Commonly spelt as ‘tyre’ in Britain and ‘tire’ in America, in Kenya we typically use tyre. ‘Tyre’ which wasn’t around until the 19th century, became established as the standard British spelling over the course of the 20th century. The word tyre/tire is a short form of attire, from the idea that a wheel with a tyre is a dressed wheel.
Speed ratings are set in kilometers per hour. This is why speed ratings are unusual mile per hour figures, like Q: 99 mph, or R: 106 mph.
The highest speed rating is Y, at 300 km/h. Z rated tyres came out first, rated at 240 km/h, back when they thought no one would ever need a higher rated tyre.
Lego is the largest manufacturer of tyres. The toy company produces 306 million of the little tyres every year.
Tyres have their manufacture date on the sidewall – it’s called a dot code.
For the first 25 years of the car, all tyres were white. Zinc oxide was added to the rubber for strength, but had a side effect of making bright white tyres. By the second decade of the 21st Century, researchers were looking for more ways to increase durability. Carbon black, a waste product of the petroleum industry, added longevity to the tyre, but changed the color to black.
A genuine high-quality tyre is much more than a piece of rubber; the result of meticulous development and thorough testing, it is a carefully prepared high-tech product involving a great degree of manual work, chemical and technical expertise, precision and high-quality raw materials. No wonder then, that it takes up to four years of development work before a new tyre hits the road.
Tyres are so complex and their uses can be so varied, that standardized wear rates are almost impossible to observe in real world use.