Every Sunday we find improvised football coaches voicing their opinions and instructions, a habit that has also stretched to many other fields, spanning fashion and cars. Opinions were only shared with family and friends in the past but, since its creation, the Internet has contributed to disseminate information that is often questionable and, at times, even wrong. These deceptive rumours then become urban myths. Such clichés obviously also involve delicate sectors that are crucial for safety. Let's consider the world of tyres, for instance.
THERE IS NO SECOND CHOICE
Widespread, groundless fake news claims that there is a parallel market for the so-called “second choice” tyres, which can be recognised by coloured stickers affixed on the sides. Nothing could be further from the truth because companies (naturally, those which produce standardised tyres, the only ones on the market) only release first choice tyres. Indeed, every structural defect and even the smallest aesthetic imperfection in printed words are given the same importance, with subsequent destruction of the product.
THE MYSTERY OF THE RED STICKER
But what do those coloured round stickers mean? They are merely indicators provided for the tyre shop to precisely place the tyre on the wheel rim, thus reducing to a minimum the need to use lead weights for balance. This means that price differences, which are at times considerable, between a specialised dealer and shopping mall display racks do not depend on quality but merely on the fact that the latter do not offer the vehicle's owner the same services.
MILK EXPIRES BUT TYRES DO NOT
Another urban myth that has spread in recent years concerns the date printed with the mandatory markings, along with dimensions, load index and speed rating. The indication of the production week cannot be used to establish an expiry date, as in the case of foodstuffs. Its only purpose is to guarantee lot traceability after distribution.
M+S OR WINTER TYRES?
Every year, winter months witness the recurrent dissemination of fake information about winter tyres, starting from their classification. Let's mention one of the many: M+S (mud &snow) markings do not suffice to classify a tyre as suitable for the most challenging surfaces, such as snow and ice, though the legislation of certain countries “makes do” with them. In cold weather, the safety offered by winter tyres is ensured by the silica-reinforced rubber and by the presence of fine lamellae on the tread, the contact surface with the ground. The presence of these technological solutions is confirmed by the so-called ‘three peak mountain snowflake’, the stylised icon of a snowflake inside a mountain with three peaks. Only the presence of this marking indicates that the tyres are capable of ensuring the utmost safety in extreme winter weather.
IT IS NOT PROHIBITED TO USE WINTER TYRES IN SUMMER
New generation winter tyres ensure stability and a firm grip on the road in extreme weather, even in heavy rain. Hence, it is absolutely wrong to claim that these tyres are less effective than summer ones in preventing aquaplaning. Rather, the rubber blends of winter tyres react better to the cold and, therefore, enhance safety. It is not the type of tyre that makes the difference but the design of the tread and, naturally, the speed when entering a water puddle. Likewise, it is fake news to say that it is forbidden to use winter tyres in summer, and that one risks heavy fines for doing so. High temperatures might speed up wear and tear but it is not mandatory to use summer tyres from mid-April. Rather, it is mandatory to replace them only if the winter tyres have a low speed rating and/or small specific dimensions, indicated in the registration certificate. However, though it is not forbidden to use winter tyres in summer, using the right tyres for each season is highly recommended for safety reasons.
WHAT ABOUT SPEED LIMITS? IT IS A MATTER OF COMMON SENSE
Always concerning winter tyres, it is wrong to claim that speed must be reduced in case of snow, as required when using snow chains. The 50 km/h speed limit only applies for snow chains because the vibrations transmitted at higher speeds might damage tyres, suspensions and coachwork. There are standardised winter tyres designed for speeds up to 270 km/h, with performance resembling that of summer tyres. In this case, the speed limits are the ones established by road signs and, obviously, by common sense.