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Why do Tires Matter?

Safe driving tips

Driving safely on wet roads

Slow down. If more drivers followed this tip in the rain, accidents would dramatically decrease. Wet weather doesn’t receive the same attention as winter weather driving, but it should. Wet roads present similar dangers-less grip and longer stopping distance, for example.

Here are some tips for driving safely on wet roads:

  • Make sure your tires offer the proper amount of tread.
  • Drive with two hands. Always.
  • Slow down before turning, and maintain a consistent speed throughout the turn.
  • While turning, don’t make any sudden steering wheel movements.
  • Only brake in a straight line before the turn, and do so gradually. Be careful if you need to brake during the turn.
  • Increase your following distance from other cars significantly.
  • If hydroplaning, do not accelerate or brake suddenly. Keep your foot lightly on the gas and steer the car forward until your tires regain traction.

Avoid sliding

What is it:

Your front or rear tires won't follow in the direction you are steering.

How to regain control:

Gently ease up on the gas pedal and slow down until the car regains traction.

How to avoid it:

Check the air pressure and tread depths of your tires monthly.

Driving tip:

  • Drive slower in rain or on wet roads.

Braking in rain

Oversteer/Understeer:
These terms may be a bit technical, but bear with us. It’s easy and important. When you take turns in both wet and dry conditions (but especially wet), you can easily lose control by oversteering or understeering. Learn what these problems are and how to beat them by watching the video above.

What to do if you slide forward instead of turning

What is it:

Your front tires lose traction and could slide right off the road before your rear tires. This is called understeering. Your car doesn’t follow the turn and slides straight off the road.

How to regain control:

Gently ease up on gas pedal and slow down until your tires regain traction.

How to avoid it:

  • Check the air pressure monthly.
  • Check the tread depth monthly.

Avoid spinning out from a turn

What is it:

Your rear tires lose traction before your front tires and you start to spin.

How to regain control:

  • If you have a front wheel drive: turn into the direction in which you are skidding. Remove steering correction as the rear axle begins to regain traction and straighten back up.
  • If you have a rear wheel drive: ease up on the gas pedal and turn away from the skid. Remove steering correction as the rear axle begins to regain traction.
  • If you have an all wheel drive: turn in the same direction that you are skidding and maintain light acceleration. Remove steering correction once the rear axle starts to regain traction.

How to avoid it:

  • Check the air pressure monthly.
  • Check the tread depth monthly.
  • Have your tires rotated regularly so that they wear evenly.
  • If you purchase only 2 new tires, make sure they are placed at the rear of the vehicle.

Driving tip:

  • Do not turn too sharply.

Avoid hydroplaning

What is it:

The tires slip and do not respond to steering, braking or accelerating. The vehicle can even skid or spin. It occurs when the water between your tires and the road cannot be removed quickly enough. This layer of water builds up in front of the tire until the tire cannot evacuate the water sufficiently. This is when the tire loses contact with the road.

How to regain control:

  • Don’t hit the brakes suddenly.
  • Ease off the gas pedal gently until you slow down and regain traction.

How to avoid it:

  • Check your tire pressure monthly. Tire pressure below 30% of what is recommended greatly increases the risk of hydroplaning.
  • Check your tread depths monthly on all of your tires.
  • Reduce your speed when approaching large puddles or standing water.

Pressure is key

Tire maintenance tips:

  • Check your tire pressure monthly. Underinflated tires increase fuel consumption. Overinflated tires have less grip.

How to drive to reduce fuel consumption:

  • Maintain Proper Air Pressure
    Underinflated tires are one of the biggest causes of using excess fuel in the world. The American Automobile Agency has stated that operating a vehicle with underinflated tires can result in a 25% reduction in fuel economy.
  • Select Low Rolling Resistance Tires
    The lower the rolling resistance, the less effort from your engine, the better the gas mileage.
    Some additional tips:
    • Drive at a constant speed, avoiding rapid stops and starts.
    • Turn off the engine when the car is at a standstill, for example in a traffic jam or at a railroad crossing, if it is safe to do so.
    • Drive light. Extra weight increases fuel consumption and polluting emissions.
    • Remove unused accessories like roof racks and luggage carriers, which create aerodynamic drag.

Want to learn more about sustainability and MICHELIN?

Choosing your tires:

  • Choose tires that have “fuel economy” as one of their main performance characteristics.
  • Tires that have “traction” as their main characteristic will often have reduced fuel economy; winter tires and tires for heavier vehicles such as SUV and light trucks might not be the most fuel-efficient.

Safe driving on the highway

  • Always observe highway speed limits.
  • Activate your turning signal well in advance before changing lanes.
  • Avoid sudden or erratic steering or you may lose control of your car and roll over.
  • Take regular breaks. Don't drive while tired.

Safe driving at night

  • Give your eyes some time to adjust to the light and shadows.
  • Tilt your rear view mirror slightly to reduce the dazzling effect of the car headlights behind you. If your rear view mirror has the option, switch to night setting.
  • Don't look directly at the headlights from cars traveling in the opposite direction.
  • Don’t drive too fast: visibility is reduced at night, making it hard for you to see the road ahead.

Safe driving in fog

Visibility deteriorates in fog:

  • Turn on your low beam headlights and fog lights.
  • Reduce your speed and refrain from passing other vehicles.
  • Leave enough time to react in an emergency by keeping a safe braking distance from the vehicle in front of you.

