It’s been mentioned on more than one occasion that properly inflated tires are not only safe but can help increase the gas mileage of your vehicle. Fuelman.com says that a tire that is 20% underinflated, can increase the rate at which the vehicle burns fuel by 10%. In other words, if the pressure of your tires is lower than it should be, you’re just wasting gas.
But is tire pressure the only thing that affects your vehicle’s gas mileage? If your tires are pumped up enough you can drive for days? No, not quite. There are a couple of other ways your tires can manipulate your vehicle’s fuel consumption.
Low Rolling Resistance Tires
Get your calculator ready, because it’s about to get a little nerdy in here. According to Edmunds.com, rolling resistance is the force required to keep your vehicle’s tires rolling at a given speed. A tire’s rolling resistance is significantly influenced by the depth of its tread. The deeper the tread the higher the resistance and therefore your vehicle has to excerpt more energy (fuel) to keep the car moving.
As tire companies are becoming environmentally friendly, shallower tire treads are starting to enter the market more frequently. Although a tire with a much lower tread will increase the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, it will also decrease the traction of the tire. As technology advances, it’s safe to assume that tires with shallower treads and dependable traction aren’t too far off.
Tire Size Matters
As you would assume, it is so much easier to get a smaller tire moving from a dead stop than it is for a larger one. This factor of ease in regard to getting a vehicle in motion demonstrates the lower amount of energy (fuel) needed. Driving around town – stopping at traffic lights and making turns – is much easier for a smaller vehicle to accomplish thanks to its smaller tires.
Although smaller tires are easier to get moving from a stationary position, the engine has to work much harder in order to cover the same distance as a larger tire. So, yes, size does matter, but it also matters how you use your vehicle.
As you can see, there is more than just one factor that determines how to best increase your gas mileage. Tire size, traveling habits, and tread depth all contribute to your fuel efficiency. However, properly inflated tires are still the “go-to” approach to getting the most out of your next fill-up.