While most of America was nestled up in their comfy warm houses recently, Steeda was at the Transportation Research Center (TRC) test track in East Liberty, Ohio with a leading tire manufacturer testing various tire applications to evaluate tread noise, test tire adhesion properties, and improve overall tire performance in both wet, snowy, and frigid conditions. TRC is one of the few tracks in the world to offer this level of testing sophistication and only our vehicles were there during this comprehensive testing session. Closed to the public, this facility has virtually every road surface imaginable and also a vast variety of skid pads, high and low speed ovals and also various race track configurations.
At Steeda, our regularly conducted tire tests occur on the race track (Sebring), drag strip (South Georgia Motorsports Park), on the street, and at special road surface research centers like the TRC. How many other aftermarket companies are dedicated enough to do cold and wet weather tire and suspension testing in addition to the more normal temperature and dry condition testing that we do? This is what separates Steeda from the rest as we continually serve the best interest of our customers in everything we do. We test against the elements so that when you need our products to perform, they will under any conditions – both good and bad.
This collaboration of Steeda and tire engineers had the combined mission of refining and developing the latest emerging tire technology with the quest of producing a tire that provides not only superior performance, but also superior safety under the wide variety of driving conditions you may encounter.
Tire testing is no easy task and is virtually impossible for the everyday driver to properly and completely evaluate tires accurately because, in addition to the “seat of the pants” experience you obtain by doing this for many-many years, complicated and often proprietary equipment is utilized to accurately measure a tires performance characteristics under varying conditions and temperatures. Following is a brief, yet accurate summary of what tire testing is all about.
What makes up a tire today?
Tires today are extremely complex in their construction and manufacturing. While they might look like simple pieces of rubber in a round shape, that assessment couldn’t be farther from the truth. The inner workings of modern tires are incredibly complex and are becoming more and more complex with every new generation of tires that evolves. There’s a vast amount of materials used in sidewall and tread pattern production, including steel, polyester, Kevlar, and other more unique materials. Additionally, there are a vast variety of different rubber compounds used to produce different heat ratings, speed ratings, and load limits. Add it all together, and you can readily see that there is a substantial amount of engineering and chemistry that goes into the development of each tire today. These added complications are a necessary ingredient in formulating a tire because incremental improvements require them.
The Tire Testing Process
Usually – non-laboratory tire testing is performed on a group of tires with similar performance characteristics. Specifically, a group of high performance tires will likely be tested together at the same day under the same driving conditions. With each new test, the tires will be mounted onto the same vehicle and undergo the same tests in order to offer consistency to the testing process. By conducting the same tests, it’s possible to test how different variables affect a particular tire as compared to other tires. Some of the tests we employ address everything from braking on dry and on wet surfaces, handling at low and at high speeds, and handling during acceleration and deceleration.
The test results allow our engineers to compare tires on much more than how the tire looks in theory on paper or how much it costs to manufacture. Instead, we are able to find tires that are perfect for the vehicles we manufacture parts for and make sure that our performance parts leverages the maximum amount of performance available. In summary – tire testing offers excellent insight as we select and recommend tires for our Ford performance enthusiasts, as well as confirmation that our performance parts and accessories perform as designed under all driving conditions. It is one of many “behind the scenes” things we do on behalf of our Ford performance customers – we affectionately call it: “The Steeda Difference”
Steeda – Speed Matters