We use a tyre so that the vehicle we drive would have a softer connection with the road. The tyres are attached around the outer edge of the wheels of our cars. They also affect the performance of the vehicle. So here we talk about everything you need to know about tyres.
So, what are tyres? Tyres are essentially rubber shoes for your car (filled with air/nitrogen). The primary material used to make tyres is rubber. These ring-shaped coverings are then filled with air. Air acts as a good buffer and absorbs shock from the road. The pneumatic tyre also reduces friction with the ground.
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Construction of Car Tyres
Tyres may seem like simple and sturdy rubber disks. But there is so much detail that goes into the making of a tyre. It’s a complex engineering process that has a lot of physics and chemistry in it. Multiple layers made of multiple compounds work together to make the tyre run the way it does.
Different tyres perform differently. This is because there is a wide variation in the design of tyres. We need separate tyres for various functions. If we are classifying broadly, there are obvious variations in the design of passenger tyres, heavy-duty off-road tyres and others.
Depending on load and operating conditions, the components included in the tyre may vary. Compared to passenger tyres, heavier tyres like truck tyres may have additional ply layers, belt, breakers, or a heavier sidewall.
But more specifically, a lot of times tyres are designed as per the unique requirements of each car manufacturer and for each vehicle model. As each car runs differently, it makes sense that inorder to optimize performance it needs to be paired with the right tyres.
Materials and Components
It’s not just rubber, an average tyre has. It has numerous compounds in the final product. Although, in most cases, other materials are used in combination with rubber for best results. Like an intricate dish, even the tiniest variation in the recipe can change the end product.
The base material used in the tyre is natural as well as synthetic rubber. Additionally, carbon black, silica, oils, sulfur, antioxidants, and so on are used as fillers. This is done right at the mixing stage to produce the sheets. As for other components, steel wire is covered in a rubber compound to form the bead. It is joined with the apex. Moreover, angled steel wires are used as breakers.
Firstly, the carcass of the tyre is assembled. The bead and apex are joined with inner liner and body ply layers, and finally with the sidewall. The sidewall edges are then turned down mechanically to complete the basic carcass.
On a different assembly, we would have a belt drum. Here the belt is brought together, layering the ply with breakers, and then laying the tread. The belt assembly is then brought to the carcass and they are joined together. Compressed air is used for joining to ensure cohesion.
The final manufacturing step is cooking, or vulcanization if you prefer to be more civilized. The green tyre is placed in a patterned mould. The pattern is pressed into the tyre during the process. Rubber curing bladders are placed inside the tyre with high-pressure steam inside, that expands when the mould is closed. The process is done in high temperatures. For passenger tyres, it takes about 10-15 minutes. But heavier the tyre, the more time it would need. It may even go up to an entire day.
The tyres are removed after the required time. Like a baked bun out of the oven, they are then cooked and ready. Voila!
But before they hit the road, the tyres also need to go through rounds of quality inspection. Here the dimensional accuracy, surface uniformity, and so on, are checked and confirmed. It may be limited to visual and basic x-ray examination. Or it can include detailed lab tests and road tests.
Parts of the tyre
We saw how tyres are manufactured. Now let us look at various parts that form the end product.
The tyre casing is comprised of everything except for the steel belts and the treads. But the plies, beads, inner liner and even the sidewall are a part of the casing.
The sidewall is the surface that makes up the sides. It is the portion on either plane, from the rim bead to the tread. The sidewall displays tyre markings referencing its size, load index and speed rating.
This is the part of the tyre that comes in contact with the surface of the road. The tread has grooves and sipes that renders the required traction on the ground. However, the tread wears over time.
The tread patterns are also called grooves. We see these grooves in the tread of the tyre. The tyre can grip the road well, thanks to these grooves. Moreover, on wet roads, these grooves limit aquaplaning. The tread blocks also bear smaller channels or sipes that check skidding on icy roads.
The casing of the tyre has many layers that are composed of strings made of rubber-coated fabric. The fabric most commonly used here is polyester but we can find nylon or rayon in the plies as well. Plies in the tyre keeps the tyre in the required shape. They also make them stronger and more resistant to tread wear.
The tyre has belts that are essentially wires made up of steel. The rubber-coated steel wires are made into overlays that are placed around the tread of the tyre. The belts thus bolster the strength of the tyre.
Beads are the edge of the tyre that touches the rim. The rim on the other hand is the outer perimeter of the wheel. Consequently, the beads act as fasteners that make sure that the tyres stay fixed on the wheel. The beads too are made of rubber-coated steel.
