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How Rolling Resistance Affects Fuel Economy

Posted by Pete's Tire Barns on 11/20/2018 to General
When it comes to buying cars very few people know specifically what they want when they first decide it’s time to take the plunge. They have an idea when they walk into the showroom of what they want; be it cargo room fuel efficiency, ect., but very few end up making a purchase that day. In fact, according to a study conducted by J.D Power, today’s shoppers can take as long as 16 weeks to decide on which car to buy.

When it comes time to buy new tires though, the process is often much quicker. Many shoppers are content to trust whatever the salesman recommends without much research on their own. While we at Pete’s Tire Barns, Inc. we will always make sure you get the best tire for your budget and your vehicle, a little bit of research can go a long way towards making sure you drive off of our lot with the best option.

Take for instance the growing popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs). One way that car manufacturers boost the mileage of hybrid and EV vehicles is by utilizing stock tires that feature a low rolling resistance (LRR). 

What is rolling resistance and how does it affect fuel economy?
The specialty feature of LRR tires is the way they reduce the energy lost as friction as the tire flexes when making contact with the road. Rolling resistance is a complicated thing to calculate when designing a tire but the difference in fuel economy between a LRR tire and a standard one can be significant. According to the Alternate Fuels Data Center, as much as 15 percent of passenger vehicle fuel consumption is expended just trying to compensate for rolling resistance. This statistic, coupled with more stringent mileage regulations from the government has lead vehicle manufacturers to begin outfitting their vehicles with LRR tires. 

Don’t be swayed by old reports
In the past, selecting a LRR tire was often seen as a tradeoff, and many people still believe that by selecting LRR tires you are trading out ride comfort, handling and stopping distance for fuel economy. In recent years though, great strides in tire technology has allowed manufacturers to compensate for the previous downsides of LRR tires. Consumer Reports has found that many LRR tires are now all around performers suitable for all season use. Tires such as the Michelin Energy Saver A/S, and the Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 are suitable for all season use but also feature increased fuel economy through low rolling resistance. 

Examples of the LRR effect
In 2017 Motor Trend named the Chevy Bolt their Car of the Year, touting that the EV hatchback offered stability and performance despite being fitted with LRR tires, calling it a “great little car.” Then as an experiment they swapped out the Michelin Energy Saver A/S Selfseal Green X tires it came fitted with from the factory with the more sporty, ultra-high performance BFGoodrich G-Force Sport Comp-2 summer tires to test any changes in performance. What they found was that, while the more sporty and aggressive looking BFGoodrich tires did improve the overall look of the hatchback, there was a significant downgrade in the amount of miles squeezed out of the car’s battery. While rolling on the Michelin Energy Savers the Bolt saw about 119 MPGe (a way of measuring the efficiency of electric vehicles). This decreased to 89.2 MPGe when equipped with the BFGoodrich tires. 

This isn’t to say that the BFGoodrich G-Force Sport Comp-2 tires are bad tires, they simply weren’t the best option for this type of vehicle if the owner was hoping to retain the same fuel efficiency, and just one example of why a little research can go a long way when determining what tires are best for you. 

For the Michelin Energy Saver A/S, the BFGoodrich G-Force Sport Comp-2 or many other tires like these, contact our online store today. 

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