Goodyear's new Assurance tires
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by Paul Williams

Napanee, Ontario – The introduction of a new brand of passenger-car tires by
Goodyear, called Assurance ComforTred and TripleTred, is designed to make tire
buying simpler for the consumer. The brand, introduced in April, 2004, is targeted
at buyers who want a comfortable ride (ComforTred) and all-weather traction

Assurance tires use new developments in tire-building technology, rubber compounds,
tread design and computer analysis to create a product that offers quietness on the
road without sacrificing the tires’ stopping and manoeuvring ability.

Both Assurance tires, introduced last spring to replace the well-known Aquatred
brand, are produced at Goodyear’s 686-employee plant in Napanee, Ontario. They form
the premium level of Goodyear’s replacement passenger tire line (the Integrity and
Regatta are the Goodyear entry and mid-level brands, respectively).

The products serve a big market. Canadians spend an average of $1.5 billion a year
on passenger car replacement tires, of which one-fifth are high-end, or premium,

ComforTred and TripleTred are built differently, and each use special rubber
compounds, tire construction and tread design. Each Assurance tire is hand inspected
before being shipped.

Ranging in price from $158-$244 and available in 20-sizes to fit 14-17″ wheels, the
ComforTred is a long-lasting tire targeted at owners of luxury vehicles looking for
a quiet, smooth ride.

The tire uses a system of densely packed tread blocks to maximize comfort and
features an absorbent layer between the tread and the belt to provide, on average,
20% more cushion than standard tires (based on Goodyear’s comparison of industry
data for passenger tires).

The ComforTred uses a PermaBlack compound additive to ensure that the tires continue
to look new for their operating life, and the tire comes with a 130,000-kilometre
tread life warranty.

Goodyear's new Assurance tires
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Goodyear is offering a 30-day, no-obligation, trial period for the ComforTred, along
with roadside assistance, online product registration and a tire rotation reminder

According to Mike Cosentino, an executive at Goodyear’s Napanee, Ontario plant,
“Premium car owners don’t want to put inexpensive accessories on a luxury car as
they diminish its perceived value.” The observation is relevant for tires as well,
he suggests.

The other tire in the Assurance line is the “all-weather” TripleTred, which ranges
in price from $172-$210 and is available in 13 sizes for 14″-16″ wheel diameters.
The TripleTred is effectively three tires in one: an ice tire, a wet tire and a dry

The TripleTred requires a complex manufacturing process that takes 20% longer than
other Goodyear tires. This process bonds three rubber compounds of differing
characteristics together to produce a tread that’s effective on a range of surfaces.

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The TripleTred is targeted at luxury and mid-level vehicle owners who are interested
in traction in all weather conditions, including ice, snow, rain and dry roads. But
although Goodyear markets the TripleTred for use in these conditions, it emphasizes
that this is not a winter tire.

Like the ComforTred, the TripleTred uses new tire technology in its design and
construction, but rather than focusing on ride, this tire is more performance
oriented than the ComforTred.

Its centre “ice zone” is designed to provide gripping power on icy or slick roads.
The interlocking tread pattern of the ice zone is supplemented by a soft rubber
compound that’s impregnated with volcanic sand and fibreglass. The idea is that as
the tire wears, these rough materials will become exposed and increase traction on a
slick surface.

Flanking the ice zone is the “water zone,” with its deeply carved aquachutes. Long,
traction “fingers” provide better braking performance (similar in performance to the
Goodyear Eagle F1) by propelling water off the tread and away from the tire.

The “dry zone” uses large, substantial shoulder blocks to optimize handling.
Complementing the shoulder blocks are rigid sidewalls designed to decrease lateral
movement when cornering and provide crisper steering response.

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Like the ComforTred, the TripleTred uses a PermaBlack compound additive, and comes
with a 130,000-kilometre tread life warranty and a 30-day no-obligation trial

On a test-track in nearby Belleville, examples of Assurance tires were fitted to
Ford Focus cars (chosen for their excellent balance, said one of the track
organizers) where journalists were permitted to run them through courses that
featured a combination of smooth, rough and bumpy surfaces.

The ComforTred provided the promised smooth and quiet ride, matching its reference
for the day, the Michelin Harmony. Emergency stops on a wet surface were straight
and well-controlled.

Differences between the TripleTred and the Harmony were more obvious, with the
Assurance tire offering sharper handling and quicker steering response through the
cones. Emergency stopping on a wet surface was again straight and sure.

The Assurance ComforTred and TripleTred do seem to simplify things for consumers, by
focusing on premium passenger-car tires that emphasize a quiet, comfortable ride,
versus a more “handling” tire that has all-weather capabilities. However, the
TripleTred’s claim to be an all-weather tire, although not a winter tire, may return
an element of confusion for buyers.

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