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What Is A Radial Tire? – Here Is Everything You Need To Know

Why Do I Need to Rotate My Tires

If you are wondering, what is a radial tire? The radial tire is the standard design of all current vehicle’s tires in replacement to the bias tires. 

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The vehicle tire is the only component that is in touch with the road all the time. Therefore, the tires must be comfortable, durable, and energy-efficient. That’s why the tire design is more complicated than you think.


Radial tires are those tires with pliers placed “radially” from the center of the tires. The specific design of these tires allows them to have flexible sidewalls, heat resistance, and a long lifetime. 


In this article, we will talk about the radial tire construction, the advantages and disadvantages of radial tires, the history of radial tires manufacturing, and finally, radial tires repair kits and problems to avoid when repairing a radial tire.


What is a radial tire?


Tires are not made of 100% rubber. Similar to steel embedded in concrete, other materials are embedded in the rubber to provide more strength. Some of these materials include Polyester, steel belts, Kevlar, etc. 


Radial tires are one of the common types of vehicle tires. They are also known as the two-part construction tires. 


The radial tire is a specific way of tire design. In the radial design, cable plies are placed “radially” from the center of the tire. On top of the cable, there is a crown that forms a belt of pliers. The radial tire has more flexible sidewalls that help grip the road with a wider footprint. 


The way the radial tires are constructed allows them to increase heat resistance and provide a smoother ride. 


Here are some of the common features of the radial tires:


  • Their construction provides them with long life and durability
  • The steel belt layer provides the tires with stiffness 
  • The tire interior is protected from damage by a thick shoulder
  • The interior is also protected by a flexible sidewall
  • The tire is designed in a way that makes it strong enough to withstand loads and hold the inflation pressure using a ply cord.
  • The tire’s durability is improved by the bead filler.
  • The tire has a chafer that provides heat resistance to the ply cord as it exposed to heat generated by bead rubbing.


Advantages of radial tires


There are several advantages to the radial tires as compared to the traditional bias tires. These advantages include:


  1. The radial tire provides the vehicle with less rolling resistance. As a result, the vehicle will reduce fuel consumption.


  1. Better driving experience. The radial tire has more flexible sidewalls and is designed in a way that makes the tire stable when it contacts the road. As a result, driving a vehicle with a radial tire will be very smooth.


  1. The heat resistance in the radial tire lengthen its life span


  1. The radial tire design provides less tire vibration when driving.


  1. A more distributed bed pressure due to the flexible design of the sidewalls.


  1. The tire can withstand heavy loads, thanks to the flexible sidewalls


  1. The tire wears more uniformly due to the uniform pressure distribution


  1. Great driving handling as the crown belt as it keeps the tire more stable and prevents deformation at high speeds


  1. The radial tire is very suitable for extremely rigid chassis and more powerful vehicles. The tire allows very high speeds (e.g., more than 150 mile per hour for sports cars)


Disadvantages of radial tires


While the radial tires have many advantages when compared to other tires, there are still some disadvantages to the radial tires.


  1. It is more difficult to repair sidewalls problems in radial tires than any other types of tires. 


  1. Radial tire repair, in general, is more complicated than other tires. 


History of radial tires


Radial tires were first manufactured in 1915. Once people knew the advantages of radial tires (e.g., durability and fuel economy), the tire spread very fast in Europe and Asia around the 50s and the 60s. 


In the United States and around the 1970s, Ford Motor Company was the first American automaker to manufacture vehicles with radial tires.


Radial tire production increased significantly, especially after the oil crisis. In 1974, Goodyear Tire Rubber company made a huge change to its production lines and focused mostly on radial tires as a response to the oil crisis.


In 1974 also, the new wide radial tires were invented. The upgraded tire was designed to handle vehicles with very high power.


Nowadays, radial tires are the standard design tires for all vehicles.


Are radial tires the best choice for all automobiles?


Radial tires are one of many tires types. While most vehicles are now equipped with radial tires, there are situations where radial tires might not be the best choice. 


In construction zones or farm areas, for example, experts recommend using “bias tires,” which are known for their rugged and resist sidewall. These bias tires are designed in a way that enables it to stand very heavy loads. Some of the vehicle’s examples with bias tires are the big cruisers and touring bikes. 


Radial tires are known for their durability, smoothness, and long lifetime. Therefore, they are perfect for any time you want to tow something or have a long road trip.


Radial tire repair kit: How to repair a radial tire using a patch plug?


Radial tires have more complicated construction than other types of tires. As a result, any radial tire repair is more time consuming and costs more money. 


Before we discuss the steps on how to repair a radial tire, it is important to note that there are tires that are “repairable” and tires that are not. Repairable tires are tires with holes or rips in the area 1 inch away from the sidewall towards the center of the tire. 