It is the edge of the tire where the sidewall meets the tread. Shoulder of the tyre is the part between the sidewall and the tread. The shoulder might carry treads that might look distinctive from the rest of tyre, but not always.
However, if the tyre loses pressure, the weight of the vehicle gets shifted to the edge of the tyre, that is to their shoulders. Shoulder wear can also be caused by over-inflation or bad suspension.
Which type of car tyre should you choose?
Automobile tyres come in different shapes and sizes. You would have to decide which tyre would fit your requirements. Depending on what you use your car for and how you drive it the tyre you need would differ. Besides the weather conditions would also dictate the kind of tyre you should choose. Different vehicles would also demand different tyres.
Your choice of tyres will also depend on whether you prefer a greater grip or stability on the road. If you want high-performance tyres, you can swap the ones you got from the manufacturer with these. Since tyres affect the performance of your car choose your tyres wisely. Here are some types of tyres.
They are made for normal weather conditions and provide greater traction on dry and wet roadways. These tyres have bigger tread blocks compared to other season tyres. Additionally, in rain, standard tyres have greater resistance toward hydroplaning. Hydroplaning happens when a layer of water gets trapped underneath the tyre.
Standard tyres are also called summer tyres. They are named so because they are no good if the temperature drops below seven-degree celsius. But, compared to winter tyres, the performance of the summer tyres is inferior.
When you are driving in snow or ice, winter tyres are safer to use than standard tyres. In India, it is perpetually hot – at least in most parts of the country. Therefore, you can get away using standard tyres all throughout the year. But you would have to invest in winter tyres, if you are living in the few colder parts, where snow and ice are common in winter.
Winter tyres use more silica compared to summer tyres. These tyres would give the vehicle a better footing on snow. Also, they have more tread pattern and sipes meaning a higher adhesion on wet pavements.
SUVs and other utility vehicles with four-wheel drive are often fitted with all-terrain tyres. All-terrain (A/T) tyres are good in the tarmac laden roads of the city. They also do well off-road, no matter what terrain they are driven on.
The elevated areas on the treads of the tyre are called lugs. A/T tyres have stouter lugs and hence they provide great friction.
Tyre Markings Explained
The tyre size sequence
185: The width of the sidewall
55: The aspect ratio
R: Construction of the tyre
16: The rim diametre
Load Index and Speed Rating
|Speed Rating||Maximum Speed
Additional Tyre Markings
Maximum Load Rating
Maximum Inflation Pressure
It is the maximum air pressure the tyre can withstand. But, you should not inflate the tyre to this point. This is because the ideal inflation pressure for your tyre will be lower. You will probably find it in the manual.
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The year of manufacture
Center Tyre Wear
Side Tyre Wear
Here it is underinflation that causes tread wear to concentrate on the sides and not the centre. Besides poor alignment can also be behind side wear.
Heel and Toe Wear
Other Tyre Damages
Punctures and Cuts
Your tyre can get punctured by debris on the road. Any sharp objects like pieces of glass, stones or a nail on the pavement can potentially give you a flat tyre. Cuts and tears too can be caused by sharper debris biting into your tyres. If driving over pothole results in cuts deep enough to expose the cords you should take your car to a mechanic right away.
Breaks and bulges
Do not drive with a worn-out tyre
If the tread wear if down to 2/32 of an inch it is time to get new tyres. You can do the coin test to see if the tyre has tread wear. Place a 1 rupee coin in the groove of a tyre. If you can see the head of the Asoka Pillar, your tyre has sustained too much wear. Time to do something about it.
Bald tyres are those that have almost all of their tread worn out. In bald and worn out tyres most of the surface of the tyre would come in contact with the road. This results in overheating.
Snow and Ice
Smaller grooves called sipes are responsible for good handling and traction on snow. But since they are absent in bald and worn-out tyres, tyres with a lot of wear are likely to make your commute during winter dangerous.
If the tyre has excessive wear it has a very big chance of getting punctured. This is because here most of the tread is gone making the tyre more exposed to the sharp debris on the tarmac.
The grooves on the tread channel the water underneath the tyre. Because of this, only a small amount of water gets trapped in the areas of the tyre that touches the road. But for a worn-out tyre, it is a different tale altogether. Since they do not have enough tread pattern left there is a chance of aquaplaning. Lesser traction on the ground increases the probability of skidding.
If you think your tyres are worn, go to a mechanic and get them changed, you know where to go!
How do you take care of your tyres?
You can use your tyre’s treadwear bar to check the wear on the tyre. If your tyre does not come with that, you can manually check the tread depth. Treadwear is a serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately. To take care of your tyres, make sure you drive slowly on bad roads. Don’t forget to drive slowly and carefully over speed bumps, potholes and debris on the road.
