Here's why your car tyres might be polluting more than its tailpipe

The increasing weight of cars means more particles are being thrown off by tyres as they wear on the road.

BHPian fhdowntheline recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

For all the hype, research and regulation on tailpipe emissions from automobiles, here is a intriguing and surprising discovery. Tyres are responsible for more pollution than the tailpipe! I guess it puts things in perspective and it would be interesting how regulatory bodies will respond to this.

Some key points from the article:

The requirement for better filters has meant particle emissions from tailpipes in developed countries are now much lower in new cars, with those in Europe far below the legal limit. However, the increasing weight of cars means more particles are being thrown off by tyres as they wear on the road.

The tests of tyre wear were done on 14 different brands using a Mercedes C-Class driven normally on the road, with some tested over their full lifetime. High-precision scales measured the weight lost by the tyres and a sampling system that collects particles behind the tyres while driving assessed the mass, number and size of particles, down to 6nm. The real-world exhaust emissions were measured across four petrol SUVs, the most popular new cars today, using models from 2019 and 2020.

This means that while the vast majority of the particles by number are small enough to become airborne and contribute to air pollution, these represent only 11% of the particles by weight.

Article Source

Here's what BHPian achtuyaghosh had to say on the matter:

Whoa! This is news to me! Am sure more detailed research will be carried out and tyre makers will soon be requested to share their emission statistics so that buyers can take informed decisions.

As far as regulatory bodies go, before above research comes out, NGT will definitely pass on another draconian act on this- somewhat like no car will be allowed to ply in NCR with tires beyond 5 years old etc

The fun part would be how to enforce this?

Here's what BHPian SKC-auto had to say on the matter:

This is another FUD study against EVs, funded by the oil money. This study is not peer reviewed, not conducted by any researcher, did not involve any EVs for the study, employed obscure methods to arrive at pre-determined result.

Tyres on EVs last longer than 50K kms, and the low rolling resistance tyres in most EVs last longer than ICE cars, which is ignored by the so called study.

Here's what BHPian Joelinf had to say on the matter:

Soon they will come up with black tax for tyres beyond 5 years.

Here's what BHPian whitewing had to say on the matter:

The related EU report does not appear to be from a pro-oil lobby, given that it indicates that plastics and tyre wear are the primary sources of marine pollution. These products being made out primarily out of petroleum.


Notice that they even have revisited some of the estimation based on newer data(some are widely off mark).

It suggests the following measures.

  • Measure 1 – The Development of a Standard Measure of Tyre Tread Abrasion Rate
  • Measure 2 - Include Tyre Tread Abrasion Rates on the Tyre Label
  • Measure 3 - Using the Type Approval Regulation to restrict the worst performing tyres (in respect of tyre tread abrasion) from the market

The original study on brake & tyre emissions has multiple citations as well, I do not have any further insight on this (read only the abstract).

Read BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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