Technology Empowers Tire Consumers

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TPMS was a significant advancement, alerting consumers to low air pressure. PHOTO Shutterstock

Today’s consumer is demanding more information about the products and services in their life. 

That’s because they know that information is power.

But despite all the flashy digital readouts on their dashboards, consumers don’t really know that much about their cars. They rely on their mechanic or their garage to know when their oil needs to be changed, or when their brakes need to be done. 

Years ago, motorists could only monitor their tire pressure with a gauge and by checking the door jamb. Now, most cars have tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), which can alert drivers to low tire pressure. 

Some companies, such as Cooper, have introduced treadwear indicators, where a patch of rubber is designed to show you when it’s time to replace the tire. 

Internet of things

But now, tires have a component that communicates with the car and the driver to indicate when a tire is wearing, if one is wearing more unevenly than the other, or the pressure is uneven. 

Gabriel Granatstein, CEO, Canada Tire. PHOTO Courtesy Canada Tire

“It’s about the evolution of the internet of things,” explains Gabriel Granatstein, CEO of Canada Tire. “Tires are going to be part of that.” According to Granatstein, the trend of intelligent tires is about equipping people with information to make a good decision.

He predicts that tire manufacturers are going to have to work closely with car manufacturers to make sure that cars can read the information, or they can bypass the car entirely and build technology that sends it right to your phone. “Ultimately, I would assume having all that information feed into the car would be easier for the end-user.”

A possible scenario might include a tire sending a message to the dealer with whom the motorist is registered, to provide information that the tires are wearing out and need to be replaced. At that time, the dealer would contact the motorist and ask if they want a new replacement set of tires to be ordered.

These systems would be based on consent, and consistent with privacy regulations, so that motorists wouldn’t feel like Big Brother is looking over their shoulders. But Granatstein thinks that many consumers would benefit from the additional information. “People underestimate safety when it comes to tires,” he says. “People spend a lot of time thinking about the safety of their car and ignore the safety of their car. Those four small patches that are in contact with the road are the most important thing.”

Tire contact patch

According to Aaron Neuman, product development manager at Nexen America Tech Center, the main benefit of intelligent tire technology is increasing vehicle safety. TPMS was a significant advancement, alerting consumers to low air pressure, which can, in turn, affect long-term tire durability and vehicle stability. 

But new intelligent tire technology takes it a step further, by giving the vehicle and driver more information about what is going on at the tire contact patch, such as the remaining life and tire health.

Worn tires can be dangerous, particularly on wet, icy or snowy roads. Not only does this warn the driver that the tires need to be replaced, but the data can also be used by the vehicle’s ESC and TCS systems to proactively adjust how the vehicle reacts in low traction situations. 

“Ultimately, the goal is to completely eliminate tire failures that could occur from road hazards, overloading, or operating at very high temperatures by warning the driver before the failure happens,” explains Neuman. 

Various technologies can collect the data, either using sensors in the TPMS on the wheel or in a battery-powered patch on the inside of the tire. The data is sent wirelessly to the vehicle or a device where algorithms are used to process it and send warnings to the vehicle. Servicing the sensors is similar to changing out a TPMS unit. 

Cloud-based algorithms

Last year, Goodyear launched Goodyear SightLine, an intelligent tire solution for cargo fan fleets. Using sensors with cloud-based algorithms, this technology can communicate with fleet operators in real-time. 

SightLine, a proprietary predictive maintenance technology, can help to address many challenges by predicting breakdowns, minimizing breakdowns and monitoring tire pressure and wear for better safety and more cost-efficient mobility.

Goodyear has done extensive testing on SightLine, which helps establish the groundwork for a connected tire future. It’s hoped that tire intelligence will be a part of all new products by 2027.  


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