(NUI) - All things wear over time - cars do, shoes do, and so do tires. And the wear on tires and other products can result in a degradation in performance.
In fact, according to a Bridgestone/Firestone survey, 41 percent of people surveyed who purchased the company's premium tires said they noticed a deterioration in performance of the tires they replaced. The various tire brands they replaced still had usable tread remaining.
So, the company's engineers set out to understand the dynamics of worn tire performance and to discover ways to reduce the performance degradation that can occur over the life of a tire. After a lot of work, they succeeded.
The engineers learned that one of the results of tire wear is rubber hardening, which can impact worn tire performance in some situations. They developed a new type of rubber compound - EPC (Extended Performance Compound) - that reduces the rubber hardening that can result from the heat of friction caused by everyday driving.
In layman's terms, EPC is better than conventional rubber compounds in terms of keeping rubber soft, and softer rubber means better grip. It accomplishes this without adversely affecting tread life.
The tire engineers also developed a new tread design called Dual Layer Tread that exposes high-grip rubber as wear progresses. A tire with Dual Layer Tread contains two layers with different kinds of rubber in each tread, both with EPC. A higher grip rubber, employed for the base layer under the cap, is exposed as the tire wears. This minimizes the effect of wear on worn tire performance and helps maintain more consistent handling.
Bridgestone/Firestone is marketing the combined EPC and Dual Layer Tread technologies under the name of EPO - Extended Performance Optimization.
According to the company's testing, a worn (50 percent tread remaining) ultra high-performance tire with EPO provided an average of 8 percent better wet stopping distance at 50 mph than the same worn tire without the technology. (Actual stopping performance will vary with the type of vehicle, type of brakes, road conditions and other factors.)
Consumers interested in trying out the new technology should look for the Bridgestone Potenza S-02 Pole Position tire featuring UNIT-AQ, a comprehensive group of technologies including EPO. This particular ultra high performance tire is designed for cars such as the BMW M3, Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche Boxster and Toyota Supra, but next year the tire company will introduce several tire lines with UNIT-AQ that fit a broad range of automobiles and light trucks.