If someone were to ask me what tires are made of, I’d say, “Well, rubber, and uh, rubber…” Well, it turns out (as you may have guessed) that there’s actually a lot more that goes into the making of a tire than meets the eye.
To get an idea of how many different components actually go into just one tire, let’s take a look at a typical all-season tire. For this kind of tire, there are 4 main categories of components: rubber, fabric, steel, and additives. Not only are there about 5 different types of synthetic rubber that go into a tire, but there are also 8 different types of natural rubber — 13 types of rubber for one tire?!
In addition to rubber, there are the ever-important fabric, steel, and additives. Unlike the rubber component of a tire, the fabric component does not call for over 10 different variations of the product. Instead, just 2 types of fabric are needed: nylon and polyester. Similarly, what’s needed in terms of steel can be broken down into 2 main components: steel cord and bead wire. Right now you may be asking what bead wire is. Don’t worry — it’s not terribly confusing. Essentially, bead wire is used to reinforce the part of the tire that connects with the rim.
Ok, now on to the additives! Here’s where a large variety of products enter the mix. Not only will you need about 8 different types of carbon black (basically used to reinforce the tire), but you will also need a whopping 40 different types of chemicals, waxes, oils, pigments, and the like. Put it all together, and you’ve got yourself a 22-pound, carefully engineered all-season tire.
As you can see, the construction of a tire is anything but simple. Tires are complex and expertly crafted products that require as much discretion in crafting and production from the manufacturer as they do in purchasing from the consumer. All tires are not alike, and finding the right tires for your vehicle can make all the difference.