Why Aren't Car Tires Made The Natural Color Of Rubber?

Your car tires are black for a reason, and it has nothing to do with the attractiveness or sophistication of black as a color. Read on to find out more about black tires, why they're better than tires of other colors, and why you should not invest in colored tires (even though some novelty colored tires do exist).

Tires Used to Be White

In the early days of automobile tires, pure rubber was mixed with a variety of additives to improve the durability of the treads and the tire itself. The most popular and effective additive in those early days was zinc oxide--the same white substance that people use to protect their noses from the sun. The effect this had on the rubber (in addition to strengthening it) was to turn it a pure white color.

Enter Carbon Black

This white color remained the standard until a company called Binney & Smith started making and selling a product called carbon black. When mixed with rubber, carbon black is much more effective at reinforcing tires than zinc oxide. Carbon black makes tires more durable and road worthy. It works by adding weight to the tire. Carbon black reduces the tire's road-wear abrasion (the amount of tire left behind on the road) and increases the tensile strength (which is the ability of the tire to stay intact even when opposing forces attempt to rip it apart).

Combination Black and White Tires

Binney & Smith eventually went on to make school products and wax crayons, but carbon black became an essential ingredient in tires and quickly replaced all other additives. When black was first introduced to automobile tires, it was common for the tread alone to be made black while the rest of the tires stayed white. These tires, known as white wall tires, were popular through the early part of the 1960s.

Carbon Black Makes Tires Road Worthy

There are some novelty companies (including some makers in foreign countries) that make colored tires today, and these tires can make appearances in car shows and car displays. However, carbon black is still widely considered to be the best additive for any rubber tire. Without carbon black, tires may not be road worthy and may not perform up to today's standards. If you're on the search for new and different tires for your car, you might find some wacky tire colors on novelty websites. The best thing you can do for your car is to stick to the black colored tires.

For more information about auto tires, contact a company like Bearsch's United Auto Center.