Tire Buying Guides

Low rolling resistance tires & fuel efficiency

Last updated 11/03/2023 - Originally published 9/24/2020
Written by SimpleTire

With the continuous rise in gas prices and concern about the environment over the past decade, it's become necessary for automotive manufacturers to meet the demands of consumers and government agencies-vehicles with better fuel efficiency. The tire industry also heeded the call to increase the fuel efficiency of vehicles by implementing new technology in many of their tires. The top tire brands set out to create quality low rolling resistance tires that were geared to maximize the fuel efficiency of many vehicle types.

Will Low Rolling Resistance Tires Lower MPG?

What is there to understand about tires? They're round and they roll. This feeling is quite common among the average vehicle owner. Few people outside of auto enthusiasts, tire technicians, and automotive service professionals understand the technology and precision that is put into tire design. In fact, tire technology has increased by leaps and bounds thanks in part to the information age. This has led to the development of safer tires, vast and varied qualities and styles of tires as well as more fuel-efficient tires known as low rolling resistance tires.

Low rolling resistance tires won't increase gas mileage beyond what is considered possible by the vehicle manufacturer. For example, if you drive a Toyota Prius and enjoy an average of 47-50 mpg each time you fill up, adding a low rolling resistance tire appropriate for the vehicle isn't going to bump the mpg up to 60. The use of low rolling resistance tires helps maximize any vehicle's fuel efficiency and keep emissions as low as possible. That's precisely why Prius vehicles are already equipped with low rolling resistance tires in order to aid in maximum fuel efficiency when they roll off the assembly line.

Low Rolling Resistance Tires vs. Regular Tires

The difference between low rolling resistance tires and regular tires is found within the tire technology applied to reduce footprint drag. The footprint, or contact patch, is the rubber that comes in contact with the road as the tire continues in its rotation. To better illustrate a contact patch, imagine the car when it is stopped. The contact patch is the part of the tire remaining in contact with the ground.

While a tire is round, it's also made to flex to the shape of the road beneath it. This means that it loses its circular shape in order to properly grip the road. The science behind low rolling resistance tires is found throughout every part of the tire, from rubber compounds to sidewall construction to how certain tread patterns roll freely across the pavement.

Standard tires will slightly reduce gas mileage when newly installed on a vehicle. This reduction is small when considering the average of city and highway mpg and many drivers wouldn't notice any difference. The slight decrease is due to the tread being larger on new tires and creating more resistance when working through the footprint.

Low Rolling Resistance Tire Brands Available

As we already mentioned, there are a variety of tire styles categorized as low rolling resistance tires. Many major tire manufacturers have met the demand for tires that possess better fuel efficiency, and many of these top brands offer several low rolling resistance tire options.

Many vehicles designed for optimal fuel efficiency, such as hybrids, come standard with these tires. For other cars including high-performance coupes, sedans, and SUVs that need a quality tire that's capable of improving fuel efficiency while providing reliable performance characteristics. There are other major brands available: Bridgestone, Pirelli, Continental, Kumho, and many more.

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