Low rolling resistance tires are increasingly popular, and for good reason.
What are low rolling resistance tires?
Low rolling resistance tires help save energy by requiring less rolling effort which helps improve fuel efficiency. This minimizes friction, which means less energy is expended and less fuel is consumed.
The thick, sticky nature of rubber and the constant bending and stretching of the internal plies are the primary sources of rolling resistance. The final factor that makes this energy-saving feature possible is the friction created when the tread meets the road.
Over the last few years, vehicle manufacturers have placed more emphasis on fuel economy due to both rising Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards as well as consumer demand brought on by rising fuel prices. To assist them in reaching their goals of more fuel efficient vehicles, auto manufacturers are working with tire manufacturers to develop more low rolling resistance tires. While they're used most frequently on hybrid vehicles, low rolling resistance tires are now being used on more non-hybrid vehicles as well.
Reducing resistance, improving performance.
The beauty of low-rolling resistance tires is that they increase fuel economy, which lowers fuel costs. To improve performance, manufacturers are now adding silica, a sand-like compound, to the rubber in low rolling tires. Silica improves grip, which makes for better handling on the road.
Will drivers who choose low-rolling resistance tires see results immediately? Only if they’re replacing new tires with new tires, where the tread is roughly the same depth, which rarely happens. Usually worn tires are replaced with new ones, and new tires with new tread will always have a higher rolling resistance than bald ones lacking tread.
How can low rolling resistance tires save you money?
While these tires might cost a bit more, research shows that you gain about 1-4 mpg for a 10% reduction in rolling resistance. While that doesn’t sound like much, when you add it up over the course of a year, it can more than make up for the higher purchase price. As an example, with an average distance driven is 11,346 miles per year, that could mean up to 32 gallons of fuel saved per year, or $80 per year based on an average fuel price of $2.50 per gallon.
How to identify low rolling resistance tires when you’re shopping for them
Since it is not always easy to identify low rolling resistance tires it is best to consult a tire professional to ensure you are buying the right tire to meet your needs. The best advice, however, is to always replace your tires with the original ones that came on your vehicle, since those tires were specifically matched to maximize the fuel efficiency and handling of your vehicle. For more information on how to buy replacement tires, click here.