Continental knows all about contact patch
It will seem incredible, but all the technical perfection of a modern car – the impact of its engine, steering precision, suspension settings, smart auxiliary systems – depend on four small sections of the surface the size of an adult’s palm each. Approximately as much is the bearing surface of the tire, called the contact patch.
Continental is one of the world leaders in tire grip reliability. The concern’s specialists are able to extract maximum characteristics from the surface of the contact spot; it is not for nothing that the name Continental premium tire ranges includes the word Contact: SportContact, PremiumContact, EcoContact, Winter Contact, IceContact.
What determines the size of the contact spot, its shape and reliability of adhesion explain the company’s specialists.
1. Tire design
The perfect tire imprint approaches the shape of a rectangle. It is important that the contact spot retains its area and shape as much as possible, not only with uniform rectilinear movement, but also in fast bends, with sharp braking and acceleration. For this, the design of the carcass, breaker, tread is developed with the calculation of a uniform and optimal distribution of pressure on the surface under various driving conditions. For example, SportContact TM 6’s flagship tire company, the new adaptive hybrid Aralon350 TM breaker top layer, helps maintain the shape of the bearing surface at high speeds of up to 350 km / h.
2. Tread pattern
The coupling surface of the tread depends on the size and shape of the blocks, as well as on the percentage of the negative profile – the system of channels and grooves. Some sports tires, called slicks, to increase traction and do not have any drainage channels and are used only on a dry, flat surface. Also, developers pay more attention to maintaining the shape of the blocks and their supporting area in extreme modes. So in the new summer model of the current season, PremiumContact TM 6 was able to significantly reduce the deformation of the central ribs and blocks of the shoulder area at high speed due to the features of their configuration, as well as by adding special polymers to the rubber compound.
3. Optimum tire pressure
If the tire pressure is lower or higher than recommended, this also affects the shape of the contact patch. At low pressure, the main load falls on the shoulder area, the central part of the tread works less, which affects the handling, as well as acceleration and braking dynamics. With overpressure, the load, on the contrary, is transferred to the central part, and the shoulder area is slightly raised, thereby reducing the grip of the tire in turns. Continental’s special Vizion Zero accident reduction program pays great attention to the recommended tire pressure. In particular, experts say that approximately half of the cars on the roads are operated with the wrong pressure. This significantly reduces tire life, increases fuel consumption, negatively affecting the environment, and increases the risk of an accident. Therefore, Continental recommends checking tire pressure every two weeks..
4. Tire Size Guidelines
Grip of the tire with the road depends not only on the area and shape of the contact spot, but also to a large extent on the composition of the rubber compound and the coupling edges of the tread. It is also important to consider the weight of the car, the distribution of masses at the fulcrum and, as a result, the tire pressure on the surface. Continental, in tire homologation, works closely with car manufacturers and takes into account their running and weight characteristics. Therefore, the optimal choice is the tire size recommended by the automaker for a specific vehicle model.
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