Most Malaysians would have heard the term tin Milo used to describe a car’s (most likely a Proton or Perodua) “soft” body panels. Until today, a lot of car buyers still do the customary “knock test” in showrooms, to see how soft or hard the body is and by extension, how “safe” or “unsafe” the car is.

That’s not how it works.

There’s a lot more to it than just that. Having thin or soft body panels doesn’t necessarily mean that a car is less safe than others. In fact, certain cars use plastic panels to save weight, such as the Renault Megane (front fenders) and Nissan X-Trail (rear tailgate), among many others.

Body panels are, to put it bluntly, merely the car’s skin, which hardly plays a role in the vehicle’s structural integrity as a whole. Peel off the skin, and you’ll see complex lattices of harder materials designed to absorb crash impacts. That’s what matters most, not the soft or hard body panels.

Harder isn’t always the best way to go, either. There’s a thing called crumple zones in modern cars. Simply put, you’ll want the car to absorb as much of the energy from the impact during a crash as possible, instead of passing it all to the passengers. Drive an old tank and sure, you’ll feel safe and secure, but you might come off worse in a crash compared to the car itself, and that’s definitely not a good thing.

Do watch the video above and remember to share it the next time you hear the words kereta tin Milo.