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Rubber

Tires, in addition to several other car parts, are made from rubber.

©iStockphoto.com/Nikada

What's the one thing all automobiles have in common? They all need tires if they're going to get around. Tires are one of those parts people tend to take for granted, but they're one of the most vital parts of any vehicle. This is where the importance of rubber comes into play in auto manufacturing.

Automotive manufacturing is the driving force of the rubber industry, as about 75 percent of the world's natural rubber production is used to make tires for vehicles [source: Industrial Rubber Goods]. The rubber tire protects the rest of the wheel and its internal parts from wearing down, which can be good for fuel mileage and road safety.

In addition to the all-important tires, parts such as wiper blades, engine mounts, seals, hoses and belts are also made from rubber. As with plastic, it's a very durable, cheap and flexible material that has a wide array of uses in automobiles.

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