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Smoke signals: Making a statement with coloured smoke tyres

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Updated 27 Aug 2019

Joel Ilton

Over the last few years, ‘gender reveals’ have really taken off.

Announcing the gender of your unborn child has become so popular there are websites dedicated to the process where you can buy anything from coloured balloons to pinatas full of coloured confetti and everything in between.

But what about the car enthusiast? Surely there’s a way for them to show the gender of their unborn hoon by doing something car related?

You may have seen one creative solution on a video that went viral this week, in which a burnout (spinning the wheels to create a cloud of smoke) was performed and the colour of the tyre smoke - in this case blue - let everyone know the gender of the kid on the way.

Unfortunately for the driver, he pushed his tyres too far and the vehicle caught fire!

While we at AutoGuru certainly do not condone these actions, I think we can all agree that it is a pretty spectacular affair.

However, while a spectacle it may have been, there are no gold stars to be had for the significant damage caused to the vehicle, or for the driver putting himself and the spectators in danger.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the police were very interested in what was going on!

Which brings us to coloured tyres.

As a sensible, well-adjusted member of the public, you may not have known about this style of tyre, but they have been around for the past decade and used often in dedicated burnout competitions where the colour of the smoke has often been matched to the colour of the vehicle to which they are fitted.

It does look amazing, it has to be said.

So how do these tyres produce coloured smoke?

First, we need to talk tyre properties and what happens when they go up in ‘smoke’.

Today’s tyres are constructed of synthetic and natural rubber, as well as wire and fabric that are all moulded together to form the basic shape of a tyre.

Other chemical compounds are also used, and a material called ‘carbon black’ gives tyres their black colour.

So why is tyre smoke white instead of black?

The white smoke created when doing a burnout on a normal tyre is caused by oxidisation of certain rubber compounds which vaporise due to the heat created by the friction of the tyres spinning against the surface of the road. It is this principle that tyre manufacturers alter to create coloured smoke.

A special dye is introduced in the manufacturing process of these tyres, so that when they reach a certain temperature - as they do during a burnout - the dye vaporises along with the rubber and creates coloured plumes of smoke.

This dye is only added to the tread surface, so once the tread has ‘burned away’ the smoke returns to a white colour.

These coloured-dye tyres are not designed to be used on the street and are labelled for off-road to deter people from running them all the time.

The hidden hoon in all of us probably loves the idea of these things, and we may well secretly wish that we had a couple of mates – Dazza and Shazza perhaps? – who we could provide with a fitting reveal moment by slapping these tyres to the V8, giving it plenty of stank, and announcing the gender of the future mullet-botherer in clouds of billowing cough-inducing, smoke. Nice.

We wouldn’t do it of course . . . who really wants their car, and potentially their licence, to go ‘up in smoke!’

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Written By

Joel Ilton

Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.

After almost 10 years on the tools and in customer service, he moved into the IT realm as a Data Analyst and In-House mechanic at AutoGuru.