On the other hand, non-repairable tires are those with rips or problems in the area at the sidewall or one inch from the sidewall.


Therefore, if our radial tire has a problem, it is recommended that you do a visual investigation of the tire. If you see the problem in the center of the tire (to the side touching the road), it is worth investigating repair options. However, if you see that the tire got damaged on the sidewall, unfortunately, you might need to buy a new tire.


Another point that determines if your tire is repairable or not is the angle of how the nail or screw is inserted inside the tire. If the angle is 30, 45, or 50 degrees, then the tire is not repairable. 


Lastly, if the hole inside the tire is greater than a quarter of an inch, then the tire is also not repairable. 


Here are the steps you need to repair a radial tire using a patch plug:


  • Prepare the tool needed: repairing a tire requires some specific tools that you need to have handy. You don’t need to buy this tool if you can borrow it from a friend or a mechanic. Here is the list of tools needed to repair the radial tire:


    • Tire spreader: This is a tool that allows you to inspect the tire by pulling the beads apart to check for internal cavities. It will also lock the tire in place to allow you to work on it securely.
    • A tool to remove any items stuck inside the tire. Something like a screwdriver or pliers
    • Chalk to mark the locations of tears or holes that need to be fixed
    • Rubber prep and a drill
    • A scraper or a knife if you don’t have one
    • A clean brush that was not used before. The brush will be used to clean away any rubber
    • A vulcanizing cement. This is a material used to adhere the rubber
    • A tire stitcher. 


  • Locate the items that got to your tire.


  • Remove the item using a screwdriver. Visually, you can see if there is a nail got inside the tire or any other sharp items. Simply use the screwdriver and pull it out gently. You do not need to rip the tire further when taking the nail out.


  • Mark the location of the holes using the chalk or a crayon. Use the tire spreader and try to find the hole from the inside. Once you find it, add another mark using the chalk.


  • Add some of the buffing solutions to the location of the hole. You don’t need a lot of buffing solution, just a little bit.


  • Use the scraper on a 90 degrees angle and scrape the hole. 


  • Using the buffing tool with two hands, scrub the area. Don’t take off a lot of the tire; try to make the buffing tool moving all the time, so you don’t go very deep.


  • Using the drill, make a small hole from both sides of the tire.


  • Use the wire brush to clean any rubber that came out after drilling. This way, you prevent the patch contamination.


  • Add a vulcanizing cement. You don’t need a lot of it, only a small even light coat. Go a little beyond the area. Let it set from 0.5 to 1 minute.


  • Remove the paper from the patch plug. Remember not to touch the seal or let any of the rubber contaminate it. 


  • Add some vulcanized cement on the patch plug to ensure a good closing to the hole in the radial tire.


  • Insert the patch plug inside the hole from the inside of the tire. From the outside, pull the steel part of the patch. 


  • Use the stitching tool at the inside of the radial tire and work your wayside to side and then up to down. Repeat this step several times. 


  • Once the patch is completely stuck to the wire inside, remove the plastic wrapper on top of the patch.


  • From the outside of the tire. It is now time to remove the metal column of the patch plug. Once it is removed, that’s it, and you patched your radial tire.


Radial tire wrong repairs


It is important to get the radial tire repaired as soon as possible to avoid further tire damage and higher repair costs. 


However, some radial tire repairs might be done wrong, which can result in very fast tire damage.


For instance, if you steal the hole in the tire from the inside or the outside without filling the central line, there is a high chance that moisture will be allowed inside the inner line and might reach the steel belts. As a result, steel belts might get rusted and require much more repairs and higher costs. 


Some people use string plugs to repair the tire from outside. This type of repair does not guarantee to seal the inner line and the inside of the tire. As a result, air might escape inside or outside of the tire resulting in continuous flat tire issues. 


The bottom line, any repairs that are performed without removing the tire from the wheel are considered wrong repairs. 




Radial tires are a specific tire construction where the pliers are placed radially instead of the traditional diagonal tires. The pliers are covered by a metal belt to provide the tire with additional strength.


Radial tires became the standard tires for all automotive. However, there are still vehicles with other types of tires, especially construction zone vehicles.


There is a long list of advantages for the radial tires, including the flexible sidewalls, the heat resistance, and the long-life span. 


 Radial tires, on the other hand, have more complicated and high repair costs as compared to the regular tires. 


It is recommended that you repair repairable radial tires on your own to avoid high repair costs. You can check if your vehicle’s radial tire is repairable by checking the location of the hole, the size of the hole, and the direction the nail or screw is inserted inside the tire. 


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