Safe driving in wind

  • Reduce your speed. Be prepared to stop at any time.
  • Close all windows. An open window can attract airborne particles like dust that can affect visibility.
  • Keep an eye out for obstacles or debris being blown on to the road.
  • Be aware that people may not hear your horn during strong windy conditions.
  • If you’re carrying cargo on your vehicle, make sure it’s tied down securely.
  • Be very careful passing taller vehicles especially in exposed areas or on bridges.

Safe driving in mountain areas

Before driving:

  • Prior to setting off, check your brakes; test them and check the brake fluid.
  • Carry the tools necessary in case you break down (for a full list see Precautions and Emergencies).
  • Check the condition of your spare tire: the appropriate pressure is especially important.
  • Carry extra food, appropriate clothing and emergency aids.
  • Check the weather and road conditions in the mountain area and choose your route wisely.
  • Tell at least one other person where and when you are traveling and when you are due back so they can alert emergency services If you don't return on time.

While driving:

  • Blow your horn in advance if your view is blocked during cornering.
  • Drive carefully and slow down in turns, especially when your view is blocked.
  • Never speed or pass in sharp turns where you may not see oncoming vehicles.

Safe driving in mud

Simple ways to decide if you can get across the mud:

  • When there’s heavy mud on the road or if you’re driving off-road, stop your vehicle and inspect the hardness and depth of the mud before driving through it.
  • Observe tire tracks of other vehicles to gauge the depth and consistency of the mud.
  • Determine the type of vehicles that have left the track from the sizes and widths of the track. Use that information as a reference to decide if you can get across.

Safe driving on ice and snow

  • Drive with two hands. Always.
  • Before turning, slow down while traveling in a straight line.
  • While turning, maintain a slow and regular speed. If you accelerate suddenly, your tires could lose traction.
  • While turning, don’t make any sudden steering wheel movements.
  • Only brake in a straight line before the turn, and do so gradually. Do not brake during the turn.
  • Increase your following distance from other cars significantly.
  • If your wheels lock and slide, release the brake pedal to recover traction, then slowly brake again.
  • Try to avoid changing lanes in slush. It’s safer to change lanes when slush is not on the road.
  • If using chains, check for proper clearance between the tire and the vehicle, as well as the clearance between dual tires.

Want to learn more on winter conditions?

Fatigue

  • Lowers concentration levels and extends reaction time.
  • Reduces hearing ability.

How to prevent driving fatigue:

  • Take a minimum 15-minute break after driving for two hours and stretch.
  • Don’t eat too much.
  • Don’t stare at the centerline of the road all the time.
  • Keep the vehicle well ventilated and at a comfortable temperature.

Impaired states

Sickness and medications can affect your driving

  • Your focus on the road can be severely reduced by pain or strong emotional situations.
  • If you are taking medication and are unsure about its effects, consult your doctor or pharmacist before driving.

Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol

  • Do not consume any alcohol before you drive and be aware of the legal limits.
  • Designate a driver or hire a taxi if you have consumed alcohol.

General advice in emergency situations

  • Remain calm and do not panic; it will help you make rational, calm decisions.
  • Try to brake in a straight line if possible.
  • If you are driving at a high speed when the emergency occurs, try to avoid sudden steering since it may result in accidents that can otherwise be avoided.
  • You can steer far more effectively at slower speeds. Slow down as much as possible to reduce the impact of a potential collision.
  • Your main priority is to save lives. If an accident is unavoidable, take priority actions that ensure the safety of human life first.
  • Turn on your hazard lights as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you have emergency numbers and insurance numbers on hand at all times.

Regaining steering control

  • Release the gas pedal gently.
  • Steer the car in the direction where the back of the car is sliding.
  • Shift to a lower gear quickly and use the engine to slow down.
  • Turn on hazard lights as quickly as you can until you regain control.
  • Apply hand brake if necessary.

Brakes are not working

  • Hold the steering wheel firmly.
  • If this happens before entering a turn, try to control the direction first.
  • Then try to slow down: shift down gears step by step to slow down.
  • Use the handbrake /emergency brake to stop the car if the speed is below 20 mph.
  • Turn on your hazard lights if applicable.
  • Use upward slopes or hills to help stop the car.
  • If your brakes stop working when going up a hill, shift quickly to lower gear, then use the handbrake/emergency brake to park the car.
  • If available, park in an emergency parking lane, or hard shoulder. If not, then park away from fast traffic and ensure your hazard lights are turned on.

How to avoid it:

  • Test brakes before your trip.
  • Always test your brakes when you first start down a steep hill or if you have driven through deep water.

Tire blowout

Note on the video: The footage is shot at a professional course with a professional driver and tire-explosive testing equipment.

  • The loud noise will surprise you but try to stay calm.
  • Always keep both hands on the steering wheel and grip firmly. This may save your life in case of a sudden rapid deflation.
  • Don’t slam the brakes, keep your foot on the gas and accelerate to maintain the momentum of the vehicle.
  • Keep the direction of the car as straight as possible.
  • Brake slowly to maintain control of the vehicle and lower the speed.
  • Bring the car to a stop in a safe place.

Material to keep in the car

  • Tire gauge to measure the pressure of your tires
  • Spare tire and jack
  • Motor oil
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight
  • Roadside flares
  • Blankets and gloves
  • First aid kit
  • Bottles of water, snack bars and nonperishable food