Drive defensively for a safer festive season

Tiger Wheel & Tyre urges motorists to stay safe over the holidays and gives essential steps that drivers should take.

The festive season is almost upon us. Holidays at the coast. Christmas parties. Long drives to families in the countryside. It’s no wonder December is the most eagerly anticipated time of the year. It is also, with the overload of vehicles on our country’s roads, the most dangerous time to drive.

Tiger Wheel & Tyre has put together practical steps you can take to increase the safety of you and your loved ones. We also take a look at the unique challenges on South Africa’s roads.

Wikipedia defines defensive driving as driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others. Your parents and driving school would probably have covered the basic principles but you may have forgotten them over time, so it’s important to refresh your memory and stay abreast of current trends.

There are, essentially, three principles to defensive driving.

  1. Put safety first by following the rules of the road.
  • Speed kills, as you have less control of your vehicle and less time to react to hazards on the road. So, go easy on the accelerator.
  • Obey traffic signs and lights. They are there to maintain a rules-based road network and, if everyone followed them, it would drastically reduce road dangers.
  • Tailor your driving to the weather. If there are Highveld storms for instance, visibility is reduced, so cut your speed, increase following distances, and turn on your lights or hazards.
  • Office parties are a great way to end the year, but don’t drive under the influence of alcohol, or when you’re sleep deprived.
  1. Be courteous on the roads, but never assume it of other drivers.

Manners cost nothing. It could mean letting someone into your lane, or showing gratitude to other courteous drivers. If everyone drove with manners and predictability, the roads would be a much safer place. As we all know, however, not everyone does. So, assume the worst of others and drive accordingly. Give everyone ample space, and you’ll protect yourself, no matter what they do.

  1. Keep your car running optimally with regular maintenance.

Defensive maneuvers such as quick braking and swerving to avoid dangers will only work if your car is capable. Ensure your vehicle is in tip-top shape, especially before a long trip over the holidays. Top up your car’s fluids. Ensure hoses and belts are in good condition and properly attached. Make sure your tyres, as well as your spare, are in good shape and inflated to the correct pressure.

Let’s look at unique challenges motorists face on South African roads.

  • Lack of road maintenance, like potholes, streetlights not working, non-existent signage, and soft or deep road edges means our country’s roads are a disaster waiting to happen. Drive accordingly.
  • Nature can also be a threat, especially flooded roads after torrential rain. Stay alert to official warnings. Listen to radio traffic reports. Increase following distances. And make sure your tyres are in good condition, and have ample tread.
  • This is Africa, so that means a much higher chance of animals on the road, from cattle to buck to stray dogs. Stay alert.
  • Criminals lay spikes on the road to puncture tyres. Motorists are forced to stop and are now vulnerable to being attacked and robbed. Ensure you are off the road before traffic quietens drastically. Don’t drive over anything in the road, like plastic bags, as these can be used to disguise spikes. Drive a few extra seconds behind other motorists so their driving behaviour can alert you to potential threats.

And remember, you’re on holiday. There’s no rush. Take plenty of breaks on long journeys. You’ll stay fresh and alert to dangers.

Start your preparation for the holiday season by ensuring your tyres are in top condition. Visit your nearest Tiger Wheel & Tyre, and we’ll give your car a free tyre safety check, and give you peace of mind for your trip.

Have a great holiday!

Tiger Wheel & Tyre’s guide to helping your vehicle’s wheels save you money on fuel

The tyres on your vehicle, the way you maintain them, and your driving behavior all play a significant role in the amount of fuel your vehicle consumes. This impacts the amount of money you need so spend to fill up.

It’s been that way since John Dunlop invented the pneumatic tyre, or rubber tubes filled with air, in the late 1880s. And while petrol prices in his day may seem ridiculously low by our standards, the principle remains that the more fuel your engine uses to keep your vehicle’s tyres moving, the more money you’re obliged to spend.

And one thing where we and Mr Dunlop agree, is that every cent, or in his case, every penny, counts.

Tiger Wheel & Tyre has put together a list of the things you can do to help the performance of your tyres keep fuel costs down.

Keep your rolling resistance as low as possible. You want the minimum amount of rubber in contact with the tar, because the more contact you have, the more fuel it takes to keep your tyres rolling.

So, keep your tyres inflated to your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. You’ll find that info on the driver’s side doorjamb, or in your vehicle’s manual.

Don’t go by the tyre pressure printed on the tyre itself. This is a maximum tyre pressure, and not optimized for your particular vehicle. Over-inflation can cause uneven tyre wear. And inflate them when they are cool, as this is a more accurate measure of tyre pressure.

