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Feb 12, 2019 09:32:07

Why are all car tires black?

by @brandonwilson PATRON | 304 words | 192🔥 | 192💌

Brandon Wilson

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Lexus has designed an all-white tire. It looks to be a proof of concept and not actually designed for mass manufacturing. This got me thinking, why are all car tires black (except for some with white walls)?

It turns out the first tires that were invented in 1895 were actually white. You can see these on pictures of some of the first vehicles. The natural color of rubber is a milky white, so making a black tire requires extra work. In the early 1900's, tire companies figured out that adding a chemical called carbon black to rubber greatly improved the durability and strength of the rubber. This addition is what led to tires being black.

The added benefit of black tires is that they are easier to clean and maintain. Lighter-colored tires would show the wear and dirt from the road right away. 

For this same reason I wonder why so many sneakers are white. It turns out, for shoes they use fumed silica, which has similar properties to carbon black but leaves the rubber white. Fumed silica does not provide tires with the same durability as carbon black, so it is rarely used for tires. 

So why are most sneakers white? You would think white is the most difficult color to keep looking clean and new. A quick search on Quora says that many sneakers are worn in gyms in which there are bans on shoes that would leave markings on the gym floor. White soles do not leave markings. Also, the manufacturing process for white rubber creates a less dense product that is lighter and more suitable for shoes. From a fashion perspective, white is a popular color that goes with anything. I'll take other people's opinions on this one as I have about as much fashion sense as spidey sense.

  • 1

    @brandonwilson When I was neck deep in the "Disco Days" my Cadillac had what are called "Gangster Whitewalls." As far as shoes, always black.

    Mark Armstrong avatar Mark Armstrong | Feb 12, 2019 17:27:25
    • 1

      @RealNegotiator I know exactly what those are. Smooth.

      Brandon Wilson avatar Brandon Wilson | Feb 12, 2019 16:50:57
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