Why Does Gas Mileage Drop With New Tires?

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It might hard for you to believe, but new tires can actually affect your gas mileage, and not in a good way. That’s right; your gas mileage can actually drop! Join us as we explain this anomaly and what else you can expect when switching to new tires.

Your gas mileage can drop when you get new tires due to the full tread. This tread creates more rolling resistance than that of worn, well-used tires, thus affecting your vehicle’s gas mileage.

What Is Rolling Resistance?

Every time that you press down on your vehicle’s gas pedal, you are essentially causing energy to be transferred. This transfer of energy comes in the form of either gas or electricity, depending on your vehicle’s make and model.

This energy is transferred through your vehicle’s engine and other systems. The end result is your tires turning and causing enough momentum to effectively move your car. For this to happen, however, your vehicle has to overcome several different factors. This is because it needs to be made resistant to forward movement. One such factor is tire rolling resistance.

Tire rolling resistance is how much of the aforementioned energy your car needs to send to its tires so that you can maintain your movement at a consistent speed. In short, tire rolling resistance is the effort needed to keep a tire rolling.

One of rolling resistance’s main contributors is hysteresis. The process of hysteresis is basically the loss of energy that occurs whenever a tire completes its roll. And since this loss of energy must be overcome by your car’s engine, you see a drop in gas mileage.

Is Tire Rolling Resistance Preventable?

In short, no. Tire rolling resistance is always going to happen any time your vehicle’s tires come into contact with the road. It’s simply a scientific fact that can’t be avoided or prevented. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be minimized.

Because tire rolling resistance is the result of hysteresis, car tires can be designed using tread compounds that are specially formulated to provide greater resistance to heat generation. Since they are made to reduce tire deflection, you can look forward to benefiting from less energy loss. These specially made tires are called low rolling resistance tires.

If you are concerned about your vehicle’s gas mileage and want to do all that you can to improve it, you should seriously consider investing in low rolling resistance tires the next time you need to replace your tires.

You may find that these tires provide the difference you need to maintain good gas mileage. Although you’re going to spend more on this type of tire, you can often make up for the price in fuel savings. It depends on how often and how far you typically drive, but by and large, you can expect to recoup your losses thanks to the improved fuel economy that low rolling resistance tires provide.

Related: How To Remove a Stuck Wheel On Your Car

Benefits of Using Low Rolling Resistance Tires

When it comes to optimizing your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, low rolling resistance tires are a smart investment. In fact, low rolling resistance tires are a much more fuel-efficient tire compared to conventional car tires.

What’s more, research from the U.S. Department of Energy shows that using low rolling resistance tires can provide your vehicle with as much as 10% savings in fuel. That said, the average fuel savings for most divers is around 3%.

That might not sound like a lot on paper, but those numbers can quickly add up over time, resulting in significant fuel savings – both in spending and in waste.

Are There Any Reasons Not to Use Low Rolling Resistance Tires?

As with anything else, there is a potential downside to using low rolling resistance tires. Due to the nature of production, these tires are more likely to wear down faster than traditional tires. It’s always possible that new technological advancements will be made to remedy this issue. But for the time being, it’s a factor that must be considered. Such tires are good for grip but bad for fuel economy, tire life, and road noise

Saving Money With Low Rolling Resistance Tires

As we mentioned a moment ago, your fuel savings can make up for the higher cost you might pay for low rolling resistance tires. When these revolutionary tires first entered the market, they were almost always more expensive than conventional tires of the same size.

This isn’t surprising, though, as new technologies generally cost more when they are first introduced. Over time, as the technology is more widespread, the price eventually drops and becomes more affordable for people to afford. The same remains true with low rolling resistance tires.

Fast-forward to today, and there are many other types of tires that far exceed low rolling resistance tires in price. It’s true that there are still some brands and models that command a higher price tag. However, there are many more that can be purchased at a reasonable cost to the driver.


What makes the difference here is what kind of rubber compounds and other materials are used in the manufacturing of the tire. Also taken into consideration is the structure of the tire. You are likely to pay more for specialty models, so keep these factors in mind when shopping for low rolling resistance tires.

Since we’re on the topic of saving money, it’s important that we circle back to the tread on low rolling resistance tires. As we just discussed, you’re going to find less tread life than what’s on comparable conventional tires.

While it’s true that there are some high-performance tire models that also have short lifespans, they typically provide exceptional fuel savings that make up for any loss in longevity. Let’s look at a couple of examples to get a better idea of the potential savings you can expect from low rolling resistance tires.


Let’s assume for a moment that four low rolling resistance tires cost $500 and have a life expectancy of 50,000 miles. Now, let’s compare those figures with a set of conventional tires that cost $400 and comes with a life expectancy of 60,000 miles.

At first glance, the conventional tires sound like a great deal. However, let assume that each set of tires is mounted on a car that gets 25 miles per gallon and is driven a total of 12,000 miles a year. Since it’s not uncommon for low rolling resistance tires to deliver at least 2% annual fuel savings, they will effectively save you $33.60 a year in fuel costs (at $3.50 a gallon).

That’s nothing to sneeze at, and all the more reason to consider investing in low rolling resistance tires. If gas prices rise, at least you can look forward to making up for the cost of low rolling resistance tires much more quickly.

Other Ways to Improve Gas Mileage

Now that you know how and why new tires negatively affect gas mileage and what kind of tires help negate that loss, let’s look at some other things you can do to improve your fuel economy.

1. Remove Clutter

Does the inside of your car currently look like you live in it? If you have a habit of keeping your car loaded down with odds and ends, or you just don’t like cleaning it, you could be causing your gas mileage to suffer.

In fact, just 100 pounds can cause your fuel efficiency to decrease. As such, you should go through your vehicle and remove anything that doesn’t need to be in there. Make sure you leave necessities like emergency kits and the like.

But clothes, shoes, backpacks, roof racks, and so on should all go if they’re not being used. You might be surprised to find that doing so improves your vehicle’s performance.

2. Don’t Idle

Many modern vehicles come equipped with a start-stop system that shuts off the engine when sitting at a red light, for example. This is done to improve fuel efficiency, as sitting idle uses more fuel than starting your vehicle.

If you’re going to be waiting for someone in a store or to give a ride to, start turning off your vehicle while you’re sitting. This will go a long way in improving your fuel efficiency.

3. Check Your Tires

If your tires are underinflated, your vehicle is likely to use 3% more fuel. Not only that, but poor inflation will lead to your tires wearing out much sooner. As such, you want to get into the habit of regularly checking your tires to ensure that they are properly inflated.

4. Maintain Your Vehicle

Regular maintenance plays a big role in your vehicle’s performance, and this includes your gas mileage. You want to make sure that you have your vehicle serviced on a regular basis to avoid dirty filters, spark plugs, and poor connections.

Conclusion

If you are serious about ensuring that your vehicle has optimal gas mileage, you might want to think twice before replacing your tires with conventional models. Thanks to low rolling resistance tires, you can effectively prevent unnecessary fuel loss and enjoy better gas mileage.

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