About a month ago, Goodyear announced that it is in development of a self-inflating tire. This tire will come with a miniaturized pump in each tire to ensure proper tire pressure at all times. Dubbed “Air Maintenance Technology”, these new pumps will enable tires to remain inflated at the optimum pressure without the need for any external pumps or electronics. All components of the AMT system, including the miniaturized pump, will be fully contained within the tire.
“While the technology is complex, the idea behind the AMT system is relatively simple and powered by the tire itself as it rolls down the road,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear senior vice president and chief technical officer, in a press release.
“A tire that can maintain its own inflation is something drivers have wanted for many years. Goodyear has taken on this challenge and the progress we have made is very encouraging,” said Kihn. “This will become the kind of technological breakthrough that people will wonder how they ever lived without.”
As great as this sounds, this technology DOES NOT eliminate the need for checking your tire pressure from time to time. After all, if this self-inflating tire receives a puncture, how are you to know without checking the tire? If the self-inflating system isn’t working for whatever reason, how are you to maintain tire pressure then? So, don’t throw away your tire pressure gauges and “set and forget” your tires quite yet.
The Department of Energy recently awarded Goodyear and PPG $1.5 million to study self-inflating tire technology, which is likely to initially be targeted towards trucks and other commercial vehicles. Meaning, that even if Goodyear successfully creates these tires, they won’t hit the consumer market right away. True, Goodyear is developing a self-inflating tire for the consumer market at its research facilities in Luxembourg, but there hasn’t been any word as to when these tires will be finished and will be released into the market. Until then, it will still be the consumer’s responsibility to maintain proper tire pressure and to have the tires checked for maintenance regularly. Also keep in mind that the cost of these tires is still unknown, and that these tires will only be from Goodyear. So, someone who doesn’t want to pay for these tires, or doesn’t want Goodyear tires, would still need to check and to maintain their own tire pressure.
Overall, this sounds really great, but doesn’t entirely eliminate the need for nitrogen tire inflation, and for you to get your tires checked. This isn’t the end of inflation as we know because if this technology comes out and we rely on it too much, we put ourselves in danger of something happening because we didn’t take the time to maintain this technology.