Advantages and Disadvantages of Radial Tires

April 9, 2012

Learn the difference between radial tires and bias ply tires, and the pros and cons of each type.

Radial Tire

There are two classifications of tires: radial tires and bias ply tires. The classifications are based on a tire's construction and its features.

A radial tire features transverse radial plies that run perpendicular to the direction of travel. This assures less heat buildup and a softer ride. Moreover, radial tires are manufactured with the plies laid radially which results in a more flexible tire wall. Bias ply tires are manufactured with the plies laid out diagonally, which causes the walls to not be as flexible. Other elements of a radial tire along with each of their safety features include:

  • A tread that protects the interior and assures high grip to the road. It is constructed to provide longer life as well as better maneuverability and durability.
  • Steel belts that give stiffness to the tread.
  • A spiral layer for higher durability and maneuverability.
  • A thick shoulder that offers protection for the interior from shocks and damage.
  • A flexible sidewall that protects the interior and offers a comfortable ride.
  • A ply cord, which is the main body of the tire. It holds the inflation pressure and withstands load and road shocks.
  • A bead filler which provides more durability and maneuverability.
  • Bead wires which hold the tire to the rim.
  • A chafer that protects the plycord from heat generated by the rubbing of the bead and rim flange.

Radial Tire Advantages

The advantages of radial tires over bias ply tires include:

  • Flexible sidewalls.
  • Reduced fuel consumption due to less rolling resistance.
  • A softer ride because of the layout of the tire's plies and because of the flex of the sidewalls, assuring more stable contact with the road service and a softer ride.
  • Less vibration.
  • Extended tire life due to less heat generated by the tire.

Radial Tire Disadvantages

The disadvantages of radial tires when compared to a bias ply tire include:

  • Poor transport handling, since low lateral stiffness causes the tire sway to increase as the speed of the vehicle increases.
  • Increased vulnerability to abuse when overloaded or under-inflated. The sidewall tends to bulge which could cause damage and puncture.
  • A ply layout that causes the radial tire to follow a wheeltrack more consistently than a bias ply tire.

The radial tire is more expensive than a bias ply tire which may be considered as a disadvantage. However, the radial tire lasts longer and this results in the savings of money over the long run.

Related Questions and Answers

How Does the Tire Tread Design on Radial Tires Differ from Others?

Tire tread design varies significantly between radial tires and other types, including bias ply tires. Bias ply tires utilize a design in which the tire tread and sidewall of the tire share the same casing plies, which means the strength of both the tread and sidewall is compromised and dependent on each other. Radial tires have separate plies for the sidewalls and tread, which means that more of the tread is in contact with the road at all times. The tread life is also improved with radial tires, as the stresses placed on the sidewall of the tire have less bearing on the condition of the treads.

Is Tire Sidewall Repair More Difficult on Radial Tires?

Yes, tire sidewall repair on radial tires is more difficult than on bias ply tires. While sidewall repair is common on bias ply tires, the fact that separate plies are used to form the sidewall of a radial tire makes it difficult to repair the sidewall. In fact, while tire sidewall repair on radial tires is possible, it is not recommended, as the sidewall of a radial tire is under more stresses than one on a bias ply tire. However, should you want to complete tire sidewall repair on a radial, it is possible using a traditional patch kit, although you should test the tire sidewall repair at low speeds before venturing on the freeway with your repaired tire.

Is Radial Tire Repair More Extensive and Difficult than Other Tires?

Yes, radial tire repair is more extensive and difficult than other tire repair types. Like those that might be encountered when repairing a bias ply tire on a boat trailer or similar. As the sidewall and tread of a radial tire make use of separate plies, punctures that impact both areas must be handled as separate punctures, and separate plugs or patches must be applied. The easiest radial tire repairs to complete are those that must be made to the tread area or sidewall after a simple puncture caused by a screw, nail, twig or something similar. Making too many radial tire repair efforts without replacing a tire can result in a weakened tire that may be unsafe to use.

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