Tires are often not something we think about until we need to repair or replace them, but both as drivers and passengers our safety greatly depends on them. By investing a little time in learning about your tires, you will discover what you can do as a vehicle owner to prolong the life of your tires and enhance tire performance and safety. Though our Tires Basics section will not make you a tire expert, it will provide you with a basic tire overview and get you more familiar with your tires.
There is science behind today's tires, which combines concepts of physics with advances in engineering and chemistry. Innovative designs offer the best in performance, fuel efficiency, ride comfort, safety, and reliability. Beyond basic performance, today's tires are developed to meet specific vehicle demands, or perform well in extreme climates.
Tires are comprised of many different elements, which are assembled in a TBM, or Tire Building Machine. After assembly, tires are cured and finished to precise specifications. The basic components of a tire include:
- Bead – the tire gets its strength from the bead, which is a loop of high-strength, rubber-coated cable. This strength allows the tire to stay mounted on the wheel rim and enables it to withstand mounting machine pressure when rims are installed.
- Body Ply – tires are comprised of multiple plies or layers of fabrics, which are rubber coated to seal in air and promote tire element bonding. Types of fabric may include polyester cord and Kevlar. The number of plies a tire body has is indicative of its strength.
- Belt Package – steel-belted radial tires incorporate bands of steel, which reinforce the area under the tread. The benefits of steel belts include greater puncture resistance and better road surface contact.
- Sidewall – providing lateral stability, the tire sidewall protects the tire and gives it good resistance to abrasion and environmental factors. Sidewalls also provide a thick rubber area upon which raised identification letters and decorative features are molded.