I am not a professional in engineering and was wondering what I could use to add traction to a wheel. (I have to make a small self-car for a school project) I was wondering if there was a cheap or almost free material I could use for it. The wheel is going to be made of wood, it is going to drive on ceramic tile and the car is not very heavy, maybe around a pound. I am not necessarily looking for a product, just a way to increase traction.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ this is awfully vague. How big is the wheel, whats it made of? $\endgroup$
    – agentp
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ Product selection questions are off-topic for this site, so you won't get any specific material recommendations here. I would suggest adding some more info, like the dimensions of your car/wheel, what surface it's driving on, etc. then ask about what factors will improve traction in car wheels (hopefully with the rest of your info that won't be too broad of a question) $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ Related and maybe a duplicate: engineering.stackexchange.com/q/298/33 $\endgroup$
    – hazzey
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 14:25

2 Answers 2


Depends on a lot of factors, like what surfaces the car is going to go one, the size and weight of the car, if wheel-well dimensions are a constraint, etc...

In general however, if you're trying to maximize traction on a flat driving surface, you'll want as wide a tire as possible, maximizing contact and thus friction against the driving surface. In terms of materials, there's nothing wrong with a normal rubber compound or something comparable to what you would find on a car outside.

Cost is another issue. If you are truly trying to maximize the performance of your car, you'll need to spend an appropriate amount of money to get proper materials and components.

Extra details as to the nature of this car project would be helpful in giving a more accurate//applicable answer.

  • $\begingroup$ Along with this, it may be economical to increase the weight of the vehicle if possible to increase the friction. This may also be counterproductive depending on the situation (since more weight = harder to move). $\endgroup$
    – JMac
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 19:41

You'll need to pick a tire material that has a high coefficient of friction with respect to the surface(s) you'll be driving on. For the class of vehicle you're talking about, this generally means a fairly soft rubber compound.

Go to a hobby store and look at the tires made for R/C model cars and trucks to get a "feel" for what works well on various surfaces.


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