The Truth About Worn Tires: Not All Tires Are Created Equally. #sponsored @MichelinCAN #truthaboutworntires #bdkMichelinCa
11 May 2018
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Michelin Canada. The content and opinions expressed here are that of Big Daddy Kreativ.
Have you ever wondered why tires differ in price, or why there are so many types of tires? I used to. Being in the automotive industry, I am well aware that tire manufactures work with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to create new tires, or pair existing tires, to their vehicles. But, I was not aware how differently those tires perfumed, until just recently.
Over the years, I have purchased many tires. From all-seasons to winter tires, regular road to aggressive off-road tread, spanning several brands and many different price points. Some tires performed well, and some did not. Some of those tires lasted a long time, and some didn’t. Depending on what I could afford at the time, I purchased what I felt was the best tire for my use.
Doing My Research
Fast forward a few years, I started to research tires within Facebook groups or online forums. I didn’t just want to know how well a specific tire would perform when I bought it. I also wanted to know how long they would last. When spending a lot of money on tires, you definitely want to know you are getting the most for their money. As well, you want to ensure that a solid warranty is in place, in case of road hazards or defects.
It wasn’t until I received an email from Michelin that posed the question, “how well will a tire perform when it is worn?” that I seriously thought about anything other than value, warranty, or longevity.
Not All Tires Are Created Equally
Most drivers understand that all tires are not equal. There are credible tests from independent agencies that tell us so. But, do you realize that worn tires are even more unequal? All of us drive on worn tires as soon as we leave the dealer’s showroom, or the tire shop.
While longevity of the tread is important, thinking about how that tire will perform with that tread is more important. As your tires on your vehicle wear down, their performances change. Braking distances can change drastically over the life of the tire.
But did you know that some worn tires perform better than some new tires, especially in wet handling and wet braking situations? I got to experience both of these situations first hand, and it was a real eye opener for me.
The Truth About Worn Tires
I was invited to attend The Truth About Worn Tires event at Michelin Laurens Proving Grounds in Mountville South Carolina (just south of Greenville), to experience how a tire performs when it is brand new, and when it is worn down to 3/32”. Michelin wants worn tires to be tested, and those results be made available to consumers, just like new tire testing. This will help the consumer in their buying decision.
Michelin Laurens Proving Grounds is Michelin’s on-vehicle test site for North America. It is one of the largest testing facilities of its type in the world, with 12 different testing tracks that span 3500 acres. There are 41 full-time employees, which include drivers, engineers, mechanics, maintenance, test support, and security.
It’s important to know that even though this is a Michelin facility, lots of research is performed here, not only by Michelin, but by many major auto manufacturers and others. Usage includes tire testing, driver training, special events, and much more. It really is the ultimate one-stop testing and evaluation facility.
The Financial Cost Of Early Removal
The amount of money wasted from prematurely replacing tires is astonishing. $25 Billion dollars wasted. Costs drivers an average of $250 every two years. That’s an increase of 40% in tire cost for the same number of miles traveled.
What does this mean? By taking the inexpensive way out of only considering value and warranty in your purchasing decision, you could be spending more in the long run.
The Environmental Cost Of Early Removal
What is the environmental cost of removing tires that are not performing well when worn? A lot!
400 Million tires a year go to landfill sites. As well, 35 Million tons off carbon dioxide emissions globally… which is about the same as New York City’s entire CO2 emissions for 6 months! Makes you want to think twice before purchasing tires that should have traction, even when they have been worn.
So we have covered the financial and environmental costs of prematurely replacing tires. Now let’s talk about safety. Prematurely replacing tires occur when the tires are no longer safe to drive on. But, they should be safe to drive on until they reach the worn indicators. So why are we replacing tires before that point? Likely, because those tires are an inferior product. Remember, not all tires are created equally.
The Three Components of Wet Adherence
These three tire components work together to give you a tire that will perform well when in wet conditions, both brand new, and over time. These three features cannot be featured in isolation… they all work together, for maximum traction.
Adherent Rubber Compounds
It is important to use the right materials in the rubber compounds of a tire, as well as the right mixture. Silica content in the rubber compound is key, especially for wet traction. The right combination of material = maximum safety and tire performance.
Effective Tread Pattern
An effective tread pattern will have adherent grooves and biting edges, to give maximum grip in wet handling conditions. The adherent tread pattern works in conjunction with adherent rubber compounds, and footprint shape. All three need to be present for maximum performance.
Proper Contact Patch Shape
The contact patch of the tire makes a big difference in wet driving. With a rectangular patch, the water is just pushed forward, keeping the water in the tire’s path. With a round contact patch, the water is pushed out and away from the tire’s path.
I was really excited to test out 4 tires on the wet handling course. But first, we had a briefing with the Michelin experts and pro drivers on the track we would be driving on, the conditions we would be driving in, and the types of tires that would be on the vehicles we would be driving.
The vehicle we would be driving for this exercise was a small cross over vehicle, with all manufacturer badging covered (so I will not mention it). The vehicle doesn’t really matter since it’s held constant.
… and then, we needed to get outfitted with helmets, that Michelin personalized with our social media handle. Such a nice touch, and made for a great photo opp!
Michelin outfitted each vehicle with a GoPro bracket, and we were all provided with a GoPro camera to follow us to each vehicle. At the end, we were given the SD card.
In the footage above, you will see me driving 4 identical vehicles, with 2 different brands of tires. I was able to test both brands in their new and worn state.
As you can see by my reaction, I was pretty surprised that a worn tire can perform better than a new tire in wet handling conditions.
Our next course was the wet braking course. Again, I would be driving 4 identical vehicles, with 2 different brands of tires; both brands in their new and worn state.
In the video footage above, I only captured the worn state of both brands of tires.
Once again, I was pretty surprised that a worn tire can perform better than a new tire in wet braking conditions. It was clear that not all tires are created equally.
Michelin brought in Jason Fenske from Engineering Explained to talk to us about the range of performance in tires, specifically when they are worn down to 3/32”, and used in wet conditions. Jason spoke with us in a way that we could all understand, whether we were well versed in vehicles and technology, or were just someone who drove a vehicle and wasn’t aware of how things functioned. He used a few apologies and simple references to help us understand the importance of why we were there… the range of performance you can find in tires, especially when they’re worn and used in wet conditions.
“It’s a simple safety message that’s easy to get behind: as consumers it’d be great to know how a tire performs when it’s nearly fully worn, versus when it’s brand new. Third party new tire tests are certainly important in the buying decision, but it’s much less obvious how that tire changes as it wears, and it’d be awesome if there were third parties that took on worn tire testing.” ~ Jason Fenske
It is great to see Michelin working with journalists, bloggers, and influencers, to help everyone understand the importance of knowing how tires will perform during their entire life, and not just when brand new.
Let’s Join In On The Conversation
The technology exists to design and manufacture a tire that will perform well in wet conditions, when the tire is new, and when the tire is worn. The design of the tire should be maintained throughout the life of the tire.
Michelin has not just started the conversation about The Truth About Worn Tires, they are encouraging consumers and other tire manufacturers to join in on that conversation. Let’s join them by encouraging third party testing on worn tires, and making sure this valuable information is available to consumers when researching the tires they are buying. If this information is made publicly available, it will definitely make the buying decision a more educated one, based on safety, which is the most important factor when buying a wear-and-tear item for your vehicle as important as tires. Remember… the brakes stop the wheels, but the tires stop the car.