What Are Belted Tires?
Belted tires represent a significant evolution in tire technology. Unlike the standard bias-ply tires, which have two or more nylon cords beneath the tread rubber, belted tires include additional belt layers—often made of steel or other robust materials—within the tread area. These materials serve to fortify the tire’s carcass, enhancing its ability to resist deformations due to the rigidity provided by the inner materials.
Types of Belted Tires
There are several types of belted tires, each with unique features and benefits. Here’s a brief overview:
Steel Belted Radial Tires
These tires feature steel belts for reinforcement, which are placed under the tread area. The radial construction means the tire’s body plies radiate out from the center of the wheel. Steel belts provide excellent strength, improved tread life, and better puncture resistance. They also contribute to better fuel economy by reducing rolling resistance and offer improved handling due to their rigidity.
Fabric Belted Tires
Instead of steel, fabric belted tires use layers of fabric such as nylon, rayon, or polyester as the belt material. The fabric belts are lighter than steel and can offer a smoother ride with better absorption of road irregularities. However, they might not provide the same durability and puncture resistance level as steel belted tires.
Bias Belted Tires
These tires are a hybrid of bias-ply tires and belted construction. They have the diagonal ply construction of bias tires but with added belts (usually steel) under the tread. This combination aims to provide better handling than traditional bias-ply tires, while still offering the robust sidewall characteristic of bias construction. They are not as common today but were a step in the evolution towards modern radial tires.
Aramid or Kevlar Belted Tires
Aramid belted tires are high-end tires that use aramid fibers, which are very strong, lightweight, and resistant to heat. Kevlar is the same material used in bulletproof vests. Tires with aramid or Kevlar can withstand extreme conditions and are often used in off-road, performance, or heavy-duty applications. They offer excellent toughness and durability, and because of their lightweight, they can help improve handling and steering response.
Do All Modern Car Tires Have Belts?
Yes, virtually all modern car tires have belts. The term “belted” refers to the belts of steel, polyester, or other materials that run around the tire beneath the tread. These belts provide structural support, improve durability, and help maintain the tire’s shape under stress and at high speeds. Belted radial tires are the standard for modern vehicles. They offer improved handling and longevity compared to the older bias-ply tires.
Are Belted Tires Better?
Belted tires are generally better than non-belted tires in terms of performance and durability. The belts, typically made of steel, provide greater strength and stability to the tire’s tread area, which can increase tread life, and enhance puncture resistance. They also help maintain the tire’s shape at high speeds, leading to a more consistent contact patch with the road.