• Apr 14, 2011
Let's say that your vehicle's tires are nearing the end of their useful life. Looks like you're in need of standard replacement tires then, right? Well, instead of opting for a conventional tire you could save fuel by picking up a set of low-rolling resistance tires.
Low-rolling resistance tires minimize energy wasted as a vehicle moves down the road, thereby improving fuel efficiency. Approximately five to 15 percent of the fuel consumed by a typical car is used to overcome rolling resistance. Therefore, by reducing rolling resistance, fuel consumption drops.

Okay, low-rolling resistance tires reduce fuel consumption, but how much gas are you likely to save? A drop? An ounce? Gallons? Well, the California Energy Commission (CEC) estimates that equipping a vehicle with a set of low-rolling resistance tires reduces fuel consumption by 1.5 to 4.5 percent.

Let's recap: low-rolling resistance tires reduce fuel consumption. Reduced fuel consumption means less dependence on foreign oil and more money left in your bank account after gassing up. That's a win-win combination. Don't you think?

Note: To mark the 41st anniversary of Earth Day* this year on April 22nd, we're running a series called Countdown to Earth Day that we want to be very welcoming to new readers, both in topic and tone. We'll be returning to our Greenlings series for inspiration here, and if you have friends who you'd like to introduce to AutoblogGreen, perhaps these posts and the coming "holiday" will be the spark to get their green car fire burning.

*Ironically, the apparent traditional gift for a 41st anniversary is land. Since land - earth - is something we can't easily create, perhaps this Earth Day we can give ourselves the gift of stewardship of the land.


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  • 11 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sorry, but tires are the one place where I refuse to sacrifice performance for efficiency. It's a safety thing.

      I put Yokohama S.Drive tires ("AA" traction rating) on my daily driver, and I was shocked at how much better they stop the car compared to the stock Bridgestone Potenza ("A" traction rating)! I highly recommending upgrading from stock tires to something with more grip.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Its all in your head.

      I raced Fomula SAE, motorcycles, auto-crossed all on high performance tires and I am really impressed at the traction from the low rolling resistance OEM Bridgestone Potenza RE92 or my yr 2000 Insight. I drive the speed limit to get 70 MPG, and speeders blow by me, UNTIL I get to the corners and I maintain my speed and pass them back. Who is the woossie now?
        • 3 Years Ago
        I've got the same car, with the same tires. First set didn't last as long as I've had on previous/similar econobox type cars with good radial tires.
        But, I replaced the Potenza with Potenza anyway - afraid MPG would suffer if I didn't. Costlier than probably better (performance) tires.

        TIRE PRESSURE - I think more important than radial tire design or compound.
        I usually run at 15% above recommended, and 20% above on a long trip - if I think the roads will be in fairly good condition.

        I have a hypermiler friend with a 2000-2006 Insight that runs at 80psi. I asked him if he's still got fillings in his teeth. Regularly gets above 80mpg, and sometimes above 100mpg. But he also has other hypermiler techniques.
      • 3 Years Ago
      don't l R R tires have a shorter life than std tires? where is the saving?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Hi Len,

        No, there is no "rule" about treadwear life based on LRR capabilities. If anything, I would expect LRR tires to last longer, all else being equal; since they probably flex less and this would mean they stay cooler, and last longer?

        For what it is worth, I am averaging 50% above the EPA rating, and one of the key things is LRR tires. My most recent fill up was 10.925 gallons for 534.7 miles = 49MPG. If I was getting the EPA rating, that would be less than 330 miles -- so there is a significant savings.

        Here is my fuel logs for the past several years, starting before I started ecodriving:

        http://ecomodder.com/forum/em-fuel-log.php?vehicleid=550

        Neil
      • 3 Years Ago
      The EPA should rate tires based on how they affect energy consumption and list them on fuelecononomy.gov so consumers have a better change to make an informed decision when buying tires.

      Right now it is hard to find a good source of information which makes it difficult for people to make the best tire buying decision.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Slash? Slash by 1.5 percent? That is stunning!

      Since they have handling and stopping ability less than the very cheapest tires and it would make no sense at all to price them 1.5 percent more than the bottom of the market, they should be quite a bargain. I look forward to getting 0.6 more mpg on my next cross country trip. The 4.5 percent dream does not bear discussion.
      • 3 Years Ago
      No doubt these are small percentages, but that is how you get high fuel economy, by chasing all the small elements.

      A few percent on the engine (Toyota increased the latest Prius engine by just 1%), A few percent on Aerodynamics, a few percent on rolling resistance, a few percent on weight reductions. Eventually you are saving a significant amount.

      RR ratings are coming soon, at least in California:
      http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2009/06/california-energy-commission-cec-fuel-efficient-rolling-resistance-tire-regulations.html

      • 3 Years Ago
      How can I tell tell that tire shop really put Low-resistance tires on my car that I ask for?
      What marking these tires have (if any).
      Thank you
      • 3 Years Ago
      I was just looking into buy a set of Ecopia tires. What do people of think of the ecopia tires? If you don't like them which ones do you recommend?
        • 3 Years Ago
        I went with a set of Nokian eNTYRE on my Prius.

        So far I'm very impressed with these tires. Much more sure-footed in the rain than the Goodyear's they replaced.