Keep your tyres standard size. Vehicle makers are obliged, by law and customer demand, to keep emissions and fuel consumption as low as they can. So stay with the optimised OEM tyre size. Remember, a bigger tyre, more aggressive tyre pattern, or lower sidewall profile means extra weight and more engine effort to keep them turning.

There are several other things you can do to keep your tyres running optimally. Rotate your wheels and check their balance every 10,000 kilometres to even your vehicle’s load.

Inflate with nitrogen. Filling tyres with nitrogen, rather than air, maintains optimum tyre pressure.

Insist on premium brand tyres. Yes, they may cost more initially, but their superior quality will keep fuel costs down, as well as lessen the need to replace them often.

The way you drive affects your tyre’s ability to save you money on fuel. Hard acceleration or deceleration, or cornering too fast, gives tyres less traction, which means engine power, fuel, and your money is wasted.

 

Get more expert advice from tyre professionals at your local Tiger Wheel & Tyre. Visit www.twt.to for top tips, tyre news, and to shop online.

Tiger Wheel & Tyre Lifts the Lid on the ‘Secret World of Wheels & Tyres’

Jargon is a necessary tool that allows industry participants to communicate accurately and effectively about things that are unique to their field. The downside is when customers feel like jargon is a wall between them and the service provider; one that keeps them in the dark and leaves them vulnerable to exploitation. Tiger Wheel & Tyre is having none of that when it comes to its customers and is letting you ‘in on the secret’.

The pros at South Africa’s best-loved and most trusted wheel and tyre retailer have put their heads together and have come up with a list of common industry terms and their meanings, to empower you to make good decisions when it comes to your wheels and tyres.

First, it’s important to know what a ‘tyre designation’ is. This is the series of numbers and letters on a tyre’s sidewall, each of which expresses the nature and/or values of the tyre’s specifications. It’s the tyre’s master code and a typical one may look like this: P205/55R16 88V.

  • Wheel alignment: A process using hi-tech equipment to measure and adjust, where possible, three key angles (camber, caster and toe) to ensure all wheels are pointed in the optimum direction in relation to the road and each other.
    • Camber is the angle at which wheels are tilted in or out; caster, the angle between the pivot line to the upper ball joint and vertical axis; and toe, the angle at which the leading edge of a pair of wheels points towards or away from each other.
  • Aspect Ratio: The height of the sidewall expressed as a percentage of the tyre width. This is the second number in the tyre designation, e.g. P205/55R16 88V.
    • Low profile: Tyres with an aspect ratio of less than 50%.
    • Ultra-low profile: Tyres with an aspect ratio of around 30%.
  • Balancing: The process of measuring the distribution of weight in the wheel package (wheel with tyre fitted) and correcting imbalances by affixing weights to the rim.
  • Casing: The foundational structure of the tyre, formed by crisscrossing threads. Also used to refer to old, used tyres.
  • Load Index: A numeric value correlating to a table and describing the maximum load carrying capacity of tyres. On the Load Index table, 88 indicates a maximum load carrying capacity of 560kg. This is the last number in the tyre designation, e.g. P205/55R16 88V.
  • Markings: Another name for the tyre designation and other information on the sidewall.
  • Nitrogen Tyre Inflation: the act of inflating tyres with nitrogen rather than air, so they run cooler, stay inflated longer and last longer.
  • Rotation: The act of moving front tyres to the back and vice versa, then swapping them left to right, to minimise the effects of uneven treadwear and extend tyre life.
  • Alloy Wheel: A wheel made from alloy metal (lighter than steel) and usually fitted as an aftermarket accessory for performance and aesthetic reasons.
  • Run Flats: Tyres manufactured specifically for certain car makes and models and which have a reinforced sidewall. Cars with run flats usually have a built-in TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system). In the event of a flat, you can continue driving on run flats at a reduced speed for around 100km, before replacing them.  For safety reasons, run flats should not be repaired after being driven flat.
  • Sidewall: The part of the tyre between the rim and the shoulder, which contains the tyre designation.
  • Sipes: Thin slits carved across the rubber surface of the tyre tread, which enable better water evacuation and braking.
  • Speed Rating: The maximum speed a tyre can safely sustain under its recommended load capacity. Ratings range from A to Z (5 – 240+ km/h) and are reflected on the sidewall as the last letter in the tyre designation, e.g. P205/55R16 88V.
  • Tyre Size: A reference to three key measurements, including the width of the tyre, usually measured in millimetres, though some manufacturers use different standards; the aspect ratio (see aforementioned explanation) in millimetres; and the diameter of the rim in inches, represented respectively in our tyre designation example as P205/55R16 88V. When people speak of a 15, 16, or 20” etc. tyre size, they are referring to the rim size.
  • Tyre Pressure: A measurement of the amount of air inside the tyre. Manufacturers include recommended tyre pressures on the inside of the driver-side door and in the owner’s manual.
  • Tread: The part of the tyre that makes road contact. Different tyres have different tread patterns, designed to optimise a combination of handling characteristics.
  • Treadwear Indicator: An easily identifiable part of the tread that can be used to measure treadwear. It is usually represented as a triangle or ‘TWI’.
  • Plug: A piece of rubber cord or string coated with a sticky compound and used as a temporary measure, to seal puncture holes on-the-tyre, from the outside in. Plugged tyres should not be driven at speeds exceeding 80km/h and for no further than 100km. For a professional, permanent solution, Tiger Wheel & Tyre performs off-the-wheel repairs from the inside out and uses a plug-type product known as a vulcanising rubber stem, in a process that includes reinforcing and sealing the repair area. Repairs are only undertaken to holes no larger than 6mm and after thorough inspection of the tyre both inside and out, to determine the extent of the damage and verify that the puncture is indeed repairable.

