Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Neighbor needs new tires 2009 Camry Hybrid. Bigger better?

Change from 215 60 R16 to 225 60 R16?
He wants lowerolling resistance for better gas mileage and longer tread life.
Any recommendations?
Thank you.

No, bigger is not better in terms of rolling resistance. There is no evidence that a bigger tire has lower rolling resistance. Rolling resistance has many variables, hardness of rubber, flexing of sideways, flexing of radial tread belts, and more. Rolling resistance is designed into the overall tire.

His best bet is to replace with the exact OEM tire as this has low rolling resistance as tested by Toyota. I think going to a larger size in this same tire model would more likely increase rolling resistance, since more rubber on the road means more friction, heat, and materials in the tire (slightly heavier).

Most tire mfg’rs now offer high mpg “low rolling resistance” tires. If he wants to shop for a different tire there are more options now than several years ago. He might get a better tire, and he might not.

If he wants to save money, there are lots of tires available. He can even get a bigger size, but the impact on mpg is a big unknown. Most likely mpg will go down if he just buys a standard tire and even more so a standard tire in a larger size.

I suspect low rolling resistance tires means significantly higher prices for the tires. It could be more marketing fluff to jack up prices then real differences in some cases. Check to see if Consumer Reports or any independent testing has been done to confirm which low rolling resistance tires actually deliver on the claim. If low rolling resistance tires are hyper premium priced your neighbor might be willing to trade off some mpg for cheap tires.

Has he made sure the extra width and height won’t cause the tire to hit anything?

Rather than just soliciting random suggestions that may–or may not–include all of the better choices for his needs, you should tell your neighbor to go to in order to see everything that exists for his particular car, including all of the positives and the negatives for each tire.

With tire design, there are inherent trade-offs (lower rolling resistance usually equals less traction on slippery surfaces, for instance), and only by answering some questions on that website regarding his priorities in a tire can he come to a really good conclusion regarding what to buy. Even if he doesn’t buy his tires from Tire Rack, their website is probably the best tool for deciding which tires to buy.

Also–if one of his goals is retaining the best gas mileage, he should probably not switch to a wider tire.

Absolutely do not change tire size, it will amost certainly not improve mpgs, and could decrease them. I second the TireRack recommedation if they were unhappy with the original tire. If they liked them, just get another set.

I’ll add to the chorus. Stick with the original size. If he switches to a non-LRR tire, MPGs are bound to drop. LRR is not marketing fluff.

It looks like the '09 Camry Hybrid came with either the Michelin Energy MXV4 S8 or Bridgestone Turanza EL400-02 … both are LRR tires. TireRack lists 17 choices for LRR tires in the OEM size (215/60-16).

Thank you, all.
I suggested a highway tire.
Lowerolling resistance tires may cost more than what he will save in fuel costs.
He is usually at work when Denver rain storms occur and he can slow in rain - as I did with my first car -Volvo 544 with bald tires.
But I can understand the lowerolling resistance aspect because my roller skates rolled moreasily with larger wheels. (The difference was far greater between skate one wheel and another than tire height from 215 to 225.)

The tire size you’re suggesting they go to is NOT going to be lower rolling resistance. The narrower the tire the better the rolling resistance. 225…while taller they are also wider…A 225 55 R16 would be narrower and thus better rolling resistance. But you may sacrifice handling.

^Thank you.
In the city, does handling ever matter?
I always drive gently and suggest that others do.
Yes, when I bought four new narrow butaller tires for the 544, the mileage went up!

Ok, here are some facts - going to a larger tire improves fuel economy - BUT - the affect is very small and may not be worth the effort. Source:

There can be HUGE differences in rolling resistance within the same size - BUT - be careful because “LRR” is not an absolute. It’s relative to comparable tires - tires with the same UTQG ratings.

Careful selection of the balance between traction / treadwear / rolling resistance will prevent future disappointment.

@CapriRacer - thanks for some facts. Looking at that link, the diferences in rolling resistance between different brand/types of the same size are quite a bit more than the differences created by a size change, right? So if the neighbor’s trying to save gas, your statement that “Careful selection of the balance between traction / treadwear / rolling resistance will prevent future disappointment” would point me to worrying over which LRR tire first. I’ll skip the size game, not nearly as much to be gained.

And regarding size, the LRR benefits would be offset to some (small, I’m sure) degree by the increasd weight of a larger tire, would they?

Also, just having lower rolling resistance isn’t enough to recommend a larger tire, it also depends on the impact that change in overall gearing has on engine performance. Given the fine tuning put into all modern cars, especially a hybrid, I would stick with the stock size.


You asked: "And regarding size, the LRR benefits would be offset to some (small, I’m sure) degree by the increasd weight of a larger tire, would they? "

Compared to the weight of a car, increases in tire weights are minute - and the only time you would feel an effect of the increased weight would be when the vehicle is accelerating. RR is always experienced - every foot you drive consumes some amount of fuel due to RR. So the question becomes how much fuel does one consume accelerating vs how much fuel is used to travel the distance - and obviously that would vary considerably. I don’t think the additional weight is as much a factor except in extreme stop and go traffic situations.

Robert, I would say if he wants to go to a 225, instead of changing to a 225-60-R16 he should go to a 225-55-R16. This will maintain the rolling radius. Also, I’d check with tire rack on this. I’m not an expert, so that was an educated guess. When you increase the width, you have to lower the profile # a bit to keep the sidewall height the same. I would think, all other thing being equal, that increasing the tire width would increase the rolling resistance.

I would also say that handling ALWAYS matters! A Camry with 215-60-R16s is no Corvette to start with, and sometimes inattentive drivers and kids on bicycles can appear in your path very suddenly. When these things happen, it is much preferable to have a car that responds to your input. Even if you drive gently, you probably don’t drive 10 MPH everywhere. At 35 MPH, both the driver and the car have to be able to respond quickly sometimes.

I think we’re getting lost in the details. I think it’s a waste of time to change tires for one major reason: getting good mpgs was one of the top, if not the #1, priority of Toyota when they picked the particular tire size for this car. To think that they picked the ‘wrong’ one is, to me, VERY unlikely.

Robert, Just to clear something up…the 215 or 225 is the width. The second number (the 60) is the sidewall height as a percentage of the width. Also, larger diameter roller skate wheels roll easier because roller skate wheels in general are too small to deal with much surface roughness. Any little wheel will roll on a smooth hardwood skating rink, but when you get on cement sidewalks, it can get tricky. Car tires are too large in diameter for this to be a real factor.

Few cars are made in this day to be flexible with tire size. Trucks have much bigger wells and allow more variation. Cars, not so much with closer tolerances and especially with all the electronic aids using the spin rates of the tires to determine the computer response to traction and stability control. I wouldn’t mess with it. Now, if the overall diameter remained constant and you went to a lower profile, wider tire as recomended in the manual, that may be an option.

Doublclutch has the right idea !