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# Tire Basics

Tire mixture

What’s in your tires?

It's easy to take your tires for granted, but that black ring on the wheel of your car contains so much more than just plain rubber. In actual fact, it’s a complex blend of different rubbers – natural and synthetic – plus a whole host of other chemicals and construction materials. Expertly mixed and combined, our rubber compounds are sophisticated enough for a variety of driving conditions.

On average, a modern tire on a passenger car will contain up to 25 components and as many as 12 different rubber compounds. It all starts with natural rubber extracted from special trees grown in large plantations. This liquid (latex) coagulates with acid, is cleaned with water and pressed into bales.

Synthetic rubber, meanwhile, is created in a separate process using a mix of chemicals in the laboratory. During the manufacturing stage, these bales (both natural and synthetic) are cut up, weighed and mixed with other ingredients according to precise recipes.

The textile industry supplies base materials (rayon, nylon, polyester and aramid fibers) for the manufacture of cords which serve as a reinforcing material. 

Tire material 2

Steel for strength

The steel industry supplies high-strength steel. This serves as the raw material for the manufacture of steel belts (steel cord) and bead cores (steel wire).

Tire material

A material for every component

We can break a tire down into its components to see where each material comes in. Let’s start at the road surface and work our way inwards.

  • Tread – natural and synthetic rubber
  • Jointless cap plies – nylon, embedded in rubber
  • Steel cord for belt plies – high-strength steel cords
  • Textile cord ply – rubberized rayon or polyester
  • Inner liner – butyl rubber
  • Side wall – natural rubber
  • Bead reinforcement – nylon or aramid
  • Bead apex – synthetic rubber
  • Bead core – steel wire embedded in rubber

By the numbers

We can also look at amounts of materials used. Let’s take a look at what’s in one of Continental’s most popular summer models.*

  • Rubber (natural and synthetic) 41%
  • Fillers (carbon black, silica, carbon, chalk…) 30%
  • Reinforcing materials (steel, polyester, rayon, nylon) 15%
  • Plasticizers (oils and resins)¹ 6%
  • Chemicals for vulcanization (sulphur, zinc oxide…) 6%
  • Anti-ageing agents and other chemicals 2%

Of course, a different compound of materials provides different properties for different tires. The precise mix of ingredients matters.

Tire components

Materials to suit the season

The mix of materials used in a tire will depend on its purpose. The soft compounds in summer tires become hard below 7 °C, compromising grip. But winter models offer special technology that keeps them flexible and helps maintain grip – ensuring top performance, even in low temperatures. Living in a mild climate? All-season tires can provide an ideal solution.

Materials for quiet comfort

ContiSilent™ is a noise-reducing technology developed by Continental. It reduces interior noise on all road surfaces. How? ContiSilent™ tires feature a polyurethane foam absorber attached to the inner surface of the tread area with an adhesive. Regardless of the temperature, the structure of the foam stays intact. Even at high speeds, the ContiSilent™ absorber reduces road noises inside the vehicle by up to 9 dB(A).

Tire interior view

Tried, tested and guaranteed

Manufactured from only the highest quality materials, Continental sets high standards – particularly in safety. Before any Continental innovation goes into production, it is tested intensively. Testing is carried out on every winter and summer tire. This is done under all kinds of weather and road surface conditions, using the most modern testing methods and measuring technology.

Every test follows one simple purpose: making driving safer.

* 205/55 R 16 91V ContiPremiumContact 5
¹ As of 2010 stringent mandatory limits are in effect in the EU explicitly for plasticizers classed as harmful to health. Thanks to the use of alternative types of oil, Continental tires remain well below these limits.

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