Sumitomo Rubber Industries makes Solar tires and is the brain behind this premium export brand. It’s not only grown into a successful company but also one of the most influential manufacturers in the automotive industry.
Its headquarters are in Kobe, Japan, and as of 2019, it achieved an operating revenue of 8.22 billion dollars.
Want to know more about Solar tires and whether they’re a decent option?
Let’s find out…
Here’s a quick overview of what we’ll be covering:
- Sumitomo rubber tires.
- Solar tires.
- Cheap brand tires vs. premium brand tires.
Sumitomo Rubber Tires: The Company History
“When did the company first make its mark?”
The first big investment that Sumitomo Rubber industries made was acquiring shares in Dunlop Japan. That was in 1909 when Dunlop Japan was still known in the industry as Dunlop Rubber.
The Sumitomo group and Dunlop believed that they could conquer the tire world if they worked as a team.
And they did.
By 1963, Sumitomo was the majority shareholder in Dunlop Japan, and that’s when it decided to change its name to Sumitomo Rubber Industries.
Did this newly formed company stop there? No.
It couldn’t quench that insatiable thirst for more, and in 1997, it again decided to go for another partnership. This time, it was with Goodyear Tires.
This new partnership was a force to be reckoned with. They dominated the market for years before dissolving in 2015.
Goodyear Tires alleged that Sumitomo Rubber broke the terms set out of an anti-competitive lease, resulting in going their separate ways.
Today, Walmart distributes Sumitomo-branded tires in the USA, with the Solar 4XS being one of the most popular. It’s dominated the market because consumers find the tires affordable and of good quality.
Okay, enough history for today, class. Let’s now get into the cool stuff.
Solar Tires: Specs and Features
Do you know the one thing that car owners hate more than anything in this world?
Having to constantly change their tires with seasons.
But, you can relax now—Solar tires are the solution to that problem, with some impressive features and specs, with the 4XA being one of the brand’s frontrunners.
A good tire is a tire that can firmly grip any surface. Be it wet or dry, it doesn’t matter.
The Sumitomo tire is that tire.
It comes with deep, circumferential and angled grooves that make it easier for any vehicle to grip the ground, regardless of the terrain.
What’s the science behind that? This is how it works:
The tire provides a grip, which creates a force of friction between it and the road’s surface. That friction is what prevents the tire from sliding and helps it revolve. Hence, traction.
Unlike other tire brands, Solar tires pack a superior water evacuation system that diverts the water to the tire’s sides, thereby preventing hydroplaning. Again, the Solar 4XS is especially good at this.
Have you heard of the Uniform Tire Quality Grading traction rating? Traction grades are necessary as they indicate your vehicle’s ability to stop on wet ground. If your tire has a higher grade, it means you’ll only cover a short distance before the car stops.
Sumitomo’s tires have considerably good ratings. And, if you think we’re overselling them, just give them a shot and see how smooth your ride is on snowy, wet or dry roads.
Tire Treads Wear
To determine a tire’s tread wear, you have to look at:
- The terrain.
- Road elevation.
- How curved the streets are.
If tires could talk, they’d tell you heat is their greatest enemy because it catalyzes the rate at which these tires wear off.
Treadwear is definitely a conversation piece since it determines the tire’s shelf life. And any Solar tire model knows how to hold its own.
Some tires can’t even clock 30,000 miles, but solar tires can go past 40,000 miles. Plus, there’s a 45,000-mile limited warranty for every purchase.
Side note: the mileage difference covered depends on several factors. Some car owners reported their tires wore off after 40,000 miles, while others reported they had to go for a replacement after covering 110,000 miles.
So, it all hinges on the weather and road conditions that you expose your car to daily.
Tire Size Coverage
When you hear someone talk about the tire size, they’re simply referring to the tire’s section width. Listed in millimeters, the section width is the distance between two sidewalls. If your section width is larger, you have a wider tire.
Solar “4XS Plus” is the most common model, and it comes in two tire sizes:
- Aspect ratio of 55 and a section width of 205mm.
- Aspect ratio of 65 and a section width of 185mm.
Sumitomo AT tires are also common brand tires but more common among passenger cars. They’re an all-terrain radial tire, with a tire size aspect ratio of 55 and a section width of 275mm.
To clarify the aspect ratio, Sumitomo’s tires, like every other tire, have a relationship between the section height and the section width. That’s what we refer to as the “aspect ratio,” and it’s the tire size factor that determines the tire’s steering control.
You want to go with a low tire size aspect ratio because it makes steering a lot easier. Any tire that has a tire size ratio of 55 has a great balance.
In terms of rim size, a Sumi tire will perfectly fit a 15 to 16-inch tire size.
A tire can either be “radial” or “bias ply.”
If you look at your tire tread’s centerline and notice your plies are laid at 90 degrees, that’s a radial tire. If they are at alternate angles and less than 90 degrees, we’re talking about bias ply tires.
Solar 4XS tires are radial tires, and yes, that’s a good thing.
Consumers prefer radial premium brand tires because they’re much more efficient at dissipating heat than bias ply premium tires and even improve fuel efficiency. It’s not easy to find a modern passenger car that has bias ply tires.
Differences Between Radial and Bias Ply Tires
The following are the different attributes of radial and bias tires:
Radial tire characteristics:
- Quieter and smoother ride.
- Better sway control on curves.
- Easily dissipates heat.
- Wider footprint.
- More puncture-resistant.
- Less rolling resistance.
Bias play tire characteristics:
- Cheaper compared to radial tires.
- Can handle heavier loads.
- Perform well on straight roads but dismally when it comes to curves.
- Susceptible to abrasion due to their shape.
When choosing between radial and bias play, don’t buy on a whim. It’s always a good idea to have a record of tires you’ve been using to understand your baseline.
