MC&T has recent discovered a patent filed with the USPTO that describes a “Vehicle Tire Heater and Cleaner System,” which uses hydraulic brake pressure to stop the motion of one axle’s wheels in order the spin the other ones, therefore “cleaning” it of any dirt and debris, as well as heating them up, supposedly in order to be more capable off-road. The patent was filed by FCA US LLC, whose parent company is now Stellantis. The mode seems destined not for Dodge muscle cars, but instead for gritty Jeep and Ram vehicles, as the patented mode requires a 4LO setting and a locking front differential, and seems to target the front tires, based on the graphic. The Wrangler 392 and Ram TRX come to mind.
Well, there’s nothing like spinning the tires in place to get them nice and squeaky clean and hot, drag racers have been doing it for years, but it isn’t to make it better off-road, it’s for better launching off of the line. Here, we see the application used for something far, far away from the track.
For the uninitiated, a “line lock” system does exactly that, locks out the rear brake lines from the pedal so that only the front brakes are activated when the brake pedal is pressed, so when the gas is pressed at the same time, the wheels spin without the car moving. In a production car, Ford was first with line-lock technology on the S550 Mustang, followed by others. But we’ve never seen a front-wheel line lock mode from a domestic automaker.
Like a standard line lock, the system will be activated by a button somewhere on the dashboard, and a bit of a hokey pokey. First, the vehicle must be placed in 4LO mode (the graphic appears to use Jeep Wrangler switchgear), then the tire heater can be enabled, the driver will push the button, and then the computers do their thing.
The front differential is locked to provide two-wheel-peels, while the torque bias is sent to the front wheels. And finally, you put your left foot on the brake and your right foot on the gas, and boom, you’re cleaning and heating your tires at the same time. Genius!
Once the front tires are sufficiently heated, a chime will play over the sound system and a message will display on the central infotainment to let you know the tires are sufficiently warm and clean.
Time will tell if/when this technology makes it onto vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler 392 and Ram TRX, among other Stellantis products. And if there was any doubt that this wasn’t a line lock, there is literally a part of the flow chart that says: “Front Burnout Request?” And the answer to that is yes, always yes.