So why exactly are tyres black and why can’t drivers display a little automotive exuberance by adding some colour to their rubber?
Here’s all you need to know about why our car tyres only come in black…
It’s the question yo never knew you wanted to ask
Tyres haven’t always been black, have they?
No they haven’t. In fact, the natural colour of rubber is not black at all – it’s milky white.
So why do manufacturers make them black now?
Originally, soot was added to the rubber compound. This was found to improve the durability and stability of tyres – it also made them black.
Is that why they’re black today?
No! The soot has been replaced by a chemical compound called carbon black. This combined with other polymers is used to create the ‘tread’ and improve the lifespan of a tyre. Without this, we’d been changing tyres much more regularly.
How does the carbon black make tyres last longer
One benefit of the compound is that it diverts heat away from the tread and belt areas of the tyre – extending its lifespan. It also acts as a ‘sunscreen’ for your tyres; protecting them from harmful UV rays which can make the rubber brittle and unsafe.
I have seen cars with white-walled tyres, though
Show cars from the 50s and 60s often have white wall tyres, but these are mainly for display and not suitable for daily driving.
What else is carbon black used for?
Carbon black particles are also used in some radar absorbent materials in combat aircraft and in photocopier and laser printer toner, and other inks and paints. A version of it is also used in some types of food colouring. Appetising!
More essential info about tyres… give your rubber an instant health check
Few things are more important on your car than tyres – they’re the only parts that touch the road – so make sure yours are in good shape.
This is where to find the tyre’s manufacture date. Week 39 of 2015
Tyre age – how to find out yours right now
Old tyres can be extremely dangerous and some unscrupulous sellers will save cash by fitting ancient rubber to new cars. You can, however, find out the exact age of a tyre courtesy of a code that’s printed on it. Find out how to reveal the age of your tyres here.
Speed rating – make sure your ‘boots’ are up to the job