Myths of the 90s – 10 absurdities about tyres

We debunk myths that that have been disseminated for over two decades
The end of the last century has brought many myths about tyres to public debate and some of them are still present. Believing these rumours can be tragic not only for drivers, but also for passengers and other road users. Annually, on roads around the world, 1.35 million people lose their lives as a result of accidents[1]. A large part of them could be avoided if all the information we have nowadays about tyres was more widespread.

Below are the popular myths that remained present in the public debate – despite the available research and growing awareness of drivers:

Myth 1.    Tyres are not such an important element of the vehicle – just any cheap one will do

Tyres are the only element of the vehicle in contacts with the road. When a sudden and dangerous situation occurs, it is the quality and condition of the tyres that can decide on the length of the braking distance before an obstacle or a pedestrian. Even the most modern systems in the car will not be effective if the tyres are worn out or damaged. Good quality tyres are an important investment in safety – they provide more control over the car.

Myth 2.    Winter tyres in the summer work as all-season tyres

A winter tyre, especially with a partially worn tread, does not become a summer tyre or an all-season tyre! The special tread design and rubber compound used in the production of winter tyres remain the same – winter tyres have a softer rubber, so that at lower temperatures they do not become as hard as plastic and remain elastic. However, this advantage in the winter, becomes a big disadvantage in the summer when temperatures of roads reach 50-60ºC and more. Then the grip of the winter tyre drastically decreases – the braking distance becomes significantly longer, the car loses steering control when cornering and the comfort of driving reduces. The braking distance of a car on winter tyres from 100 km/h to a full stop can be up to 16 m longer than that on summer tyres. It's four lengths of a car! It is not difficult to guess that the summer tyres would stop the car before an obstacle, which the car equipped with winter tyres would hit with all its momentum. What if the obsticle was a pedestrian or a wild animal? If you really want to drive on one set of tyres, invest in all-season tyres, at least of mid-range quality.

Myth 3.    There used to be one type of tyre and today that will also suffice

In the 80's and early 90's there was less traffic on roads, so drivers had a bigger margin of safety – the braking distance did not have to be as short as now. What's more, the cars were lighter back in the day. Nowadays passenger cars are 25-30% heavier than their counterparts from 20-30 years ago. Let us add that in the past regime any tyres were a rarity, not to mention the latest solutions. Nowadays, good all-season tyres – which have winter homologation – are a solution for drivers traveling shorter distances in cities. However, it should be remembered that this is a compromise solution – they will never match the properties of seasonal tyres. The advantage of modern times is that drivers can choose the type of tyres that match their requirements and the specificity of use. Modern tyres have changed their properties very much – nowadays winter tyres also work well on wet and slippery surfaces. It is also worth noting that the M+S symbol, which can sometimes be found on tyres means that their for tread was made for mud and snow. However, their rubber compound is not suitable for low temperatures. The only official symbol of winter homologation is the three-peak mountain snowflake (the so-called alpine symbol).

Myth 4.    The more air there is in tyres, the better

Absolutely not! With more air pressure than the value recommended by a given car manufacturer, the tyre will adhere to the road only with its centre – and as a consequence it will reduce the vehicle’s grip on the road. In addition, we will expose ourselves to the possibility of tyre bursting due to exceeding the maximum pressure level, and faster wear of the suspension of our car. On the other hand, if the pressure is too low, only the tread bars ensure contact with the road. Only with the optimal pressure set by the manufacturer of the car, the tyre will fulfil its tasks. The tyre pressure must be checked regularly – at least once a month – even if we have pressure sensors (TPMS) in the wheels.

Myth 5.    You can use any sizes of tyres, as long as they fit your rims

When buying tyres – especially on the Internet or second-hand – some drivers do not pay attention to whether they fit a given car model and are in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. Some are convinced that it is enough they fits the rims. This can be a source of big problems on the road. A badly matched tyre can slip off the rim – a tyre too small is more sensitive to overheating or abrasion and bumps, which may result in a rupture while driving. Our cars are tested and homologated on specific sizes of rims and tyres. Choosing tyres incorectlly will result in degraded grip, unpredictable behavior of the vehicle while cornering or the wheel scratching the tyre. Remember that in the event of an accident, the insurer may have reservations about the equipment of the car inconsistent with its vehicle approval.

