Tech: Four Tire Features That Affect Fuel Efficiency

In Collaboration with TyreLeader

Tires are not usually the first thing that comes to mind when discussing the fuel efficiency of automobiles even though they have a significant effect. As car users grow more conscious of eco-friendly practices, minimizing fuel consumption must take every component into account, especially those connected with the road–tires.

To understand how tires influence fuel efficiency, you must first understand the concept of rolling resistance. Rolling resistance is typically defined as the force required to make a loaded tire roll. You can think of it like a kind of inertia that the car has to overcome each time the tire rolls.

Tires are the point at which the mechanical energy moving the car is expended. So, to keep tires in motion, more fuel must be consumed to produce more mechanical energy. The higher the rolling resistance of a tire, the more fuel it consumes. As expected, several physical features influence the rolling resistance and, in turn, the car’s fuel efficiency.

Air Pressure

Tire features that affect fuel economy

The pressure’s on–check it

Lower air pressure in tires typically leads to an increase in rolling resistance. This is mainly because lower pressures cause more bending and deformation during tire movement. Tire manufacturers often indicate pressure specifications on the outer walls of their tires. You should make sure to check them at least once a month to ensure they’re up to gauge.

Tread

Tread on tires is done to improve grip, which is essential for proper handling, especially on rough surfaces. However, tread also increases the rolling resistance of the tire. Deeper treads have a very significant effect on gas mileage. Improved fuel efficiency is one of the most significant reasons race car drivers use “bald” tires.

While most car owners will need some tread, as long as you don’t routinely drive off-road, you should avoid deeply treaded tires.

Tire features that affect fuel economy

Tread is good–unless you’re going to the track

Another thing to consider about tread is wear and tear. If the tire treads are too shallow, they will be more prone to wear and tear, which also increases rolling resistance.

Size

Smaller tires as a result of having a smaller surface area move more quickly than larger tires. They also weigh less than bigger tires and cause less friction on the road. On the flip side, they make engines work more and require higher RPMs to achieve and maintain similar speeds as larger tires. Larger tires are generally better for highways and long-distance travel.

Unless you’re changing from the default tire-size for your cars, sizing is not something to be worried about. If you do change the tires, going for a larger or smaller one will likely result in one kind of performance loss or another.

Type of Wheel

Tire features that affect fuel economy

Lightweight wheels are great, but there are trade-offs

Customizing wheels is typically done for aesthetic purposes and usually has no positive net effect on fuel economy. However, if you want to prevent a performance drop or get marginal gains, you have to consider the wheel’s material. Alloy wheels are usually lighter than steel wheels, contributing less to the overall weight of the car.

Wheels are designed with designated load capacity, so you will have to consider your car’s weight and potential load. If your new wheels require tires with a short sidewall, it will lower the load capacity.

The proper tire size required for the wheel is also important. Getting lighter wheels will mean nothing if you have to get wider tires to complement them, as those will increase the rolling resistance.

Conclusion

Choosing the right tire for your car can help you save significantly on gas and reduce emissions. It’s not just about buying the right tire, though; it’s also about proper maintenance. Wear and tear is also a significant factor that reduces fuel efficiency.

Be sure to contact your mechanic whenever you’re changing your car wheel or tire, especially if you’re looking to improve your fuel efficiency.

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