Photo © Patrick Thornton, SSP
Department of Brilliant Ideas: South African Regional Office.
An 18 year-old student at Rondebosch Boy's High School in Cape Town, South Africa named Phillipe Lothaller has invented a device that could possibly reduce the wear on airplane tires by 35 to 45 percent, and like so many great ideas, it's literally forehead-slapping, why-didn't I-think-of-that kind of simple.
Like any good engineer, Lothaller found the solution by properly defining the problem: When a large airliner lands, it's moving extremely fast, but the tires aren't. The instant the plane hits the runway, the tires must immediately spin up to speeds in excess of 100 mph. That's incredibly stressful on the tires. It causes a lot of heat buildup very quickly, and tends to both throw chunks of rubber off the tread and delaminate the layers of rubber. Modern aircraft tend to be able to use a tire for about 200 landings before it must be retreaded, and the number of possible retreadings is limited.
Photo © Pirelli & C. S.p.A
Pirelli began this year's F1 season by providing tires that were designed to degrade a bit faster than last year. Apparently many F1 teams were getting through races on only one pit stop, and the idea was to ensure at least 2-3 stops per race. That idea has now officially backfired. 4-stop races like the latest Spanish Grand Prix - which featured a total of 82 pit stops - have become all too common. With some rather spectacular tire failures added in, Pirelli has now thrown in the towel, announcing this week that they will be making both construction and compound changes to the tires.
Nissan is recalling 123,000 2013 model year Altimas because the spare tires were improperly inflated due to a faulty pressure gauge in one of their assembly plants. The spare tires can possibly blow out, especially if the trunk heats up. Owners are being asked to bring the cars back to their dealership for inspection and possible replacement.
Photo © Nokian Tyres, plc
I had, as I have noted, a somewhat bad experience with Nokian's WRG3. I tried pretty hard, and I believe that I succeeded in not letting that experience color my entire review, however I did feel that I had to take that and other aspects of the drive into account in writing a review that was not all that I or Nokian had perhaps hoped for. Certainly as a longtime fan of the WRG2, I was not happy to knock the WRG3, and like any tire company would be, Nokian was not happy to hear that I did not consider the WRG3 an improvement. Consequently, Nokian has asked me to post their opinion in rebuttal, which I am happy to do. Here's what they had to say:
Photo © Hankook Tires
Still looking for a Mother's Day present for that special Mom in your life? Have you thought about tires? No, I'm not crazy and I'm not obsessed with tires. Much. According to Hankook's Spring Tire Gauge Index, a quarterly poll of Americans on all things related to driving, 59% of mothers surveyed would like to receive tires for Mother's Day. This is actually down a bit from last year, when 70% of mothers said they would like to receive tires for their special day.
When you think about it, it's perhaps not as crazy as it sounds. If your Mom or wife is not someone who spends a lot of time thinking about tires, they may not have a good idea what kind of tires are right for them, and trying to figure stuff like that and deal without can be an ordeal. Making sure Mom has the right tires says a couple of very important things, like that you care about her safety and comfort. It also says that you put some thought into what they really need, and while it's not always just the thought that counts, knowing that you put real thought into a gift really does count for a lot.
My wife said as much last year in response to an informal poll of all American drivers who happen to be married to me:
"Giving Mom a set of tires says: 'I want you to be safe!' It also means that she doesn't have to go to the tire store and deal with salespeople, sizing issues, or figuring out what kind of tires to buy. You've taken care of it all for her."
In other news from the Hankook survey:
- 29% of mothers said they would love to get a set of tires for Mother's Day, and 52% of fathers said they would love a set of tires for Father's Day.
- 34% of mothers would like to take a road trip for Mother's Day while only 18% of dads would like to for Father's Day.
- 58% of Americans said they will be driving 50 miles or less to Mom's house for Mother's Day.
Taiwanese tiremaker Federal Corporation will be recalling 8,513 of their Couragia A/T tires. The affected tires are size 265/75/R16 116S.
DOT numbers on the recalled tires are UX773210 - UX770813. The tires were manufactured between August 9, 2010 and February 24, 2013.
NHTSA reports that the tires are being recalled due to failure to pass durability test requirements, specifically excessive heat buildup, which causes tread shoulder chunking and eventual tire failure. Which is bad.
