You might have been wondering why tires are black or you just figured out that tires are always black. It can be interesting to see other colors of tires, but why are tires always black?
The main reason tires are black is because of a carbon black chemical that is added to the white rubber during manufacturing. We shall learn more about the benefits of carbon black later in the guide. First, let us understand the original color of rubber.
Original Color of Rubber
In its natural color, rubber is sticky, white, and milky in color thanks to the latex material from the rubber trees. So ideally, the color of tires should be white or any other color, but it seems we are stuck with black for a while now.
The latex is obtained from trees by making incisions in the tree’s bark and letting it flow out. An acid would then be added to the white latex liquid to end up with natural rubber.
The one harvesting latex should always time it correctly. This is because it would only flow out easily when it is cold outside. If the temperature rises, it solidifies making it hard to flow out of the rubber trees.
It is common to find harvesters getting the latex as early as 2 to 5 in the morning when it is the coldest.
Reasons Why Tires are Black
The natural rubber used to make tires is still white. So, where does the tire get the black color?
At the manufacturing plant for tires, the workers would now add a chemical called carbon black and that is when the color of rubber changes.
Carbon black is simply carbon in tiny particles. This would be the byproduct of fossil fuels that occur because of incomplete combustion.
So, why is carbon black preferred over the other potential materials?
The primary reason for using carbon black is to improve the durability of the tires. Considering how the tires would heat up when driving, it is important to maintain the durability of such a car component.
The carbon black material would largely help in dissipating the heat build-up from the tires to leave them serving you for longer.
The other reason for adding carbon black to the rubber material is to prevent potential damage to rubber due to UV rays. Since tires will often be exposed to UV rays, it is important to maintain their performance with such a compound.
If you look at tires that lack carbon black compound, they often end up hardening and can easily deteriorate with time. Carbon black would deter the hardening of tires.
Here is a video on how tires are made
Looking at the earlier cars, you may notice that they had white tires. This was because instead of using carbon black, they used zinc oxide to strengthen rubber. Zinc Oxide is white, this meant that the color of rubber would remain white.
Tire manufacturing companies found that carbon black had superior durability properties to zinc oxide. That is how they ended up switching to carbon black to fortify the rubber material.
At first, carbon black was just used for the treads only. The sidewall would still be made with rubber fortified with zinc oxide. That is why such tires would have a white sidewall and black tread area.
The popularity of whitewall tires dwindled with time. That is how black tires took over with now improved manufacturing processes in place.
Can You Buy Colored Tires?
The good thing about tires is that black is not the only color available. It is possible to sometimes come across other colors too but chances are it will only be a section of the tire, not the whole tire.
A good example is when BFGoodrich introduced the Scorcher T/A tires. These tires had color strips on their treads. You had the option of red, yellow, and blue. After a while, you could consider other colors too based on preference.
These tires were on the market for a few years, but there were so many controversies and expensive prices that led to their unpopularity of the tires. Also, you could only see these strips from a certain angle. This meant the aesthetics were not the best.
- Colored sidewalls
You would also come across colored sidewalls common in Formula One racing. There are up to seven colors to consider including yellow, white, red, and many others. Of course, there is the option of customizing the colors to suit your preferences.
- Full-color tires
There is still limited information on this, but a tire company in China now produces colored tires. You can get different colors that you wish. The minimum order you can get from the company is 500 tires.
You can be sure that such tires would mostly be used for decoration. Using them on the road might not be legal.
- Gender reveal burnouts
Gender reveal parties have taken a different turn from the usual kind. Right now you have the option of using burnouts to show the gender of the child.
Such tires often have a special rubber compound designed to deliver maximum smoke and color too. The tires can look black but when there is burnout, the colored smoke is different.
It is possible to come across many colors of these tires. It all depends on the application.
How to Maintain Black Tires
When you first buy the tires, chances are you will like how shiny they are. However, that changes with time giving you a tired look. So, how would you maintain black tires? Here are the tips to follow.
1. Rinse the tires
Make sure that the tires are rinsed correctly to remove as much debris and dirt that might otherwise cake them.
Use the high-pressure setting to remove the tough spots of mud or dust that might be on the tires. Taking the car to a local car wash can also help keep the tires clean if you lack a pressure washer at home.
2. Always wash them thoroughly
Rinsing might be good but it should not stop with that. Next, you have to consider washing it thoroughly too including the sidewall too.
Invest in a high-quality tire cleaning spray to remove as much dirt as possible. Leave the soapy solution on the tire for a few minutes then start rinsing to remove as much dirt as possible.
Here is a video on how to clean black tires correctly.
3. Tire dressing
Once you are done with rinsing the dirt, focus also on dressing the tire. Get a tire dressing product from an auto store to make the tire give off a black and sheen look. It would look as if the tires are still new.
Just make sure you follow the instructions of the tire dresser to have it looking great generally.
Why are tires black rather than white?
The black color is because the manufacturers add the carbon black compound to the natural rubber to improve its performance.
Can you buy colored tires?
Yes, it is possible to have colored tires too when looking for a fun way of using tires. However, just check their legality in your area.
How often should you apply tire dressing?
You can apply based on the look of your tires. Most people would apply once a month to maintain the sheen look of the tires.