You can learn a lot from the kind of records that you keep. You’ll know:
- The average price of a tire.
- When you’re due for a tire replacement.
- What tire quality you should be looking for.
- The appropriate tire size.
- The speed rating that your car can handle.
A tire’s speed rating is the highest speed that the tire can move without jeopardizing driver safety. We’re referring to the speed at which the Solar tire efficiently dissipates heat to give you a good grip.
Sumi’s 4XS tires have a speed rating of H, while the AT has a speed rating of T.
That means these two premium brand tires can comfortably roll at a speed of 130 and 118 miles an hour, respectively, without breaking a sweat.
As a factor, a tire’s speed rating is considered critical, as it adds to any car’s performance.
In addition, Solar 4XS tires have big tread blocks on the shoulder and dual center ribs that provide it with enhanced stability, steering responsiveness and negotiating corner capabilities.
We all know that the price of anything influences a buyer’s decision. A lot of the time, you’ll hear people associate high-quality products with high price tags.
Solar’s manufacturers took the price factor into account and produced a high-performance, high-quality product at a price that many find pocket-friendly.
So, whatever price you pay for that other tire can probably buy you more Solar premium tires, and you’ll not have to compromise on quality or functionality.
Quick tip: Before you buy a tire—any tire—make sure you consult with your local mechanic first. Ask about the installation cost, including the mounting and balancing charges. You might like the price but hate the hassle of installation. Some mechanics don’t know how to install certain tires.
We want to avoid a situation where, after making an online tire purchase, you can’t get it installed because the one mechanic that can help you operates in a different state.
Here’s a fun fact: OEMs’ tires reduce fuel consumption by a significant percentage. Therefore, before you go out shopping for tires, sit down and do some research. Find out which tire brand is poorly ranked in terms of fuel consumption.
And, yes, all the different Solar tire models check that box. Hence, they’re fuel-efficient.
It’s been proven that cheap brand tires do contribute to road noise.
A tire that doesn’t have any tread will be quieter. One with a simple geometric will be modestly loud, but if it has blocky tread patterns, you’d think the car is trying to play some metal music—and not the good kind!
But then again, we know just how important treads are. Without them, your tires’ ability to firmly grip the road’s surface will be compromised. In fact, it won’t be long before you realize the car doesn’t accelerate as smoothly or brake as it used to.
Tire treads also maximize fuel economy, helping you save a few dollars.
These premium brand tires do have treads, but they’re also designed to eliminate the noise.
Tire Loading Capacity
Solar’s 4XS tires have a load index of 194lbs.
So, let’s assume your tire size is 15 inches, and you’re moving a load from point A to point B.
Each tire will be able to handle 194lbs, so you’ll be able to move a load that weighs 776lbs.
If your tire size is 16 inches, you’ll be able to move a heavy load. All you have to do is multiply what one tire can handle by four, and you’ll have your answer. You won’t have to worry about a slow leak along the way or even the tire bursting.
That’s just an example of the weight that the 4XS can carry. The Sumi AT can hold more than 2,500lbs!
Solar’s tires will make your rides smooth and comfortable, seeing as they have an optimized footprint meant to help them stay grounded.
It’s this close contact that quickly absorbs shock while the car is in motion.
Cheap Brand Tires Vs. Premium Brand Tires
It’s not easy to decide which tires are more appropriate when replacing old tires.
The cheaper brand tire options will, for sure, appeal to you, especially if you’re budget-conscious, but we all know cheap is, ultimately, expensive.
Before making up your mind, ask yourself, “Are they economical in the long run?”
Don’t be blinded by the price.
Take a minute to look at the actual differences between these low price brand tires and their premium alternatives.
A low price tire will have the same tread pattern as premium brand tires. So there’s no way you’ll notice the differences just by looking at their physical attributes.
The truth will finally reveal itself once you install them.
The ride won’t feel smooth, and braking will certainly be a problem.
In addition, there’s a big difference in raw material quality used during production. Because the quality is of a lower grade, the tire’s shelf life will be shorter, and it won’t be able to properly grip the surface.
Besides, if the shelf life is short, you’ll be paying more for every mile covered.
On top of this, premium tires offer greater performance in any weather conditions. They even improve handling capabilities and produce shorter braking distances.
So, don’t pay too much attention to pricing. Sometimes, it pays to look at the bigger picture. Think about the high returns and safer motoring.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Solar Tires Good Tires?
Yes, Solar tires are good-quality tires. And, just like any other tire manufacturer, the company produces various models that will fit your needs and driving style. For example, if you’re looking for high-speed handling and responsiveness, try the Sumitomo HTR A/S.
Or, you can go for an all-season brand tire if you’re looking for excellent traction.
Does Sumitomo Own Falken?
Even though Falken is now a stand-alone brand, Sumitomo Rubber Industries introduced it to the world and owns Falken. Rancho Cucamonga, California, is Falken Tires’ headquarters, and it’s ranked among the best when it comes to ultra-high performance motorsport brand tires.
Who Owns Sumitomo Rubber Industries?
Sumitomo Rubber Industries is a public limited company, so the shareholders are the owners of the company. The company was founded in 1909 by Masatomo Sumitomo, who insisted upon reliability and trust. Satoru Yamamoto (president and CEO) and Tetsuji Mino (chairman) are the company’s key figures in 2020.
Summing It Up
Sumi tires are the ultimate all-in-one tires. Their price tags appeal to so many buyers and come with all the required specs.
Use this as a guide on what you need to consider before getting yourself a set of new tires.
Are Solar 4XS tires your ideal tires? We don’t know. Only you can answer that question, but what we can say for sure is that we’ve seen Sumitomo tires revolutionize the automotive industry.