Tyres protect lives, take good care of them

SO many crashes occur on our roads. Roll overs have been reported to be the most common type of car crash recorded over the years, with few drivers indicating the causes of the crash to be faulty tyres.

Most people do not make time to understand their “tyre communication language”. As drivers we need to understand what our vehicle’s tyres are telling us and that it must not be ignored. What is important is to ensure that the vehicle takes you from point A to Point B. However, making serious note of the tyres recommended for your car might just help ensure that you are buying the right tyres, plus checking if the tyres are the correct and right fit for your vehicle. Using incorrect tyres on your vehicle can reduce their lifespan and even affect the way your speedometer reads. 

How about the confusing numbers on your tyres? What are they and what is their meaning?

What is Load Index?

You will also find four digit tyre age code usually located in a window on the tyre sidewall. The first two digits of the code represent the week of production during the year (from weeks 1 to week 52) while the second two digits represent the year of manufacture.   

What is Load Index?

Load Index indicates the maximum load that can be carried per tyre at top speed and maximum inflation. The chart below might help you understand:

  How to read the Speed Symbols

So many people do not understand the speed symbols as indicated on tyres. The symbols show precisely what the top speed of your tyres should be, and note, there are a number of other possible speed symbols that could be displayed on your tyres.

These symbols and numbers will differ across the different makes and types of vehicles, so be sure to check your owner’s manual to find out what your tyres should be and change them as soon as possible if they are incorrect, as incorrect tyre size can have dangerous consequences.


Check the chart below to ensure you understand what your top speed is:


Tyre pressure check is one way to #DoTheRightThingAndSaveLives          

Actions for rear tyre blowouts

Your vehicle will tend to weave, especially at speeds over 85 km per hour. The best action is to hold the steering wheel firmly and let the vehicle slow down by itself.

Your immediate instincts might be to brake, but if the vehicle is starting to move sideways braking will make matters worse, causing the vehicle to spin. Sudden braking is the single worst thing that you can do if a tyre blows out. Repeat this throughout to yourself over and over so that you are programmed to act accordingly.

Keep looking ahead and turn your steering wheel to keep in a straight line while you are maintaining momentum by accelerating and then ease off the air to slow down. Accelerating is not done to speed the vehicle up, simply to maintain the momentum and minimising the risk of and effect of a side slide. Changing to the lower gear might help in a front-wheel drive vehicle if you can control the steering with one hand.

Actions in case of front tyre blowout

The front tyre type punctures can cause the vehicle to pull heavily to one side. Steer firmly to correct the pull.

Leave the front brakes alone. If there is a space ahead, concentrate on steering and allow the vehicle to lose speed naturally. If you can use the footbrake after gaining initial control, be very gentle. Pull the parking brake on and off repeatedly can help you to slow down but care must be taken not to lock the back wheels because this could cause the car to pivot around the damages wheel and spin. Your main aim is to keep the vehicle on course and lose speed naturally. Changing down might down might help in rear – wheel drive vehicle as engine compression will lower the speed but again no snatched or rough changes. Remember that extra efforts will be required for steering, it may be safer to keep your hands on the wheel.

At times as a driver you are fortunate enough to notice a puncture or serious defect early and able to attend to it before any misfortune occurs. However, those unfortunate tyre burst moments also catch us while at high speed and in the flow of traffic. What do you do then and how can you avoid it?

What to do in a tyre burst situation

Step 1: Watch your speed
Science taught us that the faster you go, the harder you hit. The lower your speed the better chance you have of surviving a crash incident. High speed combined with a blow-out could causes one to lose control of the vehicle, so try your best to stick to the speed limit in general, especially if you’re already worried about your tyres.

Step 2:  Do not slam on the brakes
Our natural instinct in the event of an accident or car issue is to slam on the brakes and stop immediately. However, in this case it is the absolutely worst thing you could possibly do. It will throw the vehicle off balance, send you into a spin, or simply cause you to lose control completely.

Step 3: Do not release the accelerator suddenly.                             
Ideally, you should begin to slow down but you must do this slowly. The deceleration force caused by the burst tyre will cause your car to slow down rapidly so it is best to maintain your speed and then gradually ease off.

Step 4: Keep the vehicle going straight ahead
You need to focus on your steering to ensure that you continue travelling straight in order to avoid any collisions following the blowout. Your car will swerve in the direction of the blowout but you should be able to remain in control.

Step 5: Do not over correct
When you first feel the swerve of your car after the blowout, it may be tempting to panic and turn the steering wheel hard in the other direction. Unfortunately, this will only make the loss of control more likely. Rather do your best to keep it straight as detailed in the previous step.

Step 6: Let your vehicle coast to a stop
Let your vehicle come to a gradual stop, using engine braking if necessary. Ensure it is safe for you and your car to stop there before stopping and once you have come to a complete standstill turn on your emergency or hazard lights.

For more information and tips on road safety please contact Hileni Tjivijkua at +264 811279321 or send an email to hileni@aa-namibia.com. This article is for educational purposes under the project #WomenInRoadSafety project.