Michelin recently demonstrated the safety, financial and environmental impacts of premature removal for worn tires at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, explaining that a tire’s stopping abilities and other performances can change significantly as it wears.
Scott Clark, who was recently appointed as chairman and president of Michelin North America, presented the Company’s global initiative to improve consumers’ awareness around worn tire performance at the auto show on Tuesday. Currently, the industry standard is to test performances only for new tires; however, those attributes change as tires wear over time, meaning consumers make purchase decisions based on factors that become less and less relevant the more they drive on the tires.
Though safety may be subjective from one driver to another, in the automotive and tire industry safety is typically described through braking distance, and especially wet braking. Tests results show that braking performances among new tires are not equal, but Michelin’s internal tests show that worn tires are even more unequal in their braking performances.
Michelin conducted internal tests that compared braking distances among specific tires in new and worn conditions to reveal how safety performance changes over time. The “worn” tires were buffed to the tread wear indicator, near the end of the tire’s useful life (at 2/32-inch, as defined in many states).
The tests showed that some worn tires deliver wet-braking distances that are about the same or better than other new tires.
“This is a new insight for everyone in our industry, something Michelin believes that all of us need to start thinking about,” Clark said. “What we are referring to as ‘long-lasting performance’ is an issue that involves consumer safety and environmental impact. Michelin is a company that thinks long-term about sustainable mobility, and we are starting a long-term discussion about performance standards for worn tires.”
Making tires that deliver good performance over time has significant environmental and financial benefits as well. Removing tires prematurely costs drivers more than $25 billion globally, accounting for increased fuel consumption and unnecessary tire purchases, according to independent research by EY. Early tire removal also wastes roughly 400 million tires a year worldwide, a massive impact on landfills and other end-of-life disposal networks.