In order to understand the tyres on our cars, it is crucial to first know exactly what a tyre is, how it is made and what minimum requirements it has to meet in order to work effectively and safely.
A tyre is a pressure-carrying vessel. The air under pressure in the tyre is what enables it to carry the load of a complete vehicle with occupants.
In order for the load to be maintained or carried, the tyre needs to hold and retain the pressure inside it.
Of course, that's not all that tyres need to accomplish.
Being the most direct source of contact between car and road, the tyres transfer vehicle power to the road, change the direction of the vehicle, cancel the momentum of motion when needed and cushion the load - all while dealing with different speeds, road surfaces and temperatures.
Tyres need to deal with all the forces of forward and stopping motion, torque or immense pulling power as well as fending off impact with objects on road surfaces or curbs, rumble strips and such-like.
A good tyre will accomplish all this without the driver even noticing it, which is probably the way it should be.
The tyre is indeed a special element of any motor vehicle and it needs to be taken care of if it is to achieve its potential and provide safety for both driver and occupants.
The tyre is basically an assembly of a number of different components, each with its own special function or responsibility.
Individual components are pre-manufactured and then assembled before being put into a mould and heated for a specific period.
While the mould gives the tyre its final shape, the most important process that takes place when the parts of the tyre are in the mould is the curing and bonding, bonding being a kind of welding together of all the components with heat.
The components can be viewed in the accompanying picture.