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Cars without driver assistance systems need top-class tyres


WE’VE become spoilt in recent years with increased safety features keeping us protected on the roads. But, as Continental has discovered, the age of cars on South African roads is estimated at 13 to 15 years, which is significantly higher than the European figure of between eight and nine years.

This means that the overwhelming majority of South Africa’s 11.3-million registered vehicles have no driver assistance systems such as anti-lock brakes or stability control.

Although ABS and electronic ESC are increasingly fitted as standard to the roughly 40 000 new vehicles sold each month, the reality is that most of the vehicles on our roads still make do with a far lower safety threshold.

This leads to much longer braking distances, particularly in the wet, as well as reduced grip when steering and taking evasive action. Accordingly, it is even more important for owners of these older vehicles to fit the best tyres possible.

“For cars without driver assistance systems, premium tyres are a must,” said Prof Burkhard Wies, Head of Tyre Line Development at Continental. “They deliver high levels of grip when accelerating and braking, as well as precise lateral guidance when cornering.

“In hazardous situations, premium tyres offer higher levels of safety, and this is crucial as the sole link between the car and the road is the tyres. This makes them the most important safety system on any vehicle.”

Drivers who opt for cheap tyres, because of the low residual value of their cars, or consider premium tyres too expensive, are placing themselves and other road users at risk. This has been proven by a wide range of local and international tyre tests.

“Cheap tyres regularly fail these tests due to their much lower levels of grip and unsafe handling characteristics, especially in the wet,” said Niel Langner, Marketing Manager for Continental Tyres South Africa.

A recent winter tyre test conducted by Autobild in Germany showed that cheap tyres recorded braking distances more than 30 percent longer, compared to those achieved with the equivalent premium Continental tyre.

“While this test was focused on winter tyres, the trend is matched in the segments for summer, 4x4 and commercial tyres too, and could make the difference between avoiding a collision or adding to SA’s already dire road accident statistics,” Langner said.

“Even a minor dent will normally work out more expensive to repair than the difference between cheap tyres and a premium product. This kind of false economy usually ends up being the more expensive option, and also translates into a higher level of risk for all road users,” he added.

Despite their critical role in driving safety, tyres are often still considered a grudge purchase. Price remains one of the key deciding factors – both for older cars and even for modern vehicles with the latest safety features.

“We urge motorists to factor in the critical safety benefits offered by premium tyres, which have the benefit of extensive design, research, testing and development,” Langner pointed out.

“Equally, proper tyre maintenance and care is important throughout the year, and specifically during the upcoming festive season with its high traffic volumes and large number of accidents and road deaths.”

Continental is a global leader in the development and manufacture of original equipment (OE) tyres to vehicle manufacturers, and retains its status as CTSA’s premium tyre brand with best-in-class braking and driving safety.

It is also the only tyre manufacturer that supplies to all seven local vehicle manufacturers in SA, comprising Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, Ford, Toyota, General Motors and Nissan.

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