The vast majority of us drive daily, and few things are more important to our safety when in the car than the tyres we drive on. Yet the average driver knows little or nothing about how the tyres on their car are made. Read on to discover more about one of your car’s most commonly overlooked safety features.
A bumpy ride – the days before rubber
In the early days of transport, before rubber had been developed, travellers were in for a bumpy ride, with many vehicles equipped with nothing other than wooden wheels with bands of metal or leather fitted around them to prevent wear. Whilst this objective may have been achieved, comfort and grip were certainly not major considerations at the time.
As vehicles continued to develop and bicycles, buses, trucks and other forms of transport became more popular, wooden wheels began to be replaced with metal wheels and the first true tyres began to be distributed – although these were solid rubber and not the pneumatic tyres we are familiar with today.
It was in 1888 on May Street, Belfast, that Scots-born John Boyd Dunlop made the first pneumatic tire – in an effort to prevent the suffering of his 10-year-old son Johnnie while riding his tricycle on rough pavements. It was from this moment that the tyre we know today was born.
Manufacturing modern tyres
The manufacturing process for modern car tyres can be divided into five specific stages.
Did you know that your car tyre’s rubber is made up of as many as 30 different kinds of rubber, fillers and other ingredients? It is the blend that gives the tyre many of its qualities such as resistance, durability and softness. The manufacturing process begins when these ingredients are mixed in giant blenders known as Banbury mixers to create a black, gummy compound that will be sent on for milling.
When the rubber has cooled, it is cut into strips from which the basic structure of the tyre itself will be formed. Other elements of the tyre are also prepared at the milling stage, some of which are then coated in another type of rubber.
With the rubber ready to go, it’s now time to make the actual tyre. This process is done from the inside out. The textile elements, steel belts, beads, ply, tread, and other components are placed in a tyre-building machine. The final result is what is known as a ‘green tyre’ – a tyre that is beginning to look finished.
Once the green tyre is prepared, it is then vulcanised with hot moulds in a curing machine. This compresses all of the parts of the tyre together and gives the tyre its final shape, including its tread pattern and manufacturer’s sidewall markings. Read our article on tyre markings to learn more about what these mean.
Of course, when a product has such an important role in safety, a careful inspection is essential.
Highly trained inspectors using special machinery will now carefully check each tyre for any potential weaknesses before allowing it to leave the factory. They will also look for any blemishes or imperfections that affect the final quality of the tyre. As well as routine testing on every tyre, tyres are also randomly pulled from the line for x-raying to check for potential internal weaknesses or failures that are not visible to the naked eye.
Quality control engineers may also randomly select tyres off the line and cut them open to conduct further inspections. It may seem like a lot, but after all of this, you can buy quality tyres in the confidence that they are fit for the job they are designed to do.
Here at Tyreland, we always go the extra mile to ensure our customers have access to the widest range of the highest quality car tyres at a price to suit your budget – all delivered with our incredible customer service. To get in with your local branch of Tyreland today, call now on 01 860 20 20.