Federal Corporation will replace the tires free of charge at the end of April or early June 2013. For more information, go to NHTSA Campaign ID Number: 13T003 or call 855-444-8250
For more information about tire recalls, see How To Check For Tire Recalls
Photo © Cambertire, LLC.
John Scott seems extremely enthusiastic about his tires. But by all accounts he has every right to be..
"Now with a Cambertire the interaction between the ground and the car is completely different. First of all you're able to use much more camber than you ever could with a square tire and get better tire wear than you could ever get on a square tire..."
"Square" tires is how Mr. Scott describes ordinary, standard tires, with a casing profile that is, well, square. Mr. Scott's tires, on the other hand, are anything but square, and in the wide-ranging course of an hourlong interview he told me all about his Cambertires. John Scott has invented a tire with a constantly variable diameter, according to his patent. In other words, they slant. The inside diameter of the tire is less than the outside diameter and so the tread surface slants from sidewall to sidewall..
This does a couple of important things. First, it allows drivers to use lots of camber; a useful alignment setting that tilts the tires to help performance, but one that is hell on square tires that don't like running tilted. With Scott's Cambertires, you can put in lots of camber because the tire will then be sitting flat to the ground with a full contact patch. Second, since the tires are smaller on the inside, when you put them flat on the ground, they want to roll in a circle.
A few key findings from the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study, released recently.
The study found that drivers with run-flat tires showed less satisfaction with their cars, had to replace tires more often, saw an average of 6,000 miles less treadlife and would not recommend run-flats to their friends.
"Automakers are trying to reach the next level of fuel economy, and are looking to their suppliers--in this case, tire manufacturers--to help them get there," said Brent Gruber , director, global automotive division at J.D. Power and Associates. "The challenge is doing this while finding tires that meet customers' expectations. Run-flat tires are not currently meeting those expectations."
In a bid to expand their OTR and farm equipment tire lines, Michelin announced yesterday that they have acquired US tiremaker Titan International, Inc.
The multibillion dollar deal, if cleared by antitrust regulators in the US and EU, will seal Michelin's position as the world's largest manufacturer of heavy equipment tires. Michelin's Vice President for North American Operations, April Fuelle said of the deal, "This merger will extend Michelin's manufacturing capacity for OTR and heavy equipment tires, allowing the company to make inroads into Chinese and Third World markets where the use of construction, mining and farming equipment is steadily increasing."
Ivalo Testing Center
Photo © Nokian Tyres, plc
Correction:In the original version of this post, I said that the WRG3 had changed to an asymmetric tread from the WRG2's directional tread. As was pointed out to me both by an alert reader in the comments below and by Nokian, that turns out not to be the case - the the original WR had a directional tread, but the WRG2 has always had an asymmetric tread. D'oh!
It's amazing how pompous one's opinions can sound when the fact they are based on is completely incorrect. Getting this wrong is my fault and mine alone, and I hate getting things wrong. I have therefore rewritten this post and the WRG3 review to better reflect reality.
As Day 3 of my trip to Finland dawns, I am busy donning my cold-weather gear. It's actually supposed to be a beautiful sunny day with very little wind, but in Finnish Lapland, a "beautiful day" means temps of around -20 C, so long underwear and layers of fleece is a must-have. Kitted up, I walk out of my room with a skier's swagger. I'm warm, I'm feeling technical and I'm ready to go driving in the white stuff.
First, though, we have a briefing on the tires. Matti Mori is the Technical Customer Service Manager for Nokian Tyres, meaning that he's the guy to tell us all about the technology behind the world's best snow tires. Here's the rundown:
Hakkapeliitta R2: The R2 gets a new high-silica tread compound with crystalline grit imbedded in the rubber for ice grip, along with some new siping innovations.
Hakka R2 SUV: The R2 SUV gets all the stuff that goes into the R2, plus a stiff center rib and a more aggressive tread pattern.
WRG3: The successor to the famous WRG2, a tire with no equal, sees the most change. Improvements in tread compounding, including nanotechnology that comes from the Europe-only WR A3 and D3 tires, new siping patterns and anti-slushplaning improvements highlight the technology packed into these tires.