One of the least appreciated parts of your vehicle is the tire, and yet without them, where would we be? Sitting in the driveway, that’s where! So let’s take a look at the parts of a tire and maybe a little history about them.
Oh heck, let’s do the history first. Originally, tires consisted of bands of steel wrapped around a wooden wheel. Not exactly the stuff of comfort. In the late 1800’s we saw the first tires made of rubber, and they have been improving ever since.
The first parts of a tire to learn about are the tread and sidewall. The tread is the part of the tire that you see immediately when you are looking at it; it is the patterned outer layer and it provides traction to the road. The tread is made of synthetic and natural rubber, and it is actually attached to the tire using a machine that resembles a waffling machine. It is, in other words, pressed on, heated, and then melted onto the tire.
The sidewall adds support to the outside of the tire and protects the inner parts.
Body plies are most often polyester cords inside of the tire and they also provide support and strength. Most passenger tires have two plies; to give you an indication of strength, airplane tires can have upwards of thirty plies. There are also cap plies which are additional cords, but you normally only see these on race cars or cars designed for high speeds on the roads.
Belts are between the tread and the body plies, and usually they are made of steel. They provide support so the tire will stay flat against the road. Beads are the part that sit against the wheel and are made of thick rubber so they don’t damage the rim.
Other than those, most tires have inner liners which help seal the tire and keep up pressurization, and the valve stem, which is used to put air into the tire.
Obviously it is a good idea to always check air pressure in the tire, and also check for wear and tear on the outside; to prevent this, have your tires rotated on a regular basis. Wear on the sides is often caused by improper balance, or sometimes because of improper torque from engine to transmission to wheels.
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