When you think of your tires, do you really know how they are made? Or do you even consider all the work that goes into making them? Behind every tire is years of research, special formulations and testing of the tires before they even come to the market. I was invited to visit Michelin last month and learn more about their tires, tour their factory and even drive on their test tracks to see just how their products line up against their competitors. We learned a lot about the products, tires and how they actually effect your drive, safety and just when you should change your tires.
From the Largest to the Smallest – They make them all!
Michelin makes tires for more than just your car. They make never flat tires, ones for luggage haulers and even ones for large farming equipment. With 19 plants throughout North America they take tires seriously and each one is has its own formulation. It’s not just the tires we see on the road that Michelin is making but ones that help move some of the biggest and smallest vehicles. Each one has a unique tread pattern too that helps it get the vehicle through whatever job it’s currently doing.
They have over 200 different Chemicals in their Tires
That’s right! It’s not just rubber in your tires. From metal wiring, fabrics and proprietary compounds there is a lot that goes into your tire. And different tires have different chemical mixes. Why? Different uses, different weather and elements they will be exposed to. Each tire takes years of research by engineers before you’ll ever see it. They are working on some now that will come to the market in a few years. What exactly is in the tire? Well, we don’t know either but it took years to develop and make sure that they keep you safe.
Mr. Bib – he’s over 100 years Old and Looking Better Than Ever
The Michelin Man, Bibendum or also known as Mr. Bib is the mascot for Michelin and has been since the 1890’s. Originally depicted holding a martini and a cigar, he’s changed quite a bit. We agree, the original one looks a bit weird and creepy now! He’s white in color because the first tires Michelin sold were actually made out of white rubber material – not the black that we use today. Over the years, Mr. Bib has slimmed down, dropped the martini glass and cigar and is much more hug-able, but he still maintains the white tire color from his younger years.
Yes, They’re the Same Company that Gives Out the Stars!
I know what you’re thinking – what do tires have to do with Chefs? Well, back in 1900 the Michelin brothers wanted to create a reason for people to travel more (and therefore need more tires). So they started rating restaurants and hotel destinations. This is where the start system started. And to this day, Michelin still gives stars to chefs. It’s the star rating that Chefs strive for, and Michelin as a company today is full of foodies happy to test out different dishes.
Tire Safety is a big deal, and Michelin Takes that Seriously
Before a tire gets put into production they are tested countless times in the factory and on their proving ground tracks. From cutting the tires into pieces in the factory to hand inspection of every tire they make – Michelin makes sure they’re safe before they leave their hands. If at any time there is an issue, they can track back the tire to where and when it was made – down to the operator.
Their dedication to safety goes beyond the factory. Michelin specifically designs their tires to remove water and reduce hydroplaning. They also have a handy bar indicator included in the tread that makes it easy to spot when you should consider getting new tires. They know we’ve paid for 50,000 miles and expect that we will be driving on the tires until we get it, and want our first mile to be just as safe as our last.