• Jul 14th 2008 at 6:34PM
  • 34

The car-buying public has put its collective foot down and demanded fuel-efficient vehicles, and automakers are likely to do anything to answer customer demand. That may include reinventing the wheel, as more automakers look into incorporating low rolling resistance tires into non-hybrid vehicles. The high-pressure rubber can return fuel economy improvements of 1-2 mpg in most instances, giving automakers that use them a leg up on the competition when comparing EPA data. The new four-cylinder 2009 Ford Escape eked out an additional 1 mpg with the new tires, giving the CUV 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Michelin estimates that low rolling resistance tires can save $300 in fuel costs at $4 per gallon over the life of tire, which is fairly substantial.

There are drawbacks to low-rolling resistance tires, too. They're more expensive than standard rubber, the ride isn't quite as comfortable, and the tires cause longer braking distances. In fact, Consumer Reports gave the Escape a lower rating because it had such poor stop times. The bottom line is that customers are looking for improved economy at all costs. Since low rolling resistance tires improve fuel economy, the cars that have them and achieve superior fuel economy as a result will be more attractive to mpg-conscious buyers.

[Source: Detroit News]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wait...does this mean the sticky tires will get cheaper?

      Also, if you want weight reduction how about taking out the passenger seat. Your wife, she can sit in the back with the kids.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Can anyone spell LAWSUIT when they get rear ended or rear end another car because of these stupid tires?
      Michelin at one time had a guaranteed 80,000 mile tire...I haven't seen it lately! And IT had miserable wet weather, hell, ANY weather traction.

      Stop the madness now. Drill offshore...invest in oil futures!
        • 7 Years Ago
        The tire is still there...it just exists as a 65,000 mile tire now.

        I know this because I had a similar brand from Goodyear: ComforTread Assurance. Today I had a flat due to a tire stem rotting out on the side.

        I also decided to check on the warranty for these "80,000" mile tires, as mine probably wouldn't pass inspection now, and are only just at 50,000. First he let me know that they changed the rating soon after I bought them to 65,000 mile tires due to their higher-than-expected wear, then he showed me that the tires went from $98/each a few years ago to $150 currently.

        Even with the warranty discount applied to new tires (30,000 miles worth off), I'd still end up paying a crap-load for a replacement set, thanks to the high prices for crude. He said there were 4 price increases on that model since April. I decided against it, and went with a set of much cheaper tires, as I have no intention of keeping this car more than 40,000 miles.

        Also, while I can't speak for the Michelin tires you speak of, the Goodyear tires were amazing, in my opinion. Road noise was almost non-existent, and they had great traction in all conditions.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Fuel Economy instead of safety" - and if the tires cost more then $75 more then comparable tires, better performing "normal" tires, you just negated any savings. STUPID.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Cut that out with reading the fine print and stuff. You're not supposed to be informed.. you're supposed to be a lemming who does whatever he's told to reduce his carbon footprint. And the auto industry wants to help you do that.

        This is about marketing higher MPG numbers so you won't feel as bad about killing the planet. All other concerns are secondary.
      • 7 Years Ago
      at "NO GAS!"
      hah. you think the price is up because of a shortage of gas, there is not shortage of gas or oil for that matter
      just as it was back in the 70's:

      a shortage of "cheap oil"

      but back to the point, glad to know that already stupid drivers will be even stupider, ahhhhh get ready to assended by that Asc-ender
      • 7 Years Ago
      For all of you whining about the extra stopping distances, drive more defensively.
        • 7 Years Ago
        What good does driving defensively do me when I'm stuck at a red light behind an Escalade who's not paying attention, with a Suburban to my left, an Explorer to my right, and some idiot in a Camry with low rolling resistance tires yakking away on his (now hands-free only, in CA!) cell phone is bearing down on my poor little STI (or my 300D, for that matter) at 10 over the limit, only to look up two seconds too late, slam on the brakes, and crunch into the back of one of my babies at 25mph?

        Defensive driving is great, but there are times where you just cannot avoid the stupidity of those around you.
      • 7 Years Ago
      umm how about lower weight or make the vehicle more aerodynamic?

      can't we acheive the same low-resistance gains by going to the local salvage yard and picking up some skinnies in the right ratios (i plan to run 4 donuts of ultimate wind reduction)? they may wear out faster but i'll bet they are cheaper too...

      so many intelligent ways to increase mpg, but this is about finding a stop-gap, not about a solution.

      • 7 Years Ago
      In short, they get better MPG because they rubber is harder and not as sticky. Sort of like the plastic wheels on kid tricycles.

      The other part is that they hate rain and don't even consider keeping them on when the temperature falls.

      Sort of like a steroid version of Summer tires -- yuck -- and the "anti-performance" evil twin.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Low rolling resistance tires were used as standard equipment on many GM cars in the 1980s. So nothing new here.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Fuel economy instead of safety? No thanks.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You're not ripping out the airbag systems or the anti-lock brakes. And, one could slow down instead of keeping a lead foot. I don't think this is too big of a compromise, though you're free to disagree.
        • 7 Years Ago
        weight is a much better way to sacrifice safety for fuel economy. At least you get a more entertaining car to drive. With LRR tires, you get less safety AND less fun.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Everyone goes on the highway. Everyone goes highway speeds on the highway.

        Just using my car as an example, some nice all seasons would have it stopping from 60 mph in about 130 feet, and LRRs would have it stopping in around 160 feet. That's a two car-length difference...

        Say you didn't notice a stop sign until the last second. You slam on the brakes way late. With the normal tires, you end up just poking out into the intersection, but with the LRRs, you'd slam into the car that's just starting to cross and still have plenty of momentum left over to spend some time in the hospital.

        Just to interject, I actually use max performance tires that allow my car to stop from 60 in just over 100 feet.

        Now, I really can care less if more people start using these tires because that's their decision. However, I just want to make it clear that if you are an adequate driver, your tires are the best safety system you have; good tires enable you prevent accidents all-together.

        -- To illustrate that, I'd like to point out that it costs roughly the same to insure a Civic and a Porsche 911 in many suburban areas. That's because 911s get into fewer accidents because their tires are almost twice as wide, and thus they can stop in tremendously shorter distances.
      • 7 Years Ago
      And car prices go up again.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This just in: accident levels that have fallen as a result of high gas prices have now risen as a result of low-rolling-resistance tires.
      • 7 Years Ago
      That's why its called a gas 'craze'. People are doing some pretty insane things.
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