Grinding more gears

I was thinking the other day, about the continous arguement of safety. The idea that new cars are safer has been something in question in my mind. An issues raised was one when I was driving down the side of the mountain in the rain just yesterday. the road slightly cambers through the corners on the way down, the inside of the corners being lower than the outside, as the camber changes between these corners so does the flow of the excess drainage. Coming down the road doing 90 km/h hydro planing is noticiable. Being poor I’m forced to run what ever tires come free, and for a while I was running some very skinny 175/5/r13’s. I had no issue with the water, and never noticed any loss of steering feel. Then I ha dswitched to some 205/55/r14’s for a short while, suddenly bombing down the hill in the wet had very dramatic bouts of steering feel loss when crossing these areas of drainage. Understeer was noticable, and the wall surrounding the car would become more of a threat than usual. Having been back on skinny tires again I haven’t had any issues from hydro plaining again. It got me thinking about the constant debate I have with my imaginary devil’s advocate about the struggle between preparing to survive the crash, rather than avoid it. New cars size and weight is constantly an issue to me, when parking an ’85 RX7 beside a 2003 Honda Civic, you erally learn the dramatic changes in scale vehicles have gone through. Weight plays an important role in the tire size of a vehicle, and the heavier vehicle gets, the more tire it needs to corner safely in the dry. Tire width increases, and often side wall shrinks. The side wall is affected by the size of the brakes, heavier cars need larger brakes to stop them, requiring larger wheels to clear the larger brakes. The trade off is a shorter and albeit stiffer sidewall. I do not support sloppy sidewall flex by no means, but in wet, slushy, slippery conditions a stiff sidewall can resist the tire deformation needed to clear water out from under the tire patch. Often, I’m stuck behind slower moving newer vehicles when traveling down the side of the mountain I live on. I often swear at them, and although much of the issue is with my faster pace of driving, I’m often confused by the lack of confidence the other drivers display in these rough conditions. Are vehicles now worse for cornering in the wet and snow from the combination of greater mass in motion and a wider tire not being able to reach the road surface? It’d a question that seems true to me, but I’m not qualified to answer. What do you think?


4 thoughts on “Grinding more gears

  1. the okanagan has some pretty trecherous snow falls and I find myself passing “safer” vehicles in my 87′ gts. Comparing my corolla to a 2012 corolla, the new model will be deemed safer, but safety doesn’t matter of you don’t understand how your car reacts/handles in variable conditions. I have watched a Yukon in my rear view mirror, after I passed him/her on the highway, spin out of control like a curling rock. I don’t know what point I am trying to get across, but the “safety” of new vehicles will not sway me to buy them… When ever I drive my parents 07′ WRX in the snow, I disable traction control because I have a better feel for the car.
    Advances in techonlogy don’t always feel like it’s moving forward.

  2. I’ve noticed this big change in the size of cars too. I’ve recently been researching the evolution of the Lancer Evo and Impreza Wrx. I noticed watching a video with all the generations side by side, that each new model got bigger and bigger, yet when they race, the newer the model, the faster the car. The older models getting left behind by the new cars.

    It seems old cars lacked technology and had to focus on being light weight to be fast. New cars use technology to keep them fast (or make them faster) while dramatically improving safety for the people inside the car and the people around them.

    Technology has the magic ability to make a car corner faster and have more grip despite the extra weight. The issue you have probably faced is that newer cars are expensive, often owned by more civilized people or “cautious” if you will. That’s a stereotype, but I’m sure there are statistics to back it up.

    The fact is, older cars are much more expendable and less concern is put on crashing despite being slower and less safe.

  3. Newer cars in my opinon, and i’m sure most people agree lack driver feedback. so the barrier between sliding and gripping isn’t very well distingushed. basically you can’t tell your sliding from the steering wheel. just my opinion, i’m sure not all cars are like that.

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