Tyre rotation is very important and ensures an even wear on all the tyres. You can rotate your tyres after every 8000km or so. But how are the tyres rotated? Each tyre is taken off of its position and is put on the rim of another wheel. If your car has a rear-wheel drive, you can remove the front-right tyre and place it on the rear-left wheel. By using the cross pattern you can rotate the other two as well. If you rotate your tyres you can save a couple of trips to store to get new ones.
- The steering wheel produces noise and vibrations. And it feels heavy when it should not.
- You can’t make the car travel straight. That is you feel like the car is pulling you to either side.
- If the wheels are poorly aligned your mechanic can easily fix them.
Top 5 Tyre Brands in India
So, now you know all about tyres you can rest easy in the knowledge that you can go tyre shopping confidently. But which brand should you choose? Here are 5 suggestions from us. Also, a thing to note is that GoMechanic provides tyres of almost all the leading brands.
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It is the largest tyre maker in the country. MRF which stands for Madras Rubber Factory is the sixth-largest tyre manufacturer in the world. This company has been serving India for more than half a century. The manufacturer makes tyres for both cars, buses, motorbikes and even tractors. Aside from tyres they also make tubes, treads, paints and conveyor belts.
This homegrown company is headquartered in Gurgaon, in the National Capital Region. The first plant of the company was set up in Perambra, Thrissur (Kerala). Now, the company has expanded its operations and has many plants both in the country and abroad. Appolo has been around for 40 years or so. Besides, this Indian company exports tyres to over 100 countries.
The tyre manufacturer, CEAT is also a go-to tyre-maker for Indians. This Mumbai-based company manufactures tyres for cars, SUVs, scooters and motorcycles. They also make tyres for buses and tractors as well. They have manufacturing plants all over the country.
This globally renowned tyre manufacturer is a leading tyre maker in the country as well. The more than a 100-year old French company supplies radial tyres at a starting price of Rs.1,600.
They produce tyres, tubes and flaps. JK tyres manufacture radials for cars, buses and trucks. They don’t make motorcycle tyres though. JK Tyres was established in Delhi and has been leading tyremaker for 40 years and counting. JK Tyre and Industries Ltd. is a part of the JK Organisation that was established over a century back.
5 Dos and Don’ts with Tyres
Let us wind this up with some things you should do and don’t do when it comes to your tyres.
You should do this!
Wait till the tyres are cold
When you need to check the tyre pressure, you should not do it hot tyres. Only check the tyre pressure on cold tyres. Additionally buy a pressure gauge if you don’t have one.
Check the wheel alignment
Make sure your car wheels are aligned the way your manufacturer wants you to keep. If you run over a speed bump or any irregularities in the road that is likely to throw off your wheel alignment take the time to check it.
Buy good quality tyres
Poor quality tyres will puncture sooner. Besides they will also wear down faster. This means you would have to get them replaced often. And at the end of the day, you will spend more money if you go with the cheaper option.
Carry around a tyre repair kit
If you have a patch repair kit handy any puncturers your tyre could sustain might become less of a headache. You can fix perforations on the spot before it becomes worse.
Book a GoMechanic tyre service
You can book a tyre service with free pick up and drop service. All you have to do is book a slot by clicking here and we’ll do the rest. Additionally, you can get Flat 10% off by using code GOBLOG. Book now and thank me later.
Carry a spare tyre
Always have a good spare tyre. When a time comes when you need to use it, don’t forget to get a new spare tyre to take its place.
Don’t do this!
Don’t use tyres lower speed rating compared to your vehicle
Know the speed rating and load index of the vehicle tyre. And always remember to use the tyres ones that suit the vehicle you drive.
Don’t use tyres that are too big or small
You can find the tyre size sequence on the sidewall of the tyre. You should remember to match the tyre size with the tyre size specified by the manufacturer. Using tyres that are not the right size can be dangerous.
Don’t speed on wet roads
Rains mean more motor accidents. And wet roads mean more hydroplaning. Thus the traction of your vehicle can go down on wet roads.
Don’t pull out a nail stuck on the tyre
If your tyre picks up any sharp object from the road, don’t pull it out of the tyre yourself. Go to a mechanic to get the tyre fixed and restored.
Don’t drive on bad roads
Since we live in India, let us try not to drive on bad roads whenever we can. Unpaved or pot-hole filled roads can wear out the tyres sooner. This means we would have to get new tyres sooner or retread old ones.
This concludes this piece on everything you need to know about tyres. We hope you apply what you learnt and good luck with your tyres!