Foam-filled tires: analyzing Tesla tire foam technology

As soon as it comes to new technologies, the name of the technology giant, the Tesla Corporation, comes up. It’s hard to see their vast array of different products, each stuffed with seemingly future-proof technology. In this article, we will talk about Tesla tires, or rather, their unusual composition and properties.

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Polyurethane foam? What’s with the foam?

The thing is, the technology of pneumatic tires is not the only one. For over a century, there has been automobile tire technology, inside which is a flexible foam material, which extinguishes fluctuations and resists deformation along with air pressure.

Now, in any Tesla model, starting with the S and X models, we use foam-filled tires, not air-filled ones. So what’s the difference between the Tesla tire and any other tire for an ordinary car owner? If tire technology has been on foam for years, why should we think of it as something new and a breakthrough in Tesla cars?


Noise absorbing properties of foam-filled tires

Tesla electric cars are very different from conventional combustion cars. In the latter, the main source of noise is directly the engine itself, complex, with many moving parts, noise from the operation of heated gases in the cylinders, and the operation of the exhaust system.

Whereas in the Tesla electric car, the electric motor itself is much simpler, it has fewer moving parts and generally produces an order of magnitude less noise.

Therefore, the championship in the overall contribution to the noise in the car Tesla goes to the friction of Tesla’s tires on the road surface.

To solve this problem, Tesla began to use acoustic foam-filled tires rather than conventional pneumatic tires, as their internal acoustic foam has a strong sound absorber and much less than its air-filled competitors transmits sounds of cavity noise to the car interior.

By the way, Tesla did not invent or patent a modern version of this technology. Moreover, it does not produce such tires in its factories, but rather uses tires manufactured by other companies such as Continental for its vehicles.

This giant company has developed and successfully implemented its ultra-quiet tires under the “ContiSilent” brand, stating that the noise level in the car could be reduced by 9 decibels by using these tires, which in terms of perception of sound by the human ear is significantly quieter.

Another giant company collaborating with Tesla and supplying it with foam-filled tires, Michelin, also has its own patented version of sound absorption technology called “Acoustic Technology”, which guarantees a 20 percent reduction in tire noise.

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And now, a little technical detail about the foam tire system.

This significant noise insulation is provided not only by the foam itself but also by the special tread depth, as well as the composition of rubber for tires.

Hankook SA

And the foam lining, by the way, doesn’t take the whole volume inside the tire. It is attached from the inside to the surface of the tire to the width of contact of the tire with the roadway.

Mechanical vibrations arising at the tire-road contact point are partially alleviated by the special tread pattern on the tire surface.

So the only function of the tire foam layer is noise reduction, and such tires still need proper tire pressures. But what! You can try to imagine what 9 decibels of difference are for a normal person driving in a car: it’s the difference between a scream and a quiet conversation, and in music, it’s the difference between a forte and a mezzo piano.

The reduction of the noise level by nine decibels is about 15 percent. Let us also recall that such figures are stated by Continental for its tires, while Michelin guarantees a reduction of noise by as much as 20 percent!

In any case, this reduction of background noise will make the trip much more comfortable.

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Tires, designed specifically for electric cars.

In principle, Tesla tires filled with foam can be used in any machine, whether it is an internal combustion engine, electric or hybrid. However, there are several nuances.

They will perfectly reduce tire noise on any type of car, so you can safely put the ContiSilent or other tires on your Toyota or Volkswagen and enjoy reduced noise in the car at highway speeds.

However, it must be understood that the design of these tires was developed by Continental and Michelin in close cooperation with Tesla, specifically for Tesla Model S and Model X.

The thing is, first of all, Tesla’s electric cars are very heavy.

They weigh almost two and a half tons – like the Toyota Land Cruiser.

This weight, as well as other mechanical properties of this machine, make them especially demanding to the quality and reliability of tires. Therefore, the tires for such vehicles even have a special marking – EV (electric vehicle), which implies that such tires can withstand increased mechanical loads.

And the noise reduction properties are just a nice addition to the overall outstanding performance of these tires and are part of the standard set of tire properties for electric vehicles.

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What’s the last thing we want to say?

So it turns out that the owners of Tesla cars, unlike the owners of cars with internal combustion engines, are very limited in the range of tires that they can use.

However, the quality, unique performance, and other advantages of such tires more than compensate for these limitations.



Can you repair Tesla tires with foam?

Repair and maintenance of foamy tires are not very different from the repair of regular tires. The principles of patching – the same, poured foam is simply removed, closing the hole.

Do Tesla tires have foam?

The tires used in modern Tesla models (Pirelli tires) are manufactured by Continental Tires Company and Michelin specifically for the Tesla and contain a layer of sound-absorbing specific polyurethane foam substance.

What’s special about Tesla tires?

Tesla’s tire designs are designed specifically to support electric vehicles with high instant torque and increased safety. Tesla always utilizes high-performance radial tires with thicker side surfaces that ensure maximum durability.

What does Tesla put in their tires?

Tesla uses acoustic foam in the tires of its all contemporary models.

Also Read: Do Teslas have special tires? 

Cameron Mason

I have been fond of cars since childhood. I have always been interested in knowing the principle of their work, as well as the structure. Therefore, I liked to help my father dismantle cars and fix them. Then I went to college with a degree in mechanical engineering. After all, I decided to connect my life with cars.

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