Fuel prices have softened a bit in the United States, but it's still supremely expensive to fill up the gas tank. Much has been said about ways to get better fuel mileage, but Jonathan Benson from Type Reviews offers some insight about tires that is both interesting and a bit alarming.
First up is the obvious top tip for tires. Keeping them properly inflated is a very easy step for getting the best fuel mileage, as harder tires offer less rolling resistance. You don't want to go too far, however, as overinflated tires will wear prematurely in the center. That's a widely known bit of advice, but it all comes back to having a lower rolling resistance. These days, there are tires on the market specifically advertised as having such properties. And they aren't just for electric vehicles.
The clip takes a look at the Continental EcoContact 6 and Michelin E. Primacy, two tires that promise lower rolling resistance. Citing an independent test, the tires do perform better compared to standard versions with the E. Primacy showing a 30 percent improvement. However, the video explains that tires are only a portion of how a vehicle uses and distributes energy. At the end of it all, ultra-low rolling resistance tires in this context offer only minimal mileage gains. Still, a little bit is better than nothing.
Unfortunately, the trade-off for these tires is traction, and to be specific, wet traction. Lower resistance is achieved in part thanks to a shallow tread that allows less air in the mix. Less tread means easier hydroplaning, and the video highlights test data showing a pretty hefty drop in wet traction for the aforementioned Michelin and Continental tires. In one instance, wet performance for a premium ultra-low rolling resistance tire was only marginally better than that of a budget tire.
The video concludes with a mention of significant investments being made by tire manufacturers into technology that finds a better blend of low resistance and traction. Until that day comes, practicing good vehicle maintenance with fully inflated tires is an easy way to save at least a little bit of cash at the fuel station. For more tire content, check out the Rambling About Cars podcast featuring Jonathan Benson talking tires as a special guest.