Sophistication in Rubber, The (in)Side of Tires you Don’t know.

Growing up I always thought that a tire was made entirely of rubber. Imagine my surprise when I one day learned that there were several layers of materials, including metal, in a tire! Like many things we use on a daily basis and have no idea how they actually work to result in the function we are familiar with (watch, computer monitor, remote control … anyone?)  tires might be a little more complex than you think. Understanding how they work might help you make a better informed decision as to what to look for in a new tire.

What’s in ’em?

The Bead – This is constructed from high-strength steel cable that is covered in rubber. It’s main function is to keep the tires seated on the rim.

The Body – This is constructed of several layers of different fabrics, called plies. Most commonly there are two ply’s on a car wheel that are typically made with polyester cords which run perpendicular to the tread. The more plies applied to the tire, the more strength the tire has. The ply’s are coated with rubber to help blend with the other components of the tire.

Steel Belts – These metal belts are located directly underneath the top layer rubber for reinforcement. These help the tire retain its strength, form, puncture resistance as well as keeping the tire flat for proper contact to the road.

Tread – It is one of the things that we are all familiar with in a tire & its main purpose of providing traction to the road. But thread is actually made from a variety of different natural and synthetic rubbers which are all hardened as one through the process of vulcanization which converts rubber into a more durable material through a process which involves the addition of Sulfur.

Sidewall – This is the area to the sides of the tread that lead down to the Bead. The sidewall provides stability, protects the plies and keeps air from escaping. It is made out of the same material as the tread.

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