Remember those old days when we changed the tires on our vehicles when they got punctured? Okay, I exaggerated a bit – almost everyone is still doing that. But what if I tell you that there are tires that can still roll even after being punctured? Run flat tires are nothing new in the automotive world, but they are still not as popular as normal tires.
There are several reasons for that, but chiefly they cost a bit more than normal tires and have worse ride comfort. See, run-flat tires can keep their shape due to the much stronger sidewalls and can be driven around 50 miles at a maximum speed of 50 mph without any air in the tire. That same strong sidewalls have a detrimental effect to comfort. Trust me, the ride will be much stiffer, especially if your vehicle has a sportier suspension.
Still, a lot of vehicle owners are ready to accept the worse ride quality for the convenience run flat tires offer. If you are one of them, I’ve compiled a list of the best run flat tires out there to help you with choosing the best set for your vehicle. The tires on this list must offer great performance, but more importantly, offer the best possible ride quality.
That said, the choice of run-flats is still limited at this point and most manufacturers only make them specifically for some higher-end vehicles, sports cars or supercars.
Top 10 Best Run Flat Tires
Bridgestone DriveGuard Run-Flat
Best grand-touring run-flat tire
If you want a tire that will be both comfortable and quiet, and can roll even when punctured, there is no better one than the Bridgestone DriveGuard. This is the most popular run-flat tire on the market right now, and it is even the most used run-flat tire as original equipment for new vehicles. Bridgestone designed this tire especially with comfort in mind, which is why it sits on the first place of this list.
In my testing, the tire proved to be almost as comfortable as a normal grand-touring tire. It is also very quiet on the highway. This makes it the best choice for owners of family sedans, minivans and SUVs, or in other words vehicles that you will transport your family in. Despite being supremely comfortable, the DriveGuard still offers 50 miles of range at speed up to 50 mph when punctured.
The Bridgestone DriveGuard is also very good in the performance department. While it may not dethrone summer tires in dry conditions, it still offers acceptable levels of grip and traction and responsive enough handling. Wet traction is also very good, and resistance to hydroplaning is top-notch. Even though this is an all-season tire, I think that you’d be better off with a winter tire when the temperatures are near freezing, and especially in snow conditions.
The Bridgestone DriveGuard is also very durable – the manufacturer gives 60.000-mile tread warranty, which is one of the best in the class.
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus ZP
Best run-flat tire for owners of high-performance vehicles
If you are one of the more aggressive drivers or own a performance vehicle, the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus ZP is the best run-flat choice. The reason why it is on the second place here is the very high asking price, worse durability and the reason that it’s available only in bigger sizes.
That said, if you want the best possible performance in a run-flat tire, this is the one. The Pilot Sport A/S Plus ZP offers amazing grip in dry conditions, precise and responsive handling, and high levels of traction. Performance in the wet is also excellent, both in light and heavy rain. Even though it is an all-season tire, the Pilot Sport A/S Plus ZP is only marginal in winter conditions, especially in the snow.
Michelin doesn’t specify how many miles you can drive when the tire is out of air, which is a shame. It does specify the treadlife warranty at 30.000-mile, which is a good result for ultra-high-performance tire, but still not on the level of the grand-touring Bridgestone that sits on the first place on this list. Still, owners of sports cars already know that high-performance tires don’t last as long as others and this should not be a problem.
Bridgestone Blizzak LM-25 RFT
Best winter run-flat tire
Bridgestone are best-known for their run-flat technology and that really shows in this lineup – this is their second entry. They are also known for their amazing Blizzak winter tires, which offer absolutely the best snow traction of any tire in its class. The LM-25 RFT is no exception to this rule – competitors lag greatly when it comes to driving in the snow.
The Blizzak LM-25 RFT is also great in cold conditions, dry or wet. Many car manufacturers recommend it for sports vehicles and the tire is specifically designed for use on the Nissan GT-R and BMW vehicles. In my testing, it proved to be excellent in all winter conditions. It resists hydroplaning like a champ, which means that it will easily tackle slush and rain.
All of this is achieved thanks to the independent block tread design with the Lamellen edge effect, design choices that bring the Blizzak LM-25 RT closer to tires with metal studs when it comes to snow traction. Bridgestone’s UNI-T brings all high-end technologies together for an innovative tire that’s one of the most advanced on the market right now.
Bridgestone doesn’t give details on how long will this tire last without any air, and it doesn’t give treadlife warranty. Still, according to a lot of users, it is one of the most durable winter tires out there and I have no reason not to believe them.
Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval RFT
Another ultra-high-performance offering, the Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval RT comes at a lower price than other tires in this category. Despite that, it still offers great performance and is a great choice for owners of sports cars, like the Chevrolet Corvette C6 which was specifically designed for.
It is made out of exotic materials that Firestone calls Long Link Carbon, O-Bead design that gives the tire rounder structure, and CO-CS computer optimized component system used in the design and manufacturing process.
Firestone focused on delivering the best possible performance with this tire, and not comfort. That’s why, some car owners find it too loud and not smooth enough over bumps, but I think this is not a big downside, especially when installed on super loud vehicles such as the Corvette.
The focus on performance really paid its dividends in aggressive driving. The Firehawk Wide Oval RT offers precise handling like the best tires out there in dry conditions and it feels very responsive in tighter turns. The grip is excellent, stopping distances are very short, and the tire is very controllable at the limit.
The same can be said for driving in the wet. In light rain, traction is admirable and stopping distances short, while in heavy rain the directional tread pattern helps for better resistance of hydroplaning. The Firehawk Wide Oval RT is also very resistant to tread wear, especially for an ultra-high-performance tire.
Continental ContiProContact SSR (Self Supporting Runflat)
Continental is one of the first tire makers that started producing run-flat tires, which they call SSR. Like every other run-flat tire, this one can also travel for up to 50 miles without any pressure inside, up to a speed of 50 mph, even though Continental says it is only a MOExtended tire.
It features an all-season tread compound molded into a symmetric notched-rib tread design for continuous tread contact and wide circumferential grooves for better wet traction and resistance to hydroplaning. Pretty standard stuff here. Being a grand-touring tire, the Continental also promises less noise and better comfort.
The ContiProContact SSR really does offer great performance on the road. Handling is one of the best in the grand-touring run-flat class, with precision and responsiveness that I’ve come to expect only from high-performance tires. Wet traction is a bit worse, but still near the top of the class. Continental says that this tire works in light snow as well, but I would still only use winter tires in those circumstances.
Compared to other run-flat or MOE tires, the Continental is one of the most comfortable over bumps, and it doesn’t produce a lot of noise on the motorway. Like every other Conti tire, this one is also very durable – the manufacturer gives unbeatable 80.000-mile treadlife warranty.
Goodyear Eagle LS-2 RunOnFlat
Another all-season entry on this list, this time a grand-touring one. In other words, a tire that should offer excellent comfort and durability. However, there is a small catch – this is not a real run-flat tire. It falls into the MOExtended category, which means that it will still drive without any pressure, but not up to the speed of a real run-flat tire and certainly not up to the same distance. Still, I thought that it would be great to include it here because it costs much less than run-flat tires while offering some unique abilities.
Those unique abilities are a comfortable ride over bumps and quietness, both very good for a tire that can ride without any air inside. Other than being comfortable, the Eagle LS-2 RunOnFlat offers very good performance both in wet and dry weather, with good handling ability, traction and stopping power. Of course, high-performance tires are much better in this regard, but Goodyear didn’t even try to create a tire for performance driving here.
Winter performance is admirable for an all-season tire, but only in light snow. You should avoid using this tire in heavy snow as it quickly loses traction. Winter tires are a much better bet, and I’ve included run-flat ones in this list for that particular reason.
Bridgestone Potenza RE050A Pole Position RFT
The Potenza family of Bridgestone tires is known for its high-tech features and excellent performance, so it’s perfectly normal that I’ll include one in my list, even though there’s already an entry from the company. And I’ll be perfectly honest here, I have always had a great relationship with these tires – they are good both on the track and on the road, in dry or wet conditions.
The Potenza RE050A Pole Position RFT is the run-flat offering in the family, providing the driver with up to 50 miles driven without any air in the tire, of course, if you don’t drive above 50 mph. It is absolutely amazing when driven aggressively – it sticks to the road like glue, it is responsive and precise, it gives a lot of feedback through the steering wheel, and on top of that, it brakes very well. Wet traction is also excellent, both in light and heavy rain. If it wasn’t obvious by now, this is a summer tire and shouldn’t be used in the winter, especially in the snow.
Not everything is positive with the Potenza RE050A Pole Position RFT – some may find it too harsh in urban driving, and it is neither the quietest run-flat tire out there.
Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 Run Flat
When people think of high-performance tires, they often think of summer tires. Truth is, there are other types of high-performance tires. Take the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 Run Flat – a winter tire that can also satisfy the kid in you. This tire is specifically designed to offer great performance in cold driving scenarios, while also giving run-flat peace of mind.
The reason why it’s on this list is that the performance it offers in cold weather is sublime. The handling is very precise and responsive – the tire immediately reacts to your steering input. The grip is excellent too – the specialized polymers used in the rubber compound certainly help here, while also improving stopping power.
But wait, that’s not all! The Sottozero 3 Run Flat also offers great performance in the snow and on ice. Traction is excellent, braking is powerful and handling is predictable. What more do you want in the winter? Well, some may want better comfort over bumps – this is not the worse run-flat tire in this area, but it’s far from the best, to be honest. Noise can also be tiring at higher speeds.
Pirelli says that this tire can drive up to 50 miles without any pressure inside, at speeds up to 50 mph. This is on par with other run-flat offerings.
Hankook Ventus S1 EVO2 HRS
If you’re in the market for a run-flat tire, but can’t pay the astronomic prices of the premium tires, the Hankook Ventus S1 EVO2 HRS might be a very good option. This is an ultra-high-performance run-flat tire intended for use on sports sedans and sports coupes. It can roll for up to 50 miles without any air in it, at a maximum speed of 50 mph. Its biggest advantage over the rivals seems to be the price, but this Hankook still has some other tricks up its sleeve.
Mainly, handling is very good for the price you pay. Sure, responsiveness is not like in the best high-performance tires out there, but on the road, it will be very hard to notice the difference. For the casual driver, the Ventus S1 EVO2 HRS is grippy enough so that you might never experience tire squeal, and it’s also responsive enough for fun driving. Wet traction is also very good, both in heavy and light rain. That said, this tire shouldn’t be used in the winter – it is a summer tire first and foremost.
The durability of the Hankook Ventus S1 EVO2 HRS is not at the level of the best run-flat tires out there, especially when driven hard on the track. Still, it is not much worse – you can still easily get around 20.000-miles out of them.
Yokohama ADVAN Sport ZPS (Zero Pressure System)
The last place on this list goes to the Yokohama ADVAN Sport ZPS, a max-performance summer tire that’s specifically developed for owners of sports sedans and sports coupes. Like almost every other tire on this list, it can travel for up to 50 miles without any pressure, and to speeds of up to 50 mph. Pretty standard stuff up to this moment, so does the ADVAN Sport ZPS has something else to offer?
It surely does. It’s not the best max-performance tire out there, but it comes very close to the best when it comes to handling abilities. Dry handling is tight and responsive, stopping power is among the best in the class and grip is excellent too. In the wet traction is very good too, thanks to the four wide circumferential grooves for hydroplaning resistance and the silica-based tread compound. Interestingly, Yokohama says that the same compound is less affected by lower temperatures. This still doesn’t mean that you should use it in the winter – it just means that performance will not degrade as quickly. As an example, take spring weather here. Treadlife is also pretty long for a performance tire.
One of the biggest advantages of the ADVAN Sport ZPS is the price, which is lower than premium competitors.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Can I install run-flat tires on any vehicle or rim?
While it is technically possible to install run-flat tires on vehicles on any rim, it is recommended that the vehicle was originally equipped with this kind of tires and rims with ring support. It is also recommended that the vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system. The reason for that is that the driver knows when the tire is out of pressure, something that’s not as easily felt in a run-flat tire.
- Can run-flat tires be repaired?
Like every other tire, they can get repaired too, but it takes a little bit more effort than with a normal tire. Make sure that the tire service you are visiting has the proper equipment to repair run-flat tires in case of a puncture. The same can be said when the time comes for changing the tire, as different equipment is used for run-flats.
- Are run-flat tires safer?
For everyday driving, normal tires still offer benefits in grip and traction, even though in recent years they are very small. However, in case of a puncture or a blowout, the run-flat tire still offers enough traction for easy control of the vehicle, while normal tires don’t offer any traction when they lose pressure. One other big benefit of run-flats is that you don’t need to change them in dangerous conditions in case of a puncture of a blowout. So yes, overall run-flat tires may be a bit safer.
- How long run-flat tires last?
It is generally accepted that the tread of run-flat tires lasts as long as their normal counterparts. In other words, a summer run-flat tire will last as long as a normal summer tire, and the same can be said for all-season tires and winter tires. As with every tire, check the treadlife warranty to have a better understanding of how long will that particular model last.
- Are there any alternatives to run-flat tires?
Sure! They are called self-sealing tires. This type is more akin to a normal tire with a sealant inside that seals the puncture in just a few seconds. Self-sealing tires offer even longer mileage after a puncture and are generally more comfortable. That said, they can handle only smaller punctures – big punctures can still cause a big pressure loss. Also, they are not widely available at this moment and you may not find the size you want for your car.
One other alternative is sealant. This works the same way as self-sealing tires, but with normal tires. You just need to insert the sealant into the tire and in case of a puncture, it will seal it in seconds. Most new vehicles today are equipped with sealant instead of a spare tire.
How do Run-Flat Tires Work?
I really hope that by now you really understood all the advantages and disadvantages of run-flat tires to get the best ones. Sure, they are convenient in case of emergency, but a normal tire is still better performance-wise and especially in the comfort department. The price of run-flat tires is also much higher, so take that into account too. Whichever best run flat tires you choose, be sure that you rotate them every 5.000-8.000 miles to keep them in good shape for longer.