Does Gas Mileage Drop With New Tires?

Changing the tires on your car will undoubtedly improve your handling, especially in adverse weather, and it feels and looks good to have a brand new set of tires. The only thing it won’t improve is your mileage.

Putting new tires on your car could reduce the gas mileage by between three and eight percent! This will continue until they have worn in a bit, then your car should resume the same mileage before you change the tires. This is all due to an effect called rolling resistance.

This phenomenon happens due to the newer and stiffer tire material creating more excellent rolling resistance. Unfortunately, this means the engine has to exert more force to keep the car moving before the new tires are put on, using more gas in the process.

What Is Rolling Resistance

Rolling resistance is essentially the transfer of energy to your tires by the vehicle’s various systems like the driveshaft that moves energy from the engine to the wheels and then to the tires and through the tires to the road.

The tire grips the road, which creates forward propulsion movement. Rolling resistance is how much energy your car needs to provide to propel the vehicle ahead at a constant speed and is essentially the effort required to keep the tire rolling.

The tire loses a certain amount of energy on each tire roll during this process. Therefore, hysteresis is one of the main factors contributing to rolling resistance, leading to a drop in gas mileage. This force needs to be overcome using the engine’s energy.

If you have been on a bicycle with underinflated tires, you will have had first-hand experience with this as to move the boke forward; you need to pedal considerably harder than you would normally.

Can Rolling Resistance Be Prevented

Unfortunately not. There is no way to prevent this process from occurring every time your tires turn; there is an element of rolling resistance that arises. With older tires that are more worn, the effect of rolling resistance is more negligible, but it still occurs.

This is more pronounced with newer tires as the tire compounds create greater hysteresis levels, especially if you have replaced all four tires at once. However, while it cannot be prevented, the effects can be reduced.

How To Reduce The Effect Of Rolling Resistance

There are a few ways to minimize the effect of rolling resistance, and one of those is to use low rolling resistance tires. These tires are made from unique compounds designed to resist heat generation, and with reduced tire deflection, there is less energy loss and improved gas mileage.

If you are looking for ways to reduce your fuel costs – and who isn’t these days – an investment in low rolling resistance tires could be the solution. While these tires are more expensive than standard tires, the upfront cost of using these would be recovered in fuel savings.

How Much Could Using Low Rolling Resistance Tires Save Me

According to the US Department of Energy, adding low rolling resistance tires to your car could save you as much as 10% on fuel costs, with the average driver achieving savings of around 3%-4% during the life of the tires.

That figure is made up of calculations based on both spending and wastage, where the energy required to move the tires forward is more efficient, which will cut fuel costs on every tank.

Higher initial costs usually accompany introducing any new technology, and the same was valid for low rolling resistance tires when they were first introduced.

However, as these products have become more common and more manufacturers meet demand, the prices have dropped. Outside of the more high-end branded models with greater durability, they are comparable to standard tires.

Adding a set of these tires to your car would save you money provided you drove on them sensibly, without aggressive acceleration, braking, and turning, which would negate any benefits and savings.

So if you drive like you’re ar NASCAR, then low rolling resistance tires are not for you.

Since they are comparable in price to most standard tires and will save money from the minute you put them on, and as they wear over time, they certainly are an attractive option for drivers looking to cut some fuel costs.

If you drive sensibly and have a fuel spend of around $2600 a year, you could save about $117 of that using low rolling resistance tires, and that would get to around $250 or so over the life of the tires under usual driving conditions.

Are There Any Disadvantages To Low Rolling Resistance Tires

There are always pros and cons for cars and fuel-saving products, and the low rolling resistance tires are no different.

The most significant disadvantage of these tires is that they will wear quicker than standard compound tires and may have more road noise as the tire compounds used are different.

The consensus is that the lower lifespan of low rolling resistance tires is offset by the savings achieved when using these tires on your car.

If you are looking for high-performance, low rolling resistance tires, you will pay more for them, but they will last longer than the normal ones and stick with the size of the tire that came with your car.

Even if they are low rolling resistance, larger tires will add more rolling resistance and cost you more gas, so instead, stay with the current size you have and check with your vehicle’s manufacturer regarding recommended tires that could help you improve your mileage.


Sadly, there is no proven way to get around the effects of adding new tires on your mileage, as those forces at work cannot be overcome. However, as the technology and understanding of these forces improve, you can bet there will be a time when new tires don’t affect the mileage as they do now.

In the meantime, you can certainly save money by driving sensibly, avoiding hard acceleration and hard braking, keeping your speeds around that 50mph mark, using cruise control, and avoiding idling where you can until the next evolution in fuel-efficient tires comes around.

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