment (OE).
Runflats, as you know, are designed to retain enough rigidity to safely reach a service centre in the event of a puncture.
Now with the potential to fit Drive Guard to 36 million new vehicles globally this year, the tyre-maker is hopeful of much better things.
The new tyre is designed to reduce the impact of punctures without affecting handling or wet-weather performance.
Figures they provided us with suggested that 60pc of drivers they surveyed had a puncture in the previous four years - 25pc at night and 50pc of those at 'inconvenient' locations. Most (93pc) lost three hours as a result of the puncture.
Anyway, a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) has to be a standard feature on all new cars as it alerts when tyre pressure drops. When that happens with Drive Guard you can travel 80km at 80kmh without any pressure at all.
Our test car was intentionally punctured between the side wall and the tread and then we were taken in convoy for a short test drive. The car's handling quite obviously felt different but it was eminently manageable as well as reassuring we were not doing any damage to our wheels. The tyres are made from Bridgestone's NanoPro-Tech Sidewall reinforced rubber compound. That basically means a sudden loss of pressure shouldn't destabilise the vehicle.
This new move from Bridgestone seems like a concerted effort to stick to their guns with run flats, while expanding their customer base. In an effort to save weight, manufacturers are increasingly removing spare tyres from their vehicles. Drive Guard might just be the solution to the 'gun and gunk, self inflation kits' that so many of us are left with using.