10 Fun Tire Facts

Since you learned about taking care of your tires in this issue, I thought it would be fun to reveal some interesting—and perhaps previously unknown—tire facts.

Did you know…?

  • The natural color of rubber is white, not black. Manufacturers of tires add carbon black to rubber to increase various qualities that prolong the life of the tire.  The carbon black increases road-wear abrasions of the produced tire by as much as 100-fold. It also improves the tensile strength by as much as 1,000 percent to rubber left untreated.  Carbon black helps conduct heat away from troubled spots, such as tread and belt areas.  Considering heat is one of the tires biggest enemies, this is a great advantage.

  • The World’s Largest Tire is in Allen Park, Michigan. The tire is a 12-ton, 80-foot-tall tower of rubber that was built to withstand hurricane-force winds.  It served as a Ferris wheel at the 1964-1965 New York’s World Fair.  The tire was later moved to Allen Park in 1966. Urban legend has it that the tire broke loose and rolled across I-94. But, there’s no evidence of such a thing ever happening.

  • Early cars used “artillery wheels” that had the tire bolted to the wheel, which would not be a fun flat to change.

  • Most new cars don’t come with spare tires. Manufacturers are trying to decrease weight due to stricter emissions rules, so they’re selling new cars with a patch kit and a can of compressed air.

  • In 1961, Goodyear experimented with an illuminated tire. Lit from the inside by glass incandescent bulbs, the softly glowing white tires never left the show circuit.

  • The space shuttle’s main wheels are approximately the size of those found on an 18-wheeler. However, one space shuttle tire can support 142,000 pounds and is rated for 259 mph.

  • More than 250 million tires are discarded each year. Recent recycling programs melt the rubber for asphalt or shred them for garden mulch. Some companies even make new tires out of old ones.

  • Speed ratings on tires are set in kilometers per hour. This is why speed ratings are unusual mph figures, like Q: 99 mph or R: 106 mph.

  • Michelin is working on producing the “tweel,” a one-piece airless wheel and tire. The tweel offers the possibility of no flat tires and replaceable treads.

  • Lego is the largest manufacturer of tires. The toy company produces 306 million of the little tires every year.

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