Fine dust irritates the airways, the finer it is, the easier it is for the particles to penetrate the lung tissue. In urban areas, the dust comes mainly from road traffic – from (diesel) engines, but also from brake and tire wear. The power transmission between the tires and the road constantly rasps some rubber from the surface. The fine tire residues get into the groundwater, but in dry weather they can also swirl in the air as a particle mist. According to the ADAC, synthetic rubber, which is one of the plastics, as abrasion from car tires accounts for around a third of all microplastic emissions in Germany. The traffic club measures tire wear both in convoy drives in real operation and in the laboratory on a roller dynamometer.
“Tire wear has been increasing for years, which is due to the steadily increasing engine output, the trend towards heavy SUVs and the resulting larger tire dimensions,” says Dino Silvestro, Head of Vehicle Testing at ADAC. Abrasion is relatively similar for summer, winter and all-season tires. During tire tests , the traffic club determined that the abrasion of a vehicle for all four tires is around 120 grams per 1000 kilometers. “With 650 billion kilometers driven annually in Germany, this results in a mass of 80,000 to 90,000 tons of abrasion,” says Silvestro.
Electromobility could exacerbate the problem, because the Stromer are a few hundred kilograms heavier than cars with internal combustion engines. In addition, they often have more power and develop their maximum torque from a standing start. All this costs profile, which is left on the street. The test organization Emissions Analytics warns that tire wear is now causing much greater problems than the emissions from new cars: “For every 100 kilograms more weight, tire emissions increase by almost six milligrams per kilometer. A fully electric Jaguar I-Pace would weigh 443 kilograms more For example, emit 16 percent more tire particles than a comparable Jaguar F-Pace.”
There will probably be wear limits for tires in Europe from 2026 onwards. How high they will be has not yet been determined. “We assume that there will first be a limit that can be met, and then the limit values will probably be reduced over the years,” says Andreas Schlenke from Continental. Reducing tire wear is not a big problem. “But this leads to a conflict of objectives with security,” says the expert. Improve the air and accept a longer braking distance? That could make all the difference in an accident.