by Pat Goss
PAT GOSS: Modern tires are a lot more than just round, black and rubber, and here to give us some basic information about tires is Bob Toth, a tire engineer. Bob, welcome to Goss’ Garage.
BOB TOTH: It’s great to be here. Thank you for having me.
GOSS: Tires today are very complex. What are we seeing on this cut away?
TOFF: Well, for example this is an all-season sport-performance tire. It incorporates Kevlar cap plies and it incorporates a carbon-fiber infused side-wall insert to provide the responsive handling this kind of tire needs.
GOSS: Even there it’s a lot more complicated than that with tread compounds and so on. What about this tire over here?
TOTH: Well a lot of consumers judge a tire based on its appearance, and that’s important, but there’s way more science below the surface. For example this specific product has three different tread compounds and three different tread zones across the tread pattern. In the shoulder area we have a high-performance, max-handling compound for responsive handling in dry. In these two intermediate zones we have aqua-chutes and a wet traction compound for maximized wet traction and stopping power. And in this center-zone, this center rib, we have micro-blades but we also have a compound infused with volcanic sand to provide the grip you need on icy-snowy surfaces just like sandpaper.
GOSS: But even the compounds themselves, as we see with balls, that one doesn’t do much and yet this one is very active.
TOTH: The red ball is high-rebound, low-hysteresis. Great for fuel efficiency, great for long wear. The blue ball is actually a very low-rebound compound, high-hysteresis that absorbs all the energy. It would be great for deformation on a road surface for maximum traction, a drag racing slick for instance. In between these two compounds there’s an infinite number of varieties and thereby we can actually engineer the compound to provide exactly the kind of traction you need for the different seasons.
GOSS: But then there’s also stuff like you were showing me here. Explain this to me.
TOTH: Ahh, treadlock technology. In a sport-performance tire you want good handling when it’s wet and dry but if the tire also claims to be all-season it has to have all-season traction, so how do have your cake and eat it too? We have in these micro-grooves, which provide great start-up and stopping traction on snow and ice, we have what we refer to as treadlock technology. These are treadlock technology micro-grooves. These cups and domes actually lock together when the tire goes into a corner and give you a solid foundation for maximum handling and then open up for the fore and aft traction you need when it’s snowing.
GOSS: That’s fascinating. So for the consumer they need to do a lot more than just look for a pretty tire, they need to study them.
TOTH: Research! It’s way more than price, too. Shop the internet; it’s a great source for information about tire types. Some of the websites of today actually have consumer feedback so you can find out what other people think about the tires. Visit your local tire retailer, a good tire retailer would be able to tell you the differences between tires and why it’s important to your driving style.
GOSS: Bob, thank you so much.
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