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Are modern car tyres tubeless?

Tubeless tyres are tyres without an inner tube which have been widely adopted since they were first invented more than 90 years ago. Here is what you need to know about the standard equipment on new cars.

Are modern car tyres tubeless?

The tyre, an invention that dates back to the 19th century. © iStock

What is a tubeless tyre?

The most new car tyres are tubeless tyres. The “tubeless” tyre is a tyre without a visible “inner tube”. The “tube” part of a tubeless tyre is built into the tyre. It is the internal membrane and the airtight seal on the rim of the tubeless tyre which performs two roles:

  • store air
  • be airtight

The risk of puncture has been significantly reduced with the invention of the tubeless tyre. It is far more resistant than a tubular tyre, which has been in use since the invention of the pneumatic tyre. Tubeless also means that there is no frictional heat between tyre and tube. This is an essential requirement for driving at higher speeds and over longer distances.

The tubeless tyre is the predominant type of tyre on the automotive market. They are marked with TL.

Who invented the tubeless tyre?

In 1929, Edward Brice Killen originally from New Zealand, allegedly invented the tubeless tyre concept. He filed the patent which was granted in 1930.

Several engineers and other inventors made tyre history. Here are the key events involved with the arrival of the tubeless tyre and the tyre that we know on our vehicles:

  • -3500 BC: invention of the wheel
  • 1830: Charles Dietz, a German engineer, invents the beginning of the rubber wheel by placing a layer of felt, cork and then rubber between the wooden rim and the steel tyre for the comfort of its vehicles passengers.
  • 1834: Charles Goodyear invents vulcanisation (curing rubber to harden it)
  • 1888: John Boyd Dunlop files the first patent for an air-filled tyre with a valve
  • 1889: Dunlop founds the first factory using the vulcanisation invented by Charles Goodyear
  • 1930: New Zealander Edward Brice Killen files the patent for a tubeless tyre which will be granted on 1st April 1930.
  • 1955: Dunlop develops the first tubeless tyre which becomes widespread on the automotive market


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