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Tubeless radials rule India’s roads

The flurry of new car launches in India is bringing in a quiet revolution: tubeless radial tyres have become standard fitment, reports Suprotip Ghosh.

autos Updated: Oct 14, 2007 19:51 IST
Suprotip Ghosh

The flurry of new car launches in India is bringing in a quiet revolution: tubeless radial tyres have become standard fitment.

Tubeless radials are tyres that have no separate inflatable tube inside. Instead, a tube is built into the rubber of the tyre. When inflated, the built-in tube creates the cushion of air required to absorb bumps.

Most of India’s tyremakers including MRF, JK tyres and Ceat have started manufacturing tubeless radial tyres.

It is a quiet change on behalf of carmakers, says Tom Thomas, chief, manufacturing and Technical, Ceat Tyres. Previously, most carmakers stuck to regulation tyres with tubes. These are cheaper, but they are also prone to punctures and excessive wear and tear.

“Tubeless tyres give better long-term value for money for a buyer, and it is easy to repair too,” said a Mumbai-based sales manager for Tata Motors who declined to be named. “Tubeless radials can carry on with a nail in them for many kilometres, and you will probably notice the flat tyre at home, rather than on the road,” added Thomas.

Moreover, punctures are easy to fix: it is as easy as pulling out the nail with a pair of pliers, and screwing in a rubber plug to seal the hole.

However, tubeless tyres have their share of problems. The wheel rim has to be flawless, for one. And the side walls of the tyres have to be properly maintained.

And in case of replacement, tubeless tyres are 10 to 15 per cent more expensive than standard tyres, according to industry sources.