Consumer Reports: Which tires improve fuel economy?
Low rolling resistance tires promise improved fuel economy by requiring less power to move. Which tires offer the best savings and what do you recommend to your customers? Top consumer organization Consumer Reports teamed with the University of Michigan to analyze its rolling resistance data, and conducted testing on the best and worst in the high-performance category. Here’s the low-down.
What does testing say about low-rolling resistance tires?
Conventional wisdom says that conversion of a 10 percent reduction in rolling resistance translates to a one to two percent gain in fuel economy. Consumer Reports and the University of Michigan found rolling resistance can play a role in ownership costs — up to around $78 a year with a conventional tire.
To run the calculations, the university used Consumer Reports’ rolling-resistance data from 49 all-season tires, covering T-speed-rated all-season tires, and H- and V-speed-rated performance all-season tires. They found performance does vary, but in general, OE tires are the best bet because they are typically designed with fuel efficiency as a high priority.
Which tires performed best and worst?
Consumer Reports is the only independent organization that provides rolling resistance ratings of car and truck replacement tires conducted by an outside laboratory according to industry protocol. It is well worth checking their ratings when it comes to helping customers choose a tire based on fuel efficiency.
Consumer Reports conducted tests comparing the best (Hankook Ventus S1 noble 2) and worst (Kumho ECSTA PS91) rolling resistance tires in the ultra-high-performance group using actual vehicle fuel consumption. It found the Kumho has 31.8 percent more rolling resistance than the Hankook tire – a big difference.
There was a 5.7 percent improvement in fuel economy between the two tire models, making a difference of about 1.9 mpg. In testing using a Scion FR-S, Consumer Reports found a saving of 19 gallons over 12,000 miles of annual driving — about $51.
Hankook says its Ventus S1 noble2 features a new silica tread compound for improved wet grip and lower rolling resistance, a wide 2 steel belt for optimal tread stiffness and improved handling performance, and a high-hardness bead filler for improved steering response.
Kumho says its ECSTA PS91 has a compounded rib tread design to increase stability and performance at high speeds, a C-Cut 3D design for block stiffness, braking performance and stability, and a 3D dimple design that minimizes internal heat for maximimum block durability.
How to help your customer
The key takeaway for dealers is when choosing between tire models with similar safety elements and all performance attributes, it is worthwhile recommending the tire with better low-rolling resistance to help the customer achieve savings.
Fuel savings also depends on what vehicle the customer drives and where they drive. Proper tire maintenance also has a great impact of fuel efficiency so it’s always good to advise customers to make sure their tires are properly inflated and aligned to get the best fuel economy possible.
More information on the tested tires
For more on the study and its findings, check out the Consumer Reports website.