Vehicle: Car: Tire
Tire Wear Gauge   (+3, -3)  [vote for, against]
Diagnostic System for Tires

Tire wear is normally the first indicator of suspension problems yet it is normally not until damage to the tire is extreme that these problems are noted. This leads to a long term unsafe condition and a ruined set of tires.

This 2 part system would allow for diagnosis of problems much sooner.

The first part involves a wear gauge component that is built into the tires tread component. This would consist of a set of diagonal bars of slightly harder rubber that would extend across the entire width of the tread and the the entire depth of the tread. As the tire wears it will slowly expose different layers of these wear strips. These could be read by a mechanic, visually or using a UV lamp. This would allow for use on non monitor equipped vehicles. The layout of the bars would show what areas of the tires are wearing at what rate and in what pattern. Even wear would show realtively uniform wear accross the entire bar. uneven wear would show as different wear rates in differnt patterns.

The second component of the system would be a small monitoring system that would visually scan the surface of the tire while driving using UV or Infrared light to visuallize the wear indicators. If the pattern of wear on the indicator exceeds certain thresholds the system could notify the driver. This could also indicate when sufficient wear has occured to require rotation of the tires or when tires are running out of tread. This system could be integrated into exisiting driver control systems to account for tire condition in the settings used(worn tires will not handle well in slippery conditions so system could adapt and apply less torque.
-- jhomrighaus, May 17 2006

Tire mold http://www.jetlaser...Download/Safety.jpg
A good photo of a tire mold, with tread pattern clearly visible. [gardnertoo, May 18 2006]

[phlish] Thats what I ready had in mind just didnt explain it very well. This would be something that would not be obvious unless you were looking for it. The pattern of the tread should be absolutely identical to the rest of the tire.

The layering or rubber hardness differences would need to be developed in such a way as to no effect normal tire wear but this is more a trial and error type approach. The goal was a simple and effective way to gauge wear. you can currently do this by visual inspection combined with a tread depth gauge and a notebook, but this is time consuming and is generally not done as frequently as should be. Many suspension troubles can lead to uneven tire wear within a couple hundred miles, but the wear will not be obvious to the naked eye(or ear) for many thousands of miles(again usually after the tire is too worn to be saved)

Second part of system might also be able to tell the car what type of tires are installed so that it can better tune the ABS and Traction control settings for the tires and conditions.
-- jhomrighaus, May 17 2006

[phlish] why out of curiosity do you think the second part is not feasible?
-- jhomrighaus, May 17 2006

It would be vary expensive to make tires like this. I don't know of an easy way to cast the tires in layered colors. It might be more feasable with pre-made rubber bars inserted into the tire like was mentioned, but this would still add cost and probably reduce the strength of the tire.

It might be possible to make the tires in a spinning mold, with different colors of rubber being added one after the other to make thin, even coats of color.

Would it be possible to make a mechanical tread depth gauge that would work while the tire was spinning? Maybe some type of comb-shaped device that would run through the grooves or channels in the tire.
-- discontinuuity, May 17 2006

A basic Laser system could do this as well. As to tires, they already inlay different colors into the treads(see BFG) so laying in something else should not be difficult. As to Strength these need not be large to do the job. I would think this should be fairly easy to implement. Yes it would probably cost more in the beginning but there is nothing fancy here.
-- jhomrighaus, May 17 2006

Another reason that an optical system would probably not work: tires would pick up dirt from the road and become darker as you drive.

I think the idea with lasers might work, but you would have to ask yourself if it was really worth it.
-- discontinuuity, May 18 2006

IT would be a seriously cool thing to be able to brag about. "my car has laser tire monitoring system that tells me when to rotate my tires". I mean if your gonna do it, why not do it with style.
-- jhomrighaus, May 18 2006

To answer [rasberry re-tart]'s comment: the way tires are manufactured, it would not be difficult to create a tread containing multiple layers of rubber in different colors. Tires are not inflated or cast from liquid rubber, but are assembled from dozens of individually manufactured pieces of uncured rubber. The tread piece is made of a different rubber formula than the sidewall, which is different than the rim, etc. To make tread, a smooth, continuous sheet of thick, tire-width rubber moves down a conveyor and is cut into tire-circumference lengths by a moving knife. This is wrapped around the rest of the tire on a form before molding. In the mold, a bladder inflates inside the uncured tire, pressing the soft rubber into the tread patterns and text patterns in the mold. The tire is baked to vulcanize the rubber, and a tire is born. See the link for a photo.

The tread could be made from multiple layers of color, much as the sidewall already is. The white letters are a layer of white rubber under a very thin layer of black rubber, the top layer is ground off at the factory to reveal the white, just like the road will grind down the top layer of tread. Can-do. +
-- gardnertoo, May 18 2006

The only problem I have with this idea is that it is already baked to a certain degree. Depending on the brand and model, some tires actually have wear indicators that are molded horizontally between the treads to give you an indication of how much tread is actually worn away. Trained professionals know how to detect uneven tire wear and suspension problems in the early stages so if you have your car in the shop regularly you will be able to do something about the problem before it becomes a REAL problem.
-- Jscotty, May 19 2006

How about layering the color of the tire, so you can see the contours of the wear, and know to change the tires when they are down to red, say?
-- DrCurry, May 19 2006

Why not just layer in color, ie once 1/4" is worn off, bright yellow tire is visible. Why are car tires always black?
-- sninctown, May 19 2006

Actually those wear indicators are used to indicate when you have exceeded Minimum Tread depth. By design they will not accurately indicate a number of suspension problems as they do not occur uniformly around the tires radius. The key here is rapid diagnosis of suspension problems so small subtle changes become important.
-- jhomrighaus, May 19 2006

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