Can using the right tires help save gas?

September 9, 2010

Now tire manufacturers say they can help. Some are marketing low-rolling-resistance tires that claim to be more fuel efficient.

Rolling resistance is the force a tire needs to keep it moving down the road. Low-rolling-resistance tires can, in theory, save you gas, but Consumer Reports says that there are other factors to consider when purchasing a tire.

Consumer Reports' advice is to first find a top-performing tire that's good for your personal driving style and road conditions. Then use the tire's rolling resistance as a tiebreaker.

Consumer Reports tested two all-season tires with low rolling resistance, the Michelin Energy Saver A/S and the Cooper GFE. The tests show that those tires are more fuel efficient. But the Michelin was the best. It could potentially save you up to 3 mpg on the highway. And that can save you about $100 per year.

In the past, tires with low rolling resistance haven't performed well in some of Consumer Reports' routine tests, including wet and dry braking. However, the Michelin did exceptionally well, rating very good in dry braking and wet. So you no longer have to compromise braking performance to get good fuel economy.

Do note that the Michelin Energy Saver A/S only did fair for snow traction. For snowy climates, Consumer Reports recommends the Hankook Optimo H727.

And Consumer Reports says be aware that no matter which tires you have, they must be properly inflated in order to get maximum fuel efficiency.

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