Tread depth is important for traction, and the grooves in your tires are there to help channel water away. So Continental is developing a small cylindrical sensor about the width of a nickel to go inside the tire and monitor the depth of the tire treads. Continental calls that an electronic tire information system, (eTIS).
In such a system, the dashboard would feature a warning light near the odometer; Continental says its eTIS could also integrate with cars' infotainment systems, letting you schedule a service appointment when your treads are getting a little worn down.
You'll have to wait for the eTIS system to make its debut, though: Continental's Anad says it won't be available until the 2017 model year. Another reason to keep a penny on hand at least for a few more years.
Most tires' grip and treads degrade and wear over time. A new tire from Michelin, the Premier A/S tire with EverGrip, has grooves that expand with wear; it also features new grooves that emerge over time, helping to improve the tire's grip in wet weather. EverGrip tires are made from a proprietary blend of silica and sunflower oil and could be very helpful in rainy climates.
Some cars don't have spare tires, instead offering drive-flat tires or extended mobility tires; BMW is an example of one automaker who offers this on its cars. Up until recently, only certain luxury cars could be equipped with these kinds of tires, but Bridgestone's new DriveGuard tires let you drive on punctured tires for up to 50 miles and at speeds of up to 50 mph. The tires have reinforced sidewalls made with a proprietary Nano-Pro Tech compound to support the car even without air and cooling fins that reduce heat and friction. DriveGuard tires are available in 32 sizes for cars not originally equipped with run-flat technology for tire pressure monitoring systems.
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