Oct 15 , 2019

Are Airless Car Tires a Good Idea?

When Michelin announced in June that it had developed an airless tire more than a few eyebrows raised. It’s still a ways away from appearing on vehicles, Michelin anticipates a release date of 2024 for the tire, which is based on the “Tweel” it launched in 2005.

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The tire is called the “Uptis” which stands for Unique Puncture-proof Tire System and Michelin is testing the tire on Chevrolet Bolt EVs. As an airless tire, the Uptis doesn’t require regular maintenance and drivers won’t have to worry about flat tires. Uptis tires won’t even need to be rotated, Michelin claims.

The tire, which is 100 percent sustainable and 3-D printed, sits on an aluminum wheel.

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But are airless car tires a good idea? On first glance it sounds great, since around 12 percent of tires are lost annually due to blowout issues, Michelin reports. Another 8 percent are lost due to inflation issues that produce irregular wear. The Uptis also eliminate the need for a spare tire and they weigh about the same as a regular tire.

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Bridgestone has also worked on developing an airless tire but reports that there are issues of debris getting caught in the spokes and difficulties in distributing weight properly. Mud, sand and snow can clog up the spokes and knock the balance of the tire off, as well. The spokes can get damaged as well. Airless tires also get hotter than conventional tires and that poses a danger because it could mean blowouts.

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Another drawback is cost. A Tweel will run from $239 for a zero turn mower to $750 for a UTV.

As Michelin developed the Tweel, early reports noted noise and vibration issues at high speeds. As it stands now, the Tweel has been mostly limited to use on skid steers, golf carts and riding lawnmowers.

Find out how to properly inflate your car tires to prevent irregular wear in the video below.

Family HandymanInflate Car Tires Properly Keeping your car tires properly inflated is a task you should overlook. Tires are one of those expensive items you have to pay for with your car but you can stretch your dollars with a few tips. Make your tires last with these tips. You can make checking your tires easier by learning how to use a digital tire gauge to check your inflation levels.

Overinflated Tire Problems

Although overinflated tires may give you slightly higher gas mileage, they can cause much more serious problems than they solve. Overinflated tires carry the entire weight of the car on the middle portion of the tread.

Underinflated Tire Problems

The center tread puckers toward the rim because there's not enough pressure to keep it in contact with the road. So the full weight of the car rides on the edges. In addition to premature wear, low tire pressure causes excessive heat and possible blowouts.

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