Knowing the meaning of industry jargon is like speaking another language. Suddenly, there’s less room for misunderstanding and you’re empowered to make better decisions and to understand if a salesperson is offering a real solution to your needs.

If you have any concerns, don’t take a chance. Head over to your nearest Tiger Wheel & Tyre instead and let the professionals take care of your needs so you can safely and confidently journey on. Learn more at www.twt.to.

SAFETY REMINDERS FOR MOTORISTS FROM TIGER WHEEL & TYRE

Safety Reminders for Motorists from Tiger Wheel & Tyre

Every motorist’s goal is to journey safely from point A to point B, and Tiger Wheel & Tyre’s goal is to help you do exactly that. To that end, the company offers these reminders and advice for everyday driving.

Decoding Route Markers

As common as they are, it’s surprising how few motorists understand what route markers mean. These are the blue road signs that read something like “N4-7X and below that 32,0 W”. Happily, it’s not a complicated code to crack. N4 identifies the road you’re travelling on, 7X tells you which section you are on, 32 denotes your kilometre position on that section and W indicates you’re travelling west.

This information may seem trivial, but if you have to call emergency services from the roadside, it will help them pinpoint your location to within about 100 m. If you have to jog over to find one of these signs, note that they are situated at 200m intervals on all national roads.

Protecting Little Passengers

In emergencies where adults are unable to speak on behalf of small children, it’s important that emergency personnel have all the information they need. Tiger Wheel & Tyre recommends you attach an ICE (in case of emergency) tag to children’s car seats. Include the child’s name and date of birth, the names and phone numbers of both parents and an additional emergency contact/s as well as the child’s pediatrician, plus information regarding any allergies or medical conditions.

Save Emergency Numbers on Your Phone

It’s difficult to think clearly under dramatic circumstances, whether that’s a car accident or a puncture in a neighbourhood that makes you nervous. Give yourself an advantage by saving all emergency and roadside assistance numbers on your phone, so you won’t have to fumble around for them.

You should also save your ICE information to your phone. Both Apple (iOS 8 and later) and Android phones have a feature that enables this information to be displayed on your Lock Screen, so emergency responders can read it from a locked phone. In iOS, go to the Apple Health App, select Medical ID, fill in your information, activate “Show When Locked” and hit Save. On an Android phone, open the Settings, select Security & Location, by Screen Lock select Settings, then tap Lock Screen Message, enter your ICE info and save. If you would ike to download a printable ICE info tag, please click here.

Vehicle Fitness Matters

Whether you’re journeying across the country or driving as usual, remember to regularly assess your “vehicle fitness”. Check indicators and lights, see that you have the necessary tools to change a flat tyre, and that your tyres are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, which you’ll find in the owner’s manual or inside the driver’s door. The tools you’ll need to change a tyre include, an emergency triangle to warn approaching drivers of an upcoming hazard, wheel chocks (rocks or bricks also work) to prevent the car rolling when it’s jacked up, a spanner to loosen the wheel nuts and a jack to lift the vehicle. If you have McGard wheel locks (available from Tiger Wheel & Tyre), you’ll also need the special wheel nut ‘key’ that came with them.

Did you know that Tiger Wheel & Tyre offers a FREE vehicle safety check? Don’t leave it to chance, find your nearest store on the website at www.twt.to or click here for the store locator, then go get your free check and let the experts help you to journey on, safely.

HOW TO READ YOUR TYRE SIZE

Need to fit new tyres and not sure of your tyre size? Take a look at Tiger Wheel & Tyres Urban Girls Guide to finding and reading your tyre size.

Use our guide to understand where your tyre width, aspect ratio, radial, wheel diameter, load index and speed rating is located on the tyre sidewall, car manual and car door. Shop for tyres at www.twt.to or visit your nearest store www.twt.co.za/store-locator