One of the main causes of vehicle breakdowns in the UK is punctured tyres, which is an inconvenience if it happens on the driveway but a major safety concern if it happens while on the move.
A punctured tyre can be a particular problem on motorways where motorists may have no option but to stop on the hard shoulder or in a live lane on smart motorways where often no hard shoulder exists at all.
Even limping to a refuge area represents an added and unnecessary danger to motorists.
With 375 miles of smart motorways now criss-crossing the UK, of which there are 235 miles without a hard shoulder, being able to keep moving even when a tyre is punctured offers clear safety advantages, which is where technology such as Michelin’s SelfSeal system comes into its own.
“Tyres with Michelin Selfseal technology offer a real bonus in terms of safety,” explains Mark Perbaums, Executive Vice President Sales, Original Equipment at Michelin, “because they repair themselves while the vehicle is still moving. The driver isn’t even aware of what’s going on.”
How does Michelin Selfseal work?
Michelin Selfseal seals a hole in the tyre tread at the very moment it is made.
At the heart of this technology is a thin layer, few millimetres thick, of tough sealant based on natural rubber which is applied to the inside surface of the tread.
If a nail or screw punctures the tyre and the sealant, the pressure inside the tyre immediately forces this tough mass against the foreign object as it penetrates.
This stops air escaping from the tyre, and the tyre pressure stays constant.
If the nail or other object falls out as the vehicle drives on, or if it is removed, the sealant is immediately forced after it, reliably sealing the tyre.
Selfseal tyres will plug around 90 per cent of all tread punctures with a diameter of up to six millimetres that have been caused by nails and screws.
Tyres equipped with Michelin Selfseal technology don’t need to be replaced prematurely when they’ve been punctured, either, so vehicle owners can continue using them right up to the end of their service life.
Together with state-of-the-art tyre pressure monitoring systems and the trend of using RFID technology to network tyres, this solution produces a system that makes driving even safer and more dependable.
Although the layer of sealant makes the individual tyres a little heavier, overall, this technology actually saves weight by mitigating the need to carry a spare wheel or a repair kit.
Perbaum added: “The slightly higher weight of the tyres has a positive impact on rolling characteristics and therefore on the driving performance of the tyres.
“The higher mass actually provides a smoother ride and reduces outside noise, too.
“This is a major plus point for electric cars in particular, since there’s practically no engine noise to be heard.”
Michelin Selfseal technology is available in a number of its tyre ranges – including the eco-designed e.Primacy that has been specially designed for cars powered by electricity.
Thanks to low rolling resistance, these tyres improve the energy efficiency of an electric vehicle, extending its range by up to seven per cent.
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