Why are modern car tires black?


Posted by: Hassana Obi

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The history of black car tires is as far back as WWI. What made the tire industry take on this revolution to replace white tires?

Why don’t manufacturers use other colors other than black for their car tires? Is it that they want their products to be more fancy with those colors? Are you just like us with these questions popping in your mind? Relax then as Naijauto.com brings you the answer.


The early days of car manufacturing, when white tires were made

Scientific reasons for black car tires

Actually, tires in the early days of 4-wheel vehicles weren’t black. The first tires were recorded to be on the Ford Model T, which rolled out in 1908 and they were white in appearance. Early cars came equipped with tires of not only different colors but various sizes as well.

A revolution of colors would not occur till World War I when black carbon was added to rubber compounds in 1917. This helped the tires better handle the issue of premature tire wear (10 times better, as claimed by Michelin), and which was backed by Spectroscopy of Polymers written by the renowned chemist Jack Koenig.

Video: Do you know- Why tires are black (Black Tyres)

Besides preventing premature tire wear, black carbon has been proven to divert the effect of ultra-violet rays that cause cracks, thus increasing the overall handling by improving the tread. Black tires are also preferable when it comes to cleanliness as dirt can be seen more easily when on bright colored surfaces.

>>> More knowledge about car tires: Types of tire, features & applications

Supported theory on why car tires turned black

The story is rooted in the Ford Piquette factory as narrated by Jack Seavitt, a tour guide of the factory. He explained that black tires appeared as a result of the lack of bullets in World War I.


Black tires have 3 main benefits: Durability, better tread, and cleanliness

In the early 1900s, tire manufacturers came up with the idea of using magnesia for increasing the durability of the tire. However, Magnesium oxide was needed for the production of weapons. The government told the automotive industry that they couldn’t make use of brass anymore, and neither could they use magie oxit.

For this reason, the tire manufacturers took upon themselves to find an alternative, and they found black carbon.


Most modern cars use black tires. Only a few use colored tires to enhance their looks

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However, other sources claimed it was not Magnesium oxide but Zinc oxide that was replaced by black carbon as stated in Reinforced Plastics or The World Rubber Industry.

We can’t be sure how black tire truly started being manufactured but one thing is for sure: World War I was a milestone for the tire-manufacturing revolution.

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Hassana Obi

Hassana Obi

Car prices

Hassana Obi is an automobile writer and editor at Naijauto.com. She prides herself on hundreds of informative and entertaining articles on Nigerian traffic regulations, car prices and celebrity car collections. When Hassana is not writing, she is a teacher and philanthropist.

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