Better Fuel Economy, But Trade-Offs
Anyone who is currently looking for replacement tires for their vehicle has probably noticed the increased interest in ensuring that tires are environmentally friendly and fuel efficient. If this applies to you, then you may well have heard mention of low rolling resistance tires. They are not a new phenomenon, having been around since the 1990s, but they are a talking point at the moment.
So, if you are shopping for tires in the Sunshine Coast region, is it a good idea to have low rolling resistance tires fitted to your vehicle? If your car came from the factory with this type of tire fitted, then you should simply opt for the same make and model of tire. The question is not quite so straightforward if you want to change to low rolling resistance tires. There are many different tires on the market. While this type of tire might help to improve fuel efficiency, it may not perform as well in other areas.
What is rolling resistance?
In order to better understand the role of low rolling resistance tires, it helps to know what rolling resistance is. In basic terms, it’s the amount of force needed to ensure that the wheels of your vehicle roll at a certain speed. As a car wheel turns, so the tire changes shape when it comes into contact with the surface of the road. It takes a lot of energy to return the tire to its normal shape. The obvious answer to this problem is to inflate the tire further, so that the shape does not change as much. The problem with this is that doing so reduces the efficiency of steering and braking.
How to decrease rolling resistance
The manufacturers of low rolling resistance tires have designed different methods to reduce rolling resistance. These methods include:
- The addition of silica to the rubber used in tires.
- Reducing the depth of tire tread blocks.
- Using stiffer tire sidewalls.
The problem is that it’s often difficult to tell what gains you are making by having these tires fitted to your vehicle, and what performance issues may be present.
Can you save money by using low rolling resistance tires?
This is obviously an important question to ask, before you have these tires fitted to your car. In the early days of low rolling resistance tires, you would often pay a premium to purchase them. Now, this is no longer the case. Simply having this type of tire fitted may not attract any additional cost, depending on the make of tire you choose and the materials it’s made from.
It’s true that the tread on these tires often does not last as long as the tread on conventional tires, so they may need to be replaced on a more regular basis. However, given the rising cost of fuel, you can often still save money overall, given the increase in fuel efficiency.
It seems that low rolling resistance tires are well worth considering, but always do plenty of research before you buy, to ensure you get the tires that are best suited to your vehicle and the way in which you use it.