Myth 6.    The way in which the tyres are stored does not matter

Only tyres stored in the right conditions retain their properties. Tyres stored in our backyards, at a temperature lower than 5ºC or higher than 30ºC, quickly deteriorates and deforms. Do not keep tyres near heat sources, UV radiation, ozone, fuels, oils, greases and chemicals. All these factors affect their properties. When driving at 140 km/h the tyre rotates more than 1000 times per minute – the driver should have no doubts about its strength.

Myth 7.    Small auto shops offer cheaper services – it’s a good idea to save some money

Only good auto shops, which have professional, often serviced tools and machines, and trained crew, ensure that our tyres and rims will not be damaged by worn-out tools or unskilled removal and putting on of tyres. It is not worth going to random auto shops, where the price of services is their only advantage. Professional service, proper storage conditions, correct equipment and training have an impacts on the price, but also our security. Certified workshops will soon be available at

Myth 8.    Used tyres are as good as new ones

Buying used tyres is only an apparent saving. Even if the tread height is adequate (over 1.6 mm), we do not know the history of the tyre’s use. Such tyres, which at first glance seem to be in good condition, could have been operating with insufficient pressure for several months – which damages the inner layers of the tyre and weakens its durability. Tyres could also be unprofessionally repaired or stored at the wrong temperatures. In road conditions, this can lead to dangerous situations – for example, tyre bursting or contribute to a dangerous accident. Where can one buy good used tyres on the market, when only half of the drivers check tyre pressure regularly? Investment in new tyres should be treated as an act of reason – let's not save on our safety. Each auto shop offering such products seriously exposes its clients to danger to life or health, and – according to the law – takes full responsibility for it!

Myth 9.    Tyre manufacturers make more money on seasonal tyres

Profitwise, tyre manufacturers don’t care whether they sell two sets of summer tyres, or one summer and one winter set to a driver in a 5-6 year period. Driving all year on one set of tyres will make wear out faster and the driver will have to buy a new one – so from the driver's point of view there is no saving in driving on one set of tyres all year round, regardless of whether they drive on summer, winter or all-season tyres.

Myth 10.    There isn’t any unambiguous research on the impact of seasonal tyres on safety

Such tests and research – carried out under real conditions – are numerous and widely available. It is worth making use of them – they show just how many untrue theories circulate among drivers. For example – in the study on some safety-related aspects of tyre use, the European Commission indicates that in 27 European countries – in which the requirements for running winter-homologated (winter and all-season) tyres was introduced – there was a 46% reduction in the likelihood of a traffic accident in winter conditions – when compared to driving on summer tyres under the same conditions[2]. The same report also shows that the introduction of a legal requirement to drive on homologated winter tyres reduces the number of fatal accidents by 3%. This is the average value – there are countries that have recorded a drop in the number of accidents by as much as 20%.

– Despite numerous studies and expert opinions, there are still many myths and understatements surrounding tyres. The fact that we do not realize it only emphasizes the problem. The issues of summer, winter and all-season tyres, the purchase of used tyres or the storage of tyres continue to turn into myths and untrue stories. Polish Tyre Industry Association runs educational campaigns as part of social responsibility and commitment to road safety. Often, however, myths and legends are difficult to break, and some drivers argue that everything we do is done for the interest of tyre companies. Nothing could be more wrong – the best interest of the industry is the safety of drivers. The quality of tyres and the responsibility for the lives of drivers are the best recommendations for reputable manufacturersstates Piotr Sarnecki, general director of the Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA).

[1] Data compiled by World Health Organization, 2019

[2] European Commission, Study on some safety-related aspects of tyre use,

Source: Polish Tyre Industry Association