A Quick History of the Tire
The earliest cars were little more than motorized wooden carriages and buggies. As such, they often used wooden wheels with a band of iron around the wheel rim as a sort of tire. However, as cars increased in performance, drivers found that the metal tire was holding them back. The ride was jarring, and traction was poor on slippery surfaces. Thus, in 1895, the first rubber car tire was born.
In an early part of the twentieth century, tire makers experimented with various techniques to make their products perform better. One such experiment led to using soot from various industrial processes blended into the rubber mixture. Combined with cotton threads, the soot (which turned the rubber black) made the tire more durable, more stable, and allowed the tire to shed heat more easily. That discovery of using soot in tire rubber compounds led to the usage of a chemical material found into today’s tires, known as carbon black.
Those cotton fibers, interestingly, ultimately led to the use of cords and belts that are still used in tires today.
Classic or luxury cars are still occasionally fitted with whitewall tires – tires where the tread is traditional black, but the sidewall is white. Goodyear also produces a number of outlined white letter light truck tires where certain letters on the sidewall are outlined with a white compound. That white colored compound in both whitewalls and white outlined letters doesn’t have carbon black within it.
What is Carbon Black?
Carbon black is a byproduct of the combustion of various petroleum products. When added as a filler in rubber, it increases abrasion resistance and tensile strength significantly – which helps lead to a long-wearing tire.
Further, the carbon black helps to conduct heat away from the tread and belts of the tires, which also helps to increase the lifespan of the tire. The carbon black compounds also help protect the tires from UV rays and ozone, which can shorten the lifespan of tires.
If you’re looking for a new set of tires today, use our helpful Tire Finder to search by your license plate number, vehicle type (year, make and model), or your specific tire size.