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Friday, May 9, 2014

What Are You Riding On: An In-Depth Look at Tires

All cars have tires, and every car owner must purchase new sets from time to time. Still, tires are among the auto parts that car owners often think and know the least about. Having a better understanding of what goes into these automotive parts can help you make a more informed decision the next time you're in the market for a new set.

Basics of Radial Construction

The majority of cars on the road today are running on radial tires, which have been on the market since the 1940s. The body or casing of a tire is constructed out of cords called plies. Most tires feature plies made of polyester, which are lightweight and temperature resistant. In a radial tire, the plies are positioned so that they are at a 90-degree angle to the direction in which the tire moves.

This differs from bias tires, which have criss-crossed plies. Radial tires are popular because they are more flexible and do not get caught in ruts in the road, helping to improve the maneuverability of vehicles. Diagonal ply construction is still used for some tires, but typically, this type of auto parts is reserved for commercial trucks rather than passenger vehicles.

The Structure of Sidewalls

The strength of the sidewalls of tires greatly determines the overall strength of the tires themselves. Manufacturers of tire auto parts must balance this need for strength with flexibility requirements to ensure that the tires allow for easy handling on the road. As a result, tire makers produce special rubber compounds for each type of tire that they manufacture, ensuring that they are the perfect balance of weather resistant, UV resistant, strong and flexible for different types of driving. They may also add steel or nylon to reinforce the sidewalls and improve handling in vehicles that are being driven at high speeds.

The Importance of the Tread

The tread or outer surface of the tires is added to the tire last, but it is what largely determines what type of automotive parts the tire will be. Engineers and product designers at tire companies are constantly researching and experimenting with new tread patterns, looking for ways to improve the performance of the auto parts that they produce. Different types of patterns provide different benefits, and when combined with various types of rubber compounds allow for tires to be made for rain, snow, conserving gasoline, moving at top speeds and more.

There you have it--the ins and outs of tires. When it's time for you to shop for these auto parts next, be sure to take the time to closely compare your options. As you can see, tires can vary dramatically in their types, making it important that you select the right type for your vehicle and your driving needs, just as you would any other types of car accessories.

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