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The Truth about Worn Tyres

The strategy of the Michelin group is to develop sustainable mobility solutions to improve its customers' mobility. The Group improves design, manufacturing and management of product and service offers. Michelin minimizes the use of resources to reduce their impact on the environment and society. Designing products with very high levels of performance from the first to the last kilometre forms an integral part of this approach.

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All tyre manufacturers, car makers, industry test bodies, and consumer organisations focus on the testing of tyres when new…. and most importantly the large differences in performance that exist when new. But the truth is that every tyre once fitted on a car and driven, starts to wear, and the more it wears, the more the specific characteristics of a tyre change. But the truth is that every tyre fitted to every car is worn; as soon as one begins driving on the new tyres they start to wear, and the more a tyre wears, the more the specific characteristics of the tyres change. By the law of averages, every tyre on every vehicle is half worn, but how do they perform? Who is doing the testing of these half worn tyres?

Tyres wear out; and the tyre performance changes as they wear out – for example wet braking performance will worsen over time. All tyres are not equal when they are new – what our tests at Ladoux have shown us is that tyre performance is even less equal when worn! In fact the differences are very much accentuated once a tyre is in the latter stages of its life. Quite surprisingly we have discovered that some tyres worn to the legal limit have a wet braking distance virtually the same as some new tyres… and this is one of our Corporate messages; tread depth is not a good indicator of wet braking performance.
Reinforcing our test results, recent independent studies have reported that there is no demonstrated link between accident rates and tread depth. And of course, thanks to the 6,000 people Michelin employs in its Research and Development activities, today’s tyre technology makes it possible to have high levels of grip right down to the last millimetres of tread. We want to raise awareness of this and we believe that all organisations and all consumers should start to ask and consider both new and worn performance of tyres before purchase.

Additionally, if tyres are changed early, before the legal limit, this reduces the useful life of the product, and consumers would make unnecessary purchases. This would also have an adverse impact on the environment. So, early tyre removal has a huge environmental impact and also represents a significant and unjustified increase in costs for consumers.

You may be asking at this point, why is Michelin doing this? If tyres were removed earlier they would sell more!! It’s a good question, and certainly many manufacturers in many industries play the card of ‘programmed obsolescence’, that is to say an ever shorter life of their products. However Michelin has made the opposite choice, the one of the ‘programmed longevity’. Sustainable performance is the key to our business strategy because we consider customer satisfaction with our products is paramount; our direction is not the disposable but on the durable! Today we want to encourage the tyre industry to commit to the same voice: Responsibility, sustainability and performance... for all of our customers around the world.

At Ladoux, innovation has consistently improved new and worn tyre performance for many decades, and as a result of our event ‘The truth about worn tyres’, you will see that the only criteria for safety is tyre performance, NOT tread depth.


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