Drive Informed

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In response to a thread about a totaled AP1, our member CKit said “Try to listen to the car and traction available rather than assuming you have the grip you would normally have under perfect conditions. Road conditions, car conditions, weather, etc. change from day to day. I frequently hear people comment that they “didn’t take a turn too fast,” but spun out. But then in pictures, there was some gravel, a little dip or something else that made a turn be “too fast” in actuality.” These words could not have come at a more appropriate time and apply to AP2 drivers as well. In short it means that we have to drive informed, empowered by our knowledge of the car and the road conditions unfolding before our eyes.

Another recent thread in S2000 Talk also points to total vehicle damage possibly caused by tire condition and wet weather. Two recent damage threads, both featuring AP1s, could lead some to think that the AP1 is a widow maker, but the inquisitive mind would ask, how then did it survive all those years in the hands of the owner without getting wrecked? We think the answer lies in the fact that as the car gets cheaper, more people (possibly younger) can afford to purchase it and several of them seem to be coming from driving front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicles. A FWD car will never quite have the oversteer characteristics of a rear-wheel drive (RWD) car. One has to be highly skilled or incredibly unskilled to get the rear of a FWD car to step out. A RWD car, especially a car like the S2000, demands a more attentive driver that listens and responds to the car’s feedback. On sunny and warm days, the tires grip better and the car can be a joy to drive, but when the conditions are inclement, the road conditions suspect and the temps a lot cooler, it won’t take much to crash the car. To sum it up, it is easier to drive a FWD car at 10/10ths than it is to drive the S2000 at 7/10ths and any attempt to drive beyond one’s limits will likely result in tragic consequences.

Temperatures have started dropping as autumn sets in and the condition of roads, especially in portions of the northeast, is suspect owing to heavy rainfall. Corners have become gravel traps and a loaded suspension could easily lose traction and slide off the asphalt all the more so when driving a vehicle that sends power to the rear wheels. So let us assure you that there is no shame if you wanted to drive like a grandma.

Several of the original owners who purchased the S2000 grew up driving RWD vehicles that lacked very many driving aids. It was probably their age and the skills they possessed that ensured that they kept the car in one piece. Contrast that to some of our newer members that graduate from a Civic or a Subaru, both of which lack the characteristics that would help them understand the dynamics of RWD. Often we see younger members ridiculed for their mistakes, but can we really hold them responsible for growing up driving FWD cars and assuming that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander, not realizing that the S2000 is no gander but more like a snake.

Like our original members, our younger members too have a responsibility to keep the tradition of the S2000 going and must recognize that the torch has been passed on to them. This tradition will keep going as  long as we stay alive, stay healthy and keep driving the car. In order to do that, it is imperative that we learn how the car behaves and develop an understanding of what our limit is. If not, road conditions and the car will conspire to teach us a harsh lesson.

A tire depth gauge as well as a tire pressure gauge can be purchased for not a lot of money and will go a long way towards keeping you informed about the condition of your tires. It would also help for one to learn about the tires they have on their car. Newer members buying the car would do good to log on to Tire Rack or the Wheels and Tires Forum and read the specifications and reviews about the tires on their car. In addition, they must also compare their tire to the OEM S-02s to see how the tires on the car stack up. The car we all drive is such that even a slight change in tire pressure can yield a significant difference in handling. Being informed and knowledgeable about your car and its tires will not only keep the car by your side, but also make you a better driver. Professional race car drivers are fast not only because they possess certain skills, but also because they have a keen eye for the conditions and an intrinsic knowledge about the setup of their car. Equipped with that knowledge they know where they can push the car and when they should back off. The S2000 calls for that kind of commitment from us and we hope you will commit to it unless you value your insurance payout a lot more than the joy of owning and driving the car.

We hope you will take the extra effort and drive informed going forward.  Let us pledge to keep our car out of the Official Accident Thread. Are you game for this?


Related Links:

Tire Maintenance and Safety Manual

Tire Tirade

S2k’s totaled in the snow

Wheels and Tires Forum

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