Tires are one of the most important components in a vehicle, because they’re the contact point between the car and road surface.
However, as a car owner, you need to understand the different components that make up your tire in case of any issues. For instance, do you know what tires are made of? If you’d like to find out, keep reading!
What Are Tires Made Of?
Tires are primarily made of rubber, which is combined with other different raw materials. Typically, tire components include natural and synthetic rubber, carbon black, silica, numerous chemical ingredients, antioxidants, curing systems, and textile and texture reinforcement cables. All these components play a role in boosting the tire’s strength, durability, and performance on the road.
For more information about what materials and chemicals tires are made of, keep reading for useful facts and tips!
What’s In A Tire?
According to tire manufacturer Michelin, there are over 200 ingredients on a tire that play a critical role in tire performance, safety, and efficiency.While rubber is the primary material, it’s combined with other raw materials to make a complete tire.
Tires have different parts, including beads, bead fillers, the sidewall, belt plies, body ply, tire casing, inner liner, and tread.
All these parts come together to help the tire perform and are made up of different materials, which are listed here below:
1. Natural Rubber
19% of a tire consists of natural rubber in passenger and light truck tires, while truck tires have a 34% natural rubber composition.
Natural rubber is sourced from a rubber tree as a milky liquid which is then mixed with acids to solidify.
This material comes with performance characteristics for the tires and helps prevent tears and cracks. As the main tread component, rubber is used because it can withstand different types of weather, maintain grip, and is less expensive.
2. Synthetic Rubber
Synthetic rubber used in tires is produced from polymers of crude oil. In tire manufacturing, there are two types of synthetic rubber polymers used- styrene-butadiene rubber and butadiene rubber.
Used in combination with natural rubber, these materials make up 24% of the entire tire in passenger and light truck tires and 11% in truck tires.
These synthetic polymers have different physical and chemical properties that determine the overall tire performance and factors such as wear, traction, and rolling resistance.
Synthetic rubber used on tires also has an important component, halobutyl rubber, which is essential because it keeps the inner liner impermeable and also keeps the tire inflated.
3. Fillers (Carbon Black & Silica)
Originally, tires used to be grey-white before manufacturers switched to black. While there are still whitewall tires, tire manufacturers started making black tires by adding carbon black.
Carbon black is a soft, fine powder produced when natural gas or crude oil is burned using a limited amount of oxygen, creating a large amount of soot.
Together with silica, these two fillers are critical in the tire-making process because they reinforce the rubber. Due to their properties, they improve tensile strength, tear, and abrasion.
Silica helps in boosting rolling resistance, and combined with carbon black, goes to ensure that tires are durable.
On average, old passenger car tires have steel that makes up about 10% – 20% of the weight; therefore, a shredding plant can produce about 100-200 MT of steel tire wire during recycling.
Manufacturers add these steel materials to help with puncture control, which improves the car’s safety. Steel wire is used in belt plies to help boost the tire’s stability and strength.
It’s also added on the beads and the belts under the tread to improve handling and performance. Most tires have steel on the bead area, which is part of the tire that comes into contact with the rim.
Tires also have different types of textiles, which are types of fabric cords that reinforce the tire. These cords help to support the vehicle’s weight and provide dimensional stability.
In a tire, the most common cords used are polyester cord, nylon, rayon, and aramid, which are used to make tire plies in passenger tires.
Textures are crucial in tires because they act as the primary reinforcing material for your tire casing, helping keep the tire in shape. Because of this fabric, your tires have the endurance to handle different road conditions.
Tires are also made up of different chemical components that are antioxidants. These chemicals protect the rubber from breaking down after exposure to extreme temperatures and oxygen.
7. Curing Systems
During the manufacturing process, tires go through curing, which is used to give the tire its final shape. Manufacturers use chemicals such as sulfur and zinc oxide to transform the rubber into a solid compound.
These chemical compounds are used to help protect the tires from the effects of exposure to the ozone layer.
Where Does The Rubber In Tires Come From?
Tires are primarily made up of rubber, about 40-60%. Most of this material covers the tread and the sidewall, but where does this rubber come from?
This tire manufacturing industry is one of the biggest consumers of rubber. Natural rubber comes from the Hevea trees originally from Brazil.
Today, manufacturers use a mixture of natural and synthetic rubber. While natural rubber is still sourced from the trees, synthetic rubber is derived from crude oil, which helps extend the lifespan of a tire and boosts heat resistance.
Why Are Tires Made Of Rubber?
Listed below are some of the reasons why tire manufacturers use rubber:
1. It Helps Maintain Grip
Your car needs to move whether it’s hot, raining, or the road is covered with snow, and for your vehicle to move in these different conditions, it has to have the necessary grip.
Rubber material makes it easier to grip the road surface and stay stable on slippery roads. It can maintain traction even on rough terrain, and that’s why manufacturers use it as the primary material.
2. It Can Handle Loads
Rubber tires are the go-to because they can carry loads. As a viscoelastic material, manufacturers combine rubber with compressed air to allow it to carry heavy loads comfortably.
In addition, the material is cushiony, therefore less noisy on the road.
3. It Lasts Longer
Tire manufacturers use a combination of natural and synthetic rubber, which extends the lifespan of tires. For instance, synthetic rubber is less costly and helps the tire withstand heat effects for longer than any other material.
How Are Tires Made?
To start off, tire manufacturers mix the raw materials, including rubber, carbon black, sulfur, and other oils and chemicals. This mixture is remilled and mixed again under additional heating to soften the mix, and more chemicals are added to form the final blend.
Once the mixture is ready, the manufacturers take it through powerful rolling mills, where it’s squeezed into thick sheets. These sheets are later used to design the specific parts of a tire from the beads, tread, and body.
An assembler then puts together the different parts using the tire building machine. Their responsibility includes adding the beads, shaping the edges of the tire piles, and gluing together the extruded rubber layers for the tread and the sidewalls.
This assembled tire is known as the green tire. For the final step, the green tire is placed into a mold for the curing process. After curing is done, the tire is released from the mold to cool off and for testing.
Each of these tires is inspected for any bulges, bubbles, or voids, inflated, and then spun. Once the tire passes the test, it can be moved to a warehouse for distribution.
To learn more, you can also see our posts on the biggest tires in the world, how long does it take to change tires, and why do new tires smell.
Tires are made of different components that affect their performance and durability on the road.
While the primary material is rubber, it’s combined with other raw materials during the manufacturing process.
Tires are made of synthetic and natural rubber, carbon black, silica, textiles, and several chemical ingredients. Each of these materials plays a critical role in boosting the tire’s properties.