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On the surface, car and truck tires are simple and basic—they are black, round, and made of rubber. The reality is that they are complex and highly engineered to be reliable and durable. Maybe back in the day, they were simpler, but that was a long time ago. Today’s tires come in a variety of styles for hundreds of different cars, both passenger and racing. Most tires are still rubber, even though tire manufacturers are looking for synthetic sources. Let’s look at what kind of rubber is used for tires.

What’s in a Tire?

The construction of most tires breaks down into six parts, and they are all important. The body ply is the structure of the tire and provides the strength to contain the pressure of the air inside it. It gives the tire it’s shape and flexibility. Steel belts inside the tire provide stability and strength to the tread of the tire, and the tread is the pattern on the outside that provides traction by enabling the tire to grab the road. Sidewalls are a rubber compound that covers the body plies on the side of the tire, which give it protection from road and curb damage. The bead assures an airtight fit around the wheels, and the inner liner is a rubber compound that keeps the air inside the tire. All these parts combined make up a standard tire.

What Kind of Rubber?

What rubber is used for tires? Most tires still use natural rubber that comes from rubber trees. Then, vulcanization, the process of adding sulfur to the rubber to harden it and make it usable for tire manufacturing, makes the natural rubber more durable. However, with so many tire companies needing rubber, there is a looming shortage of natural rubber to use in the process. Competition for natural rubber is leading tire makers to find alternative sources. There are two main synthetic polymers tire manufacturers use: butadiene rubber and styrene-butadiene rubber. Both synthetics work in combination with natural rubber. Their physical and chemical properties determine the performance of each component in the tire, as well as the rolling resistance, wear, and traction. RNR Tire Express tire stores in Rock Hill, SC, is your home for top-quality tires, wheels, and service. Come see us today.

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