Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Can we get better mileage with tires?

Is mileage related to tires ?

There are tires available that claim to lower mileage by offering lower rolling resistence. All makers have their own models.

Goodyear produces a tire called “Assurance” that I have on my car. Got approx 80,000 out of the first set, replaced them with another. They handle great.

As to whether they really do improve mileage, I suppose the best way to find out is to go to your public library’s magazine section, and look up the Consumer’s Reports tire issue. I’m sure they’ve tested them.

I think that DrRocket meant to say that there are tires available that claim to increase mileage by offering lower rolling resistance.

Yes, all tire mfrs at this point have introduced various models with lower rolling resistance, and the best ones can add…perhaps…1 or 2 mpg, as compared with the worst old-technology high rolling resistance tires.

And, as was suggested, the annual tire tests published in Consumer Reports magazine do take note of which tires have a lower rolling resistance.

I agree @VDCDriver. Rolling resistance can be subtle in all season tires, but man you can really feel it in some big block snow tires. The first set of archaically designed but great in snow winter tires I put on my SUV felt like they were driving in mud all of the time. In many of the cheaper tires I have bought over the years there was always some compromise going on. Traction won out.

Just be aware that improved MPG’s from tires don’t come free. Treadwear and traction have to be sacrificed. It’s a tradeoff.

Skinnier tires will give you better gas mileage. The problem is - skinnier tires usually don’t handle as well. Car manufacturers are trying to get the most MPG out of their cars these days. So I’m pretty sure they are putting the skinniest tires that can safely handle the vehicle in all situations.

Yes, you always get better gas mileage with tires than without them.

If you live in snow country you might not want low rolling resistance tires like we have, Touring Contact AS tires. When the tires were new, the rear wheel traction on ice and packed snow was sometimes uncontrollable. Locking the brakes (no traction control and ABS) and releasing them would sometimes put the rear end in a sideways skid that would not end no matter how much experience I have had driving on ice and snow with both rear and front drive cars. I will not buy low rolling resistance tires as replacements unless there is assurance that they are good on ice and snow. I’ll take the lost 1-2 mpg as a price to pay to get safer winter traction.

With some wear, the rear traction on ice and packed snow improved a little but is still a little quirky.

In the past we have done well with ordinary radials during wintertime.

“I will not buy low rolling resistance tires as replacements unless there is assurance that they are good on ice and snow”

Before I replaced the decidedly mediocre Conti ProContact tires on my Outback, I did quite a bit of research. I finally decided to go with Michelin Defenders, which are LRR tires, although they don’t have a rolling resistance quite as low as a couple of other Michelin tire models.

The Michelin Defenders have a 90k treadwear warranty, and are rated “average” on snow & ice by Consumer Reports. So far, I have found them to be outstanding in every way, including winter traction.

I don’t know how Michelin did it, but it seems that they managed to come up with a LRR tire that has good traction, low levels of road noise, a great ride quality, excellent handling, and long tread life. This tire seems to have it all!

A number of years ago I worked on a high-mileage project for a full size car to give better than mid-size mpg. The single biggest help we had was a high mileage tire. It was very stiff, had 54 psi of air, and hard narrow tread. They rode like Fred Flintsone’s car on a standard suspension. We redesigned the suspension to work with the rock-hard tires so it didn’t ride like a cement truck. It worked, gave about 2 mpg (in the city!) but handled much like that aforementioned cement truck.

Yeah, tire can make a big advantage, but you pay a price. People are willing to pay that price, now, so manufacturers are making them available.

I buy tires for traction and braking ability. Yes…your brakes are only as good as your tires. I will sacrifice a little fuel economy to be safe…that’s just the way I am.

Northwood Garage, is there a specific reason you’re asking?
The question being so very basic made me wonder.

An average rating for an all season tire in winter traction is pretty darn good. It sounds like a pretty good all round tire. Though I am a big proponent of winter tires in general, I have heard a lot of good arguments for those who drive on highways at higher speeds most of the winter still wanting a tire with good dry road traction and handling which winter tires are often lacking. Enter, a decent all season tire with at least average winter traction. There are drawbacks to just going with one tire in extreme weather but it’s as good a compromise as you can get and still not loose your hearing or handling that winter tires sometimes offer.

I’m with @missileman on prioritizing traction and handling over the barely-perceptible mileage improvement given by LRR tires. I bought a new Ford Escort in 1987, an era when cars routinely came with ridiculous bicycle tires. My Escort had 165-80R-13 tires, and one pleasant evening when the roads were completely dry, a drunk driver made a left turn in front of me. As I tried to brake and steer to avoid a collision, the dang car just slid as if it were on ice! Ended up in a fender bender. When the OE tires wore out, I replaced them with 185-70R-13s, which were far better.

@dagosa–The Michelin Defender is the best tire that I have ever owned, and that includes some other Michelin models. I think that it is a fantastic tire that seems to do it all.

And, as I remind people who balk at the higher price for most Michelin tires, their extremely long tread life actually makes them cheaper in the long run than tires that cost less to purchase, but that wear out quickly.

& don’t forget inflation pressure either. Too low of pressure in the tires will decrease mpg. How much? Don’t know. But there is probably some improvement in mpg at least with the correct pressure. I think that is the purported reason the Feds require tire pressure monitoring be available in newer cars.

According to Capri Racer’s website wider tires can sometimes have less rolling resistance.

Thanks CircuitSmith. I was going to point out that “skinny” or “wide” isn’t the overwhelming factor when it comes to a tire’s rolling resistance - the tread rubber compound is. The difference between small changes in tire size is single digit percents, where the difference between tires of the same size is double digit percents.

So it would be wrong to state that skinnier tire give better fuel economy. All other things being equal, that would be true, but all other things are rarely equal.

The whole tires vs. mileage thing is about to get real complicated.
Supercar manufacturers like Ferrari and Porsche are now coming out with new ways of using hybrid systems that create huge power, yet get good mileage (SUPER mileage for a hypercar). As these technologies find their way to lesser vehicles, and they probably will, there’ll be fast cars that need wide tires but get great mileage… at affordable prices.