I bought a truck recently and it came with tires made (partially) with Kevlar.

What advantages do Kevlar automotive tires have over tires made with more traditional materials?

Reading through DuPont's page on the topic is not very enlightening: it has a lot of fancy, vacuous words that do not give much in the way of practical information.

I read a review of a Goodyear tire with Kevlar but it talks about the tire as a whole, which includes some other aspects which set that tire apart. It does not give a clear indication of how the Kevlar sets the tire apart from other similar tires.

Given two tires, one reinforced with Kevlar and another that is not, what tradeoffs would there be between the two tires? How are they different? Why would I, as a driver, choose to put one or the other type of tire on my vehicle?

  • 1
    Great question. – Zaid Sep 13 '16 at 22:34
  • Kevlar was originally created because DuPont wanted to make a polymer that could replace the steel cords in tires. It is used for that, but the reason why it typically isn't is because of cost. – Ryan Jan 19 at 2:39

Since what it does it pretty well close held, I'll have to take a stab at this in the dark, but I think it's an educated guess.

I think there are two things which set it apart: weight & toughness

First, most radial tires use steel for the belts. The belts are interwoven steel threads which are about as wide as the tread of the tire. This makes the tire stand up to many of the hazards which we find on the road, like rocks or potholes. Steel, as we know, is pretty heavy. Kevlar, on the other hand, is much lighter than steel. Kevlar can also replace the steel cord which is used in the bead where the tire mates to the rim. It is just as strong as steel (if not more so) at a fraction of the weight.

Secondly is the toughness. Kevlar has more resiliency than does steel. Steel strands can over time start breaking if stressed enough. Kevlar, on the other hand, will stand up to flexing with out self destruction until it starts to wear due to exposure. Inside the rubber it is completely encapsulated, which makes it fairly impervious to any type of stress fracture. While it should be noted most steel belted tires will not suffer this fate, either, it could happen a lot easier with steel than with Kevlar.

  • Interesting ideas, they make sense. Can you think of any drawbacks? Maybe cost? The tire I linked is marketed as a premium tire with a cost to match, so that comes to mind. – user4896 Sep 14 '16 at 0:54
  • Absolutely cost ... whether because of marketing hype or actual increased cost passed on (or both) I'd think it's a real thing to consider. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Sep 14 '16 at 1:00
  • Actually, kevlar's first use was in tires according to a cursory search. It's more like, oh wow, the kevlar tires are so good you can use them for bulletproofing. – lericson Jan 19 at 15:58

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