A recent series of internal “wet-braking” tests conducted by Michelin North America indicate some worn tires perform about the same or better than some new tires. Scott Clark, the company’s new chairman and president, noted recently the industry standard is to test performance 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.
“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 – and we are starting a long-term discussion about performance standards for worn 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.
The company noted it conducted internal tests comparing 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, which is typically at 2/32-inches, as defined in many states.
This finding about the performance of worn tires offers some significant financial advantages for 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, which has a massive impact on landfills and other end-of-life disposal networks, Michelin said.
For more information: www.michelinman.com