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Understand your tire

Tire components are assembled in a tire-building machine to make a 'green' tire

How tires are made

You know your car is a complex piece of engineering, but few drivers think about all that goes into making a tire. Tires deliver every performance and handling move you make in your vehicle. We explain how they get from the rubber to the road.

Tire components are assembled in a tire-building machine to make a 'green' tire

Blending

As many as 30 ingredients go into the rubber blend of a tire. Different types of rubber, fillers, and other ingredients are placed in machines called Banbury mixers. These giant blenders create a gummy black compound that is sent for milling.

Tire components are assembled in a tire-building machine to make a 'green' tire

Milling

The cooled rubber blend is sent to a mill to be cut into strips. Other elements of the tires are prepared at this stage. This is also when the tire’s structure is formed, from strips of rubber that are cut at the mill.

Tire components are assembled in a tire-building machine to make a 'green' tire

Building

This part of the process involves constructing what’s called a “green tire”. It’s built in a large machine that inserts all the parts into their appropriate places. Since most of its components have been added, the green tire almost looks like a finished product. It has steel belts, ply, tread and textile elements.

Tire components are assembled in a tire-building machine to make a 'green' tire

Curing

At this point tire is vulcanized and given its final shape. It’s placed in a curing machine that compresses all parts of the tire, creates the tread, and adds the sidewall markings.

Tire components are assembled in a tire-building machine to make a 'green' tire

Inspection

Every tire is carefully assessed by trained inspectors. Special machines are also used, designed to spot even slight imperfections. Quality control engineers randomly select tires from the line and cut them open for closer inspection. In addition to this, some tires are chosen off the line and x-rayed individually, to check for internal weaknesses. All tires must meet strict Fulda standards.

The parts of a tire

Ply: The skeleton of your tire is composed of layers of fabric known as plies. Plies reduce elasticity while keeping the tire flexible. They are normally made of rubber-coated cords formed by woven fibers. Your tire is made stronger with a layer called a carcass ply, which is laid directly above the tire’s inner liner.

Beads: These form the airtight seal between the rim of the wheel and your tire. They’re made from braided high-strength steel that is coated in rubber.

Belt: Woven sheets of steel wires are coated in rubber and placed around the tire. These belts offer rigidity and reinforce your tire’s strength. For added durability and enhanced puncture resistance, some tire models include Kevlar cord.

Sidewall: The outside of your sidewall gives the manufacturer information you need to know about your tire. The sidewall itself runs from the bead to the tread. This area of extra-thick rubber provides lateral stability.

Shoulder: A tire’s shoulder is a small beveled edge between the tread and the sidewall. It plays an important part in cornering control.

Tread: The tread is where the rubber meets the road, giving you both grip and cushioning. Many of your tire’s most important features depend on the rubber compound and design of its tread.

Sipe and groove: Your tire disperses water thanks to the deep grooves that separate the tread blocks. The smaller grooves in the tread blocks are called sipes, which are important for gripping snow and ice in winter.

Rib: This reinforcing rib is used in some tires. It runs down the center, which is the weakest area of the tire.