With the price of fuel seemingly always going up, people are looking for ways to get the best bang for their buck. So what type of tire is best for fuel efficiency?
Maximizing the fuel economy of your car can save you a substantial amount of money in the long-term. One part of your car that you can swap out for a more fuel-efficient option is the tires. In this article, we’ll take a look at what makes a tire more fuel-efficient and then look at some of the best options available on the market today.
The best tires for fuel efficiency are ones engineered with special tread compounds that reduce rolling resistance. Some of the best options available include the Michelin Energy Saver A/S, Bridgestone Ecopia EP422, Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max, and Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology.
Sifting through potentially hundreds of different tire options to figure out what makes them more fuel-efficient can be daunting. To make it easier for you, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide on the fuel economy of tires based on years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry and research into the best options on the market.
How Can Tires Affect Fuel Efficiency?
Improving the fuel efficiency of your car can go a long way over the life of the vehicle if you end up driving it for tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of miles. So it’s worth looking into some small things here and there that can really add up. One thing you might overlook when it comes to fuel efficiency is the tires on your car. After all, they’re just rubber circles that your car rides along to go from place to place.
So tires can’t really have that big of an effect on fuel efficiency, right?
Not exactly. Although they may not seem like an integral aspect of fuel economy, keep in mind that your tires are literally the only parts of the car that actually come in contact with the ground. If you keep that in mind, you might start to realize that they are truly one of the most important parts of the car that will determine how well it does in terms of fuel mileage. But sure they’re important, but they can be changed out for tires that perform better?
Of course they can! As the importance of fuel efficiency has surged in recent decades, tire manufacturers have sought ways for their tires to improve the fuel economy of a vehicle. Using the latest advancements in tire technology, manufacturers have been able to create tires that can improve the fuel efficiency of a vehicle by upwards of 5% - 8% or more! That will really add up over time and save lots of money on fuel.
How can tires have such a dramatic effect on fuel economy? It comes down to three main aspects of the tire and tire maintenance — rolling resistance, tire compound, and tire pressure. Let’s dive a little deeper into each one of these to get a better understanding of how tires can improve fuel efficiency.
A fairly technical aspect of tire design, rolling resistance is the most important aspect of fuel economy. To keep it simple, just think of rolling resistance as the effort that the vehicle needs to exert to keep the tires rolling at a certain speed. Without going into the technical details of how rolling resistance works and how it can be altered, just know this: tires with lower rolling resistance will provide better fuel efficiency than tires with high rolling resistance.
Tire compound refers to the rubber compound of the tire, or what it’s made of. Tire compound actually goes hand in hand with rolling resistance, as certain compounds will have lower rolling resistance compared to others, which will then increase the fuel economy. This is all due to a process called hysteresis, which really just means a loss of energy through the tire due to heat generation and tire deflection. If a tire compound is formulated to be more resistant to heat generation and deflection, it will perform better in terms of fuel efficiency.
Lastly, we have arguably the easiest aspect of your tires that will factor into the fuel economy of your vehicle: the tire pressure. This is the only one of the three that is 100% in your control and doesn’t require any sort of special tire compound that lowers rolling resistance. All you need to do is keep your tires at the correct tire pressure, as shown on the information placard on the inside of the driver’s door. If tire pressure is too low, your fuel efficiency will decrease dramatically. But if it’s too high, your tires will wear out far more quickly.
What Tires Are Best For Fuel Efficiency?
Now that you have an idea of how tires can be designed to be more fuel-efficient than other options, let’s take a look at a few of the best options on the market. The options here are mostly reserved for coupes, sedans, and smaller SUVs as those make up the majority of the vehicles on the road. And once you start getting into bigger tires for trucks, the fuel-efficient options become less viable.
So without further adieu, here’s a quick look into four of the best fuel-efficient tire options on the market.
Michelin Energy Saver A/S
Coming from one of the biggest tire manufacturers in the world, the Michelin Energy Saver A/S is one of the top fuel-efficient options that you can buy. The Energy Saver’s unique silica-based tread compound not only allows for better handling and traction on nearly all surfaces (wet and dry), it is also touted as being up to 8% more fuel-efficient than comparable tires.
In addition to its enhanced fuel economy, the Michelin Energy Saver boasts a 65,000-mile tread life warranty and offers a comfortable ride throughout its lifetime. All of the above combined with an asymmetrical tread pattern that allows for better grip and braking makes this one of the best tires out there.
Bridgestone Ecopia EP422
Next up on the list is one of Bridgestone’s most popular tires for passenger cars and SUVs — the Bridgestone Ecopia EP422. The Ecopia EP422 is constructed using Bridgestone’s proprietary NanoPro Tech tread compound, specifically designed to reduce the rolling resistance and therefore increase fuel efficiency.
But that’s not all, the sidewalls are also made of a special Fuel Saver compound that reduces the tire deflection mentioned up above and further increases fuel economy. The Ecopia EP422 also employs specially-designed ribs and grooves to force water away from the tire and prevent hydroplaning and loss of control during wet conditions. All considered it’s a top-tier tire for anyone looking to increase the performance of their vehicle.
Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max
Often associated more so with truck tires than smaller cars these days, Goodyear has been a staple of the tire industry since 1898. One of their most popular tires for cars and SUVs that you’ll find on the market is the Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max. As the name suggests, it was designed to do one thing better than other models: improve the fuel economy of the vehicle. And it does exactly that.
The Assurance Fuel Max combines dense shoulders with a specially-designed tread compound that reduces rolling resistance. This combination of features enables the Fuel Max to improve fuel-efficiency in two different ways and really boost the fuel economy of your vehicle. Complete with a 65,000-mile tread life warranty, you won’t regret choosing this tire when you go to get yours replaced next.
Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology
Last on our list, but certainly not least, is Continental Tire’s response to the slew of more fuel-efficient tires hitting the market — the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology. The Continental PureContact line has been popular for years and one of the company’s best-selling options. But with the addition of the relatively new EcoPlus technology, the PureContact has taken it a step further than ever before.
The EcoPlus Technology developed by Continental was engineered using TG-OF polymers and silane additives within the tread compound. As you can probably guess, this technology was designed to reduce the rolling resistance of the tire and consequently improve fuel efficiency. The PureContact is also capable of being driven in dry, wet, and even snowy conditions and offers a 70,000-mile warranty on top of the enhanced fuel efficiency.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding