Why There's More to Your New Tyres Than Meets the Eye

21 September 2016
 Categories: , Blog

Did you know that the tyres on your car are the most complex component when it comes to their engineering and composition? You could be forgiven if thinking that they are simply elements of moulded rubber, but they are, in fact, composed of many different materials. It pays to have a reasonable understanding of just how a tyre has been designed and how it works, both to make you a better driver and to help you make sure that those four shiny new covers last a bit longer.

What the Designers Have to Think about

When they are on the drawing board, tyre designers focus principally on what is known as the "contact patch." As it suggests, this is the relatively small part of the tyre itself that is in contact with the road at any one moment. It is about the size of your hand in comparison. As different tyres are designed for different environments, then each tyre has different design characteristics built into its patch. For example, will the driver require high-performance or general touring experience? Is longer wear more important than performance? Is reduced road noise high on the list of criteria, or is it particularly important that the tyre fares well in very wet conditions? The answer to each of these questions will determine the composition of the materials and the design and pattern of the tyre for your car.

Modern-Day Solutions

It used to be the case that a compromise solution was very difficult to find. In the old days, a performance tyre was only really good for performance and a long-lasting cover was just that. In other words, grip and wear were diametrically opposite. If you wanted a tyre with a lot of adhesion you simply had to have a soft tread compound. In this situation, this tyre wouldn't last very long. However today, tyre makers have lessened these variables to such a degree that each tyre ticks all the boxes in terms of performance and wear equally, no matter how specifically it was designed.

What's in the Make-Up?

A tyre is composed of many different elements. Some of these are obvious to drivers, such as the tread which contacts the road, helps to divert rainwater and prevent the car from aquaplaning. Underneath the tread are toughened "belts" with metal inserts to stabilise the tread and stop it moving around unnecessarily. The sidewalls of the tyre may look innocuous, but they are toughened in order to protect it from any impact with the roadside curbs. Where the tyre is mounted onto the wheel there are special "beads" to make the connection strong even under tremendous pressure. The "ply" helps to define the shape of the tyre, or its overall structure, while the proper inflation is maintained within an inter-liner which sits inside the tyre.