Why Aren’t Tires Solid Rubber?

Till the 19th century, solid rubber tires used to be the norm for every vehicle. But why aren’t tires solid rubber any more? After all, won’t they be more durable and last longer? Have we been had by the tire industry who has sold us an inferior product? Let’s find out.

Every modern-day vehicle that you can see on the roads use air-filled tires. The vehicles that use this type of tire include cars, trucks, and even motorbikes. But this was not the norm back in the 19th century. 

Back then, most people preferred solid rubber tires for their vehicles. So, if you are wondering what happened in between that led to this revolution, then this article is for you. This article will discuss everything that made air-filled tires the primary choice for vehicle owners. 

Why Aren't Tires Solid Rubber

Advantages Of Using Solid Rubber Tires

Why use solid rubber tires over air-filled tires at all? If you are wondering this, then the simple answer to this question is that they are durable. After installing them, you will never have to deal with a puncture in your tire. 

As they are solid any sharp object will not be able to penetrate the tire. This is an advantage in some fields as it makes them very durable. For example, solid rubber tires are still used in forklifts and similar vehicles, in the industries where heavy lifting is necessary. 

You also do need not spend money on the maintenance of the tire. In some cases, bicyclists also use rubber tires as bicycle tires tend to get punctured. In shopping malls, the trolleys with wheels that you can see also use solid rubber tires. 

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Disadvantages of Using Solid Rubber Tires

The primary reason why solid rubber tires are not used is because of the higher amount of vibration that these tires produce, even on normal roads.

A pneumatic tire can absorb shocks better than solid rubber tires, as the former is filled with air. That is why motorsports drivers use only pneumatic tires while racing.

Why Aren't Tires Solid Rubber

Why Should Solid Rubber Tires Not be Used?

A shock absorption system is a necessity in any modern vehicle. It ensures a comfortable ride. In addition to that, the shock absorption system present in the car improves the vehicle’s performance. 

It protects it from getting damaged while braking. Most people are unaware that the tires are an integral part of the shock absorption system. 

If solid rubber tires are used, then as they are very hard in nature, this type of tire cannot be compressed easily and will be unable to absorb the shock with perfection. The presence of solid rubber tires in a car on a bad road can break several parts of a car. 

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Why The Weight and Shock Absorption of the Tire is Important?

The weight of the tire and the shock absorption ability of a tire are essential aspects when choosing the tire for the vehicle. Tires are an integral part of the shock absorption system of a car. 

Shock Absorption

The whole shock absorption system is designed depending on the size of the wheel size. The weight of an air-filled pneumatic tire majorly depends on the material with which it was made, which is the rubber. 

Why Aren't Tires Solid Rubber

Tire Weight

It will become heavy if you choose to go with a solid rubber tire instead of an air-filled tire. Nowadays, most vehicle producers want to make the vehicle lightweight, but installing solid rubber tires will increase the weight. 

Alongside that, installing solid rubber tires in place of pneumatic ones will reduce the braking and accelerating system of a car. This means that you have to spend more fuel for the vehicle to move on the road. 

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Why Are Air-Filled Tires Used in Most Cars?

In 1845, the first pneumatic tire was invented by a Scottish named Robert William Thompson. After the invention, he patented the tire, but due to his misfortune, bicycles were not a popular vehicle among the people. 

Moreover, the tire that Thompson made was too expensive. Later in 1887, another man from Scotland named John Boyd Dunlop built a pneumatic tire for his son’s tricycle. But then, he was living in Ireland. 

Since the first discovery of pneumatic tires, the popularity of bicycles had started to increase. When Dunlop made the pneumatic tire, it became popular among the people in the automobile industry. The use of this type of tire increased exponentially. 

Nowadays, almost every single vehicle that you can see on the roads all across the globe use pneumatic tires, and the reason behind air-filled pneumatic tires becoming normal are mentioned below –

  • Pneumatic tires are lighter in comparison to solid rubber tires.
  • Air-filled tires are available at a cheaper rate, while solid rubber tires are not affordable because of the making material.
  • Whenever you hit a bump on the road, the pneumatic tires will make the inner portion of the tire smaller, thus compressing the air. Due to the compression, the pressure of the tire increases, and the tire will automatically increase. This increase in size will help the tire to regain its shape. 

You can compare it with a balloon. As much as you squeeze a balloon, the outer wall of a balloon will try to resist your hands and push them back. 

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What are the Other Alternatives That Can be Used?

You might be seeking alternatives to air-filled pneumatic tires, but there are no real alternatives unless you are talking about airless tires. 

Airless tires are very similar to solid rubber tires. The most significant advantage of this type of car is that it will never become flat while on the go. 

Like solid rubber tires, airless tires are also used in heavy-duty trucks and airless tires in lawnmowers, scooters, and even golf carts. Just like all types of tires that we have mentioned already in the article, airless tires, too, have their own sets of disadvantages. 

They also suffer from the problem of shock absorption, and some studies also show that overheating becomes an issue with airless tires. This mostly happens when they are used in heavy-duty vehicles as the heat does not get dissipated well throughout the surface. 

However, the biggest problem that you can have with airless tires is that at a higher speed of more than 50 mph, which means 80 kph, the tires produce high degrees of vibration. This vibration is uncomfortable for the driver and as well as for passengers, and it is also capable of causing harm to everyone in the vehicle.

Why Aren't Tires Solid Rubber

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. Do they make solid tires?

Yes, they are still used in industries that require heavy lifting.

Of course, the tire manufacturers do make solid tires. The production of solid tires takes place as these types of tires are durable and stable, and alongside that, they are resistant to puncture. 

Moreover, you also need not spend money to maintain the tire properly. This type of solid tire usually has a higher loading capacity and is highly economical, which is another reason that leads to the production of solid rubber tires.

#2. Why do we not use solid rubber tires? 

Because they are too heavy.

Tires that are made using solid rubber weigh more than air-filled pneumatic tires. As they are heavyweight, this type of tire puts extra pressure on the engine, which increases the vehicle’s load. So, if solid rubber tires are used in the car, it will slow down the vehicle and use more fuel. 

#3. Are there solid rubber tires? 

Yes, they are available for use in a few industries

Yes, you can find solid rubber tires in the market, and though they come at a higher price than air-filled pneumatic tires or airless tires, they have been used to reduce downtime. 

In the construction market, this type of tire is still being produced as they are three times more durable and require less maintenance. 

#4. Is the tire hard rubber? 

They can be both hard and soft rubber. But soft rubber tires are more common.

Tires are usually made by using either hard or soft rubber. In most of the vehicles you can see on the roads, hard rubber tires are difficult to find as most vehicle manufacturers install air-filled pneumatic tires in their cars. You can find hard rubber tires in heavy-duty vehicles and lawnmowers and golf carts. 

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A Few Final Words

In conclusion, we can say that unless and until you are thinking about installing tires in a forklift or a shopping cart, you should not think about using solid rubber tires. You should choose other alternatives such as air-filled pneumatic tires or airless tires. 

Solid rubber tires are not recommended for your vehicle as they are not good enough for shock absorption and are extremely heavy. Instead of solid rubber tires, you can go from one place to another without experiencing any discomfort if you choose to go with air-filled tires. 

Thank you for reading the article, we hope we answered your query. If you have further doubts about tires, how they are made and why they have certain characteristics, feel free to reach out to us in the comments section below.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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