What It Took to Get You in the Driver’s Seat
It’s not a secret that our cars rely on tires to get us where we need to go. However, there’s a lot more to a tire than simply rubber meeting pavement. If you’ve ever wondered where the custom wheels and tires on your car gained their high-tech tread, then check out the evolution of car tire technologies.
Rubber Was the New Leather in 1845
When the concept of tires originally entered the scene in the 1300s, they were made of wood and leather. This made the ride smoother, but the leather wore away easily, which led to more maintenance for the driver. Fortunately, through many trials and errors, rubber replaced leather-bound wheels for a safer, more secure driving experience.
Vulcanized Rubber in 1845 Pushed Tire Tech Into the Future
American inventor, Charles Goodyear, and British inventor, Thomas Hancock, invented vulcanizing rubber in 1845, and turned the tire industry on its head. Not only did this process make tires easier to manufacture, because it made rubber less sticky, it also made tires more durable, too.
It Took 20 More Years to Tread Our Tires
Believe it or not, tires didn’t always come suited for your lifestyle and the specific vehicle you drive. In 1905, the first treads applied to tires strengthened them and allowed them to handle muddy roads and wet conditions. Treads also protect your tires from blowouts and damage.
By 1923, Firestone had improved upon the tall and thin tires of the past, and introduced balloon tires, which improved car handling and performance.
Natural Rubber Grows on Trees, but It’s Not Always Available
Did you know almost 90% of the world’s natural rubber is produced in Asia? Rubber comes from a specific tree that is super susceptible to disease, and these trees can only reach their full potential in one small area of Asia. This makes supply chain issues with rubber incredibly common, even today.
Thankfully, Du Pont Company created a synthetic rubber in 1931 to contend with rubber availability and improve on the overall quality of tires.
Tires Were Taking Us Further by 1946
Radial tires were brought to us in 1946 by Michelin, which increased gas mileage, enhanced steering capabilities, and gave tires a longer life by being particularly more resistant to the wear and tear of older, rougher roads.
Europe and Asia adopted this tire technology without a hitch. However, it took America another twenty years to use the radial tire on its vehicles.
When It Comes to Tires, One Tube Is Better Than Two
Early tires had two parts: an inner air tube and a durable tire to cover it. But this left tires vulnerable to leaks and they would easily become deflated. In 1947, B.F. Goodrich produced the tubeless tire. It was more reliable and durable than other tires. Now, tubeless tires are the standard for all cars.
The Run-Flat Tire Increased Safety for Both the Passenger and Driver
In 1979, the run-flat tire entered the market to increase safety for everyone. This tire tech allows you to drive your car at about 50 miles per hour on a punctured tire. The results were accident prevention and better protection for passengers and drivers in an emergency.
You can find three different run-flat tires: self-supporting tires, self-sealing tires, and auxiliary supported tires. Self-supporting tires were reinforced on the inside to withstand the weight of your car in case of a blowout. They lasted long enough to get you to the gas station. Self-sealing tires permanently seal themselves using a special liner, if the hole isn’t too big.
Auxiliary run-flat tires use a combination of custom rims and tires. In this particular system, the flat tire tread rests on a ring attached to the wheel when your tire loses pressure. This technology places most of the work on your wheel, rather than your tire, and offers a better ride quality.
Tires for Today and the Future Are Getting Major Upgrades for the Safest Drive Ever
You can expect to see some incredible things coming out of this industry in the future. For example, Japan and the U.S., have been developing the Contact Area Information Sensing System that uses information from a sensor placed inside your tire. It monitors your car’s interaction with the road and promotes safety by telling you about changes to the road surface.
So, the next time you shop for new tires, wheels, or rims, take time to consider all the steps it took to get you rolling. If you don’t see a feature you want for your tires, just wait because this industry is evolving faster than ever.