Look Back on the History of Car Wheel and Tire Technology

Look Back on the History of Car Wheel and Tire Technology

Last Updated on April 13, 2023 by

How the Wheel Has Evolved Over the Decades

When we think about how much society has evolved over the ages, we think of technology, communications, and, of course, the Internet. However, there are plenty of other examples that showcase our ingenuity. Custom wheels and tires, for instance, have been reinvented several times over the years. It’s crazy to think that what once started out as a stone circular disc has become a keystone element in the automobile world.

Modern custom rims and tires have come a long way since their humble beginnings. To give you a little history lesson, here is a breakdown of all the major moments in the evolution of wheel and car tire technology.

1888 – The Very First Tire

To kick things off, we need to rewind the clock over 130 years. Benz had produced the very first gasoline-powered vehicle, which was an open concept that drove on three wheels. What made the wheels unique was that they were covered with rubber that was filled with air. Thus, the creation of what was the very first pneumatic tire. Although it took a little while for it to catch on, the pneumatic tire became the standard for automobiles around 1895.

1905 – The Very First Tread Tire  

Up until this point, tires were completely smooth, which didn’t bode well for cars driving on slick surfaces. In the year 1905, a solution was rolled out in the form of the very first tread tire. This variation of tire finally afforded drivers some traction when driving on slick surfaces covered in rain or snow. It didn’t take long before the tread tire was deemed the new standard in the automobile world.

1931 – The Switch from Natural Rubber to Synthetic Rubber

Tires had always been made from natural rubber since their creation. The problem was that natural rubber was getting more difficult to source while demand for car tires kept going up. It wasn’t until 1931 that American company DuPont invented a solution in the form of synthetic rubber tires. By discovering this alternative to natural rubber, it allowed for tire manufacturers to keep up with growing demand.

1947 – The Very First Radial Tire

Even with the roll-out of tread tires made from synthetic rubber, there was still a long way to go in terms of how well they performed. In the year 1947, there was a large leap in progress made with the release of the very first radial tire. These tires utilized a design in which cord plies were arranged vertically to the direction they were going to be driven. The end result was that cars got better fuel economy and the driving experience felt much more stable.

1979 – The Roll-Out of the Run-Flat Tire

After 91 years, the modern tire still had one big problem that engineers had not yet managed to devise a solution for – punctures. Once a tire was punctured, that usually meant the car would no longer be drivable until a replacement tire was put on. However, in the year 1979, the run-flat tire was released to the market. The big selling point for this tire was that drivers would be able to maintain high driving speeds in the event of a puncture. So, rather than being stuck on the side of the road, drivers would be able to get their cars to their nearest auto shop for a replacement tire.

The 1980s and the Invention of UHP Tires  

By the 1980s, cars were no longer point A to point B cars. Consumers also had the option to buy high-performance vehicles that promised a more exhilarating experience. The only problem with that was there was no tire in existence that could keep up with these speedy new vehicles. Not until the release of the ultra-high performance (UHP) tire, that is. These tires allowed drivers with high-performance vehicles to brake better, accelerate faster, and take tighter corners than ever before. It was a must-have for those who owned a Ferrari or Porsche.

2012 – The Very First Non-Pneumatic Tire

Although the run-flat tire was great about affording drivers a little extra time to get a replacement tire, engineers had yet to hit paydirt on a tire that would never go flat. However, in 2012, the invention of an airless non-pneumatic tire (NPT) was successfully rolled out through the combined efforts of Resilient Technologies and the Wisconsin-Madison’s Polymer Engineering Center. The NPT allows military Humvees to drive on the toughest terrains possible without the risk of incurring a puncture. Our fingers are crossed that, one day, such tires may be available to regular consumers.

How to Upgrade Your Vehicle with Custom Wheels and Tires

In today’s market, you have more choices than ever before in terms of which types of tires and wheels you can get installed on your vehicle. Automobile lovers know it’s not just about performance anymore, it’s about style and aesthetic, too.

The best way to kick off your shopping process is by searching the phrase “custom wheels and tires near me” or “custom wheels and tires for a [insert your vehicle type].” This should bring back many options for you to choose from. Just remember, changing the wheels and tires on your vehicle may impact the way it drives and its fuel economy. For more details on that, consult your local auto pro so you know what to expect.

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