Potholes cause costly damage to car wheels, suspension and steering systems. Tire blowouts are most common, but tougher new material offers better protection.
Is there such a thing as a pothole-proof car tire? One Finnish company believes it can be done – so much so they are introducing a very resilient product in North America made of the same material as used in bulletproof vests. It comes with an 80,000-mile warrantee that “replaces the tire at no cost if a road hazard damaged the tire beyond repair,” according to SimpleTire.com.
The company, Nokian, introduced the Nokian One tires in North America in January 2021. The tire – or tyre, as the Europeans spell it – is made with Aramid fibers, a synthetic, heat-resistant material developed for the marine and aerospace industries. Aramid is used in Kevlar vests, which provide bullet protection to law enforcement officers and soldiers. The Nordic home base of the company is why it’s known for producing resilient winter tires. Nokian operates the only permanent winter tire testing facility on the planet.
So how well will a Nokian One tire with bullet-proof fiber construction hold up to the epic potholes that dot US and Canadian roads and highways? And what do the product engineers in Finland know about highway conditions in Florida, West Texas, and Arizona in July? Most Americans south of Alaska and the wintriest parts of the Lower 48 do not change out tires from summer to winter.
The company guarantees the tires up to 80,000 miles of use – winter, spring, summer, and fall. Note it’s not the first time Aramid fibers have been used in tires – several other companies (BF Goodrich, Goodyear, and Kumho) use it in tires designed for rigorous off-road use. What’s different is the material is combined with an innovative silica compound that is engineered to enable on-road, temperature-variable driving. Nokian says they “built the One with drivers of coupes, sedans, CUVs, SUVs, and minivans in mind.”
The warrantee does not require the consumer keep records of tire rotation and wheel alignment, as do other product manufacturers in the industry – which should make it easier for a driver to collect reimbursement on a pothole-destroyed tire, should that happen.
Anyone who has experienced a tire blowout from a pothole knows having resilient tire walls is a huge step forward. The average insurance payouts in comprehensive coverage, according to a car insurance comparison website, is between $93 and $258 per tire (least expensive is in Oregon, most expensive in South Dakota). But of course that is after a deductible on the insurance policy is spent. The cost of Nokian One tires advertised on online sellers’ sites ranges from $80 to $143 per tire, not including shipping, installation labor, and tax.