7 Safety Myths About Tyres and Your Driving Habits
Posted by: Dan on 2/02/2016
It’s an interesting – if worrying – fact that the majority of people think of themselves as above-average drivers. It’s also true that many people who are actually good drivers cling to misconceptions and myths about driving, and especially about their tyres. Here are 7 safety myths to dispel surrounding your tyres and your driving habits.
1. “You don’t need to rotate your tyres”
Rotating tyres is a task most drivers know about, but few actually do. This is partly because some perceive it as needless or even dangerous. In fact, the opposite is true. Rotating your tyres prolongs their lifespan and maximises their safety. Over time, each tyre has a different amount of wear depending on where it is positioned on the car, so rotating your tyres helps to even out this wear.
2. “Turn the wheel hard to fight a skid”
It’s a reality that most drivers, at some point in their lives, will be in a car crash or accident. If you find yourself going into a skid, do not turn the wheel swiftly the other way against the turn. It is a natural inclination to do so, but this can make the skid even worse. Instead, as rally driver Lionel Firn says, the correct response is to point your wheels in the direction you want to go. This takes some practice, so it’s best to try out this technique while stationary in your car at home. Learning this technique is worthwhile, and could one day prove indispensable.
3. “Braking sharply is a good way to test your brakes”
By default, cars have the capacity to brake hard in an emergency, but this should be done as infrequently as possible. Being too quick to brake at lights and stop signs can add to brake wear over time. Good braking is about anticipating and gradual deceleration, so when you’re approaching a red light or intersection, start to decrease your speed as soon as possible. Creating this habit both protects your brakes – and your tyres’ lifespan – and means that they’ll be in prime condition and responsive when a real emergency braking situation arises.
4. “Race to the pump if low on fuel”
Too many drivers regularly get jittery when they see the fuel light begin to blink on their dashboard. Although you should definitely find a petrol station quickly, most cars will have at least 30 km worth of fuel in reserve once the light comes on. It's true that the fuel being used at that point is scraping the ‘bottom of the barrel’ – so avoid letting your tank get so low as much as possible, since crud and muck from the tank can contribute to engine wear over time. Just keep in mind that once the light flashes, you don’t need to instantly rush off the freeway. Instead, just begin to look for a petrol station, or – if you’re really worried – pull over and do a GPS search for the nearest station. You can then drive there calmly knowing there’s still sufficient fuel to get you there.
5. “Turn the air conditioner on cool to stay alert”
One of the biggest myths surrounding driving is that turning the air conditioner on full blast will make you more alert. Many drivers do this regularly in an attempt to ‘wake up’ when they’re feeling tired, but this can quickly become very dangerous. Certainly in the warmer months the heat can distract you from driving, so turning on the cool AC is a good way to combat that. But the air conditioner should never be used to combat tiredness. If you’re feeling too tired to drive, pull over for a quick 15-minute catnap. It won’t replace a full night’s sleep, but it works well in the short-term to restore alertness and get you home safely.
6. “Used tyres are always fine/always awful”
You’ll find that most of your family and friends have a firm opinion on the subject of buying used tyres. Most people fall on the side of ‘must buy’ or ‘must avoid’ – rarely is there a middle ground. And it’s not unusual to feel caught in the middle of the debate when shopping for your next set. However, you can often get an almost-new set for a great price, so don’t be afraid to buy used tyres if they’re still in good shape. While buying brand-new tyres always comes with the greatest peace of mind, having a set of used tyres as a spare set in event of a flat can be a very good idea.
7. “You don’t need to check your tyres”
Undoubtedly, this is one of the biggest and most dangerous myths – that it’s ok to forgo regular tyre maintenance and tyre checks. While experienced drivers and auto enthusiasts recognise that ongoing tyre checks are crucial, newer drivers often miss the memo. There are many ways to check the health of your tyres, from taking a walk around your car, to examining the treads and checking that the tyres are properly inflated. And if you’re at all unsure, you can always call your local Tyreright for assistance.
The final word on myths and truths
Although it can be stressful at times, driving in the main should be an easy and enjoyable activity. That’s why it’s important to always look out for factors that make your driving safe or unsafe – and this is especially true of the myths surrounding your tyres and driving habits. So, make sure you rotate your tyres, check them regularly, and always ensure that any used tyres you buy are in good condition. Once you’ve done all that, learn how to correctly fight a skid and avoid sharp braking, and you’ll without a doubt be a truly above-average driver.
What other safety myths or inaccurate driving tips have you heard? Let us know in the comments below!