Tyre fuel efficiency

Tyre fuel efficiency

If you’ve spent any time looking through tyre descriptions, you’ll have noticed that there are a wide variety of different selling points manufacturers use to promote their products. For customers who aren’t too sure about what kind of tyre they need (and even for those who are), this can be a little bit confusing.

For many drivers, the most important factors in a set of replacement tyres is the handling capabilities and fuel economy. In this post, we’ll be looking at the second point, to thoroughly explain how tyres affect fuel efficiency, and how this is indicated by manufacturers.

What makes a tyre fuel efficient?

Fuel economy or efficiency are the terms used to indicate how much petrol or diesel a car will use to get from A to B. This can vary quite substantially, depending on a number of factors - tyres being one of them.

As tyres are the part of your vehicle that comes into contact with the road, they have a significant impact on how efficiently the car maneuvers, operates, and uses fuel. In terms of fuel consumption, tyres can be optimised to reduce the amount of energy needed to move a car, which means less fuel is used during driving.

Tyres are able to do this by reducing the forces known as ‘rolling resistance’, such as aerodynamics, weight, and drag, which resist your car’s movement. These combined forces act against the car, which is counteracted by the thrust generated from your engine to get the vehicle moving. For a more detailed insight into what rolling resistance is, then check our previous post on it here.

The important thing to note about rolling resistance is that greater levels of this force means that your car has to work harder to get up to speed, which in turn requires more fuel to be used. Tyres are able to reduce rolling resistance in a number of ways, which makes them more fuel efficient.

Some of the ways that tyres are able to reduce rolling resistance include the height and weight of the tyre. Generally speaking, tyres that are light, short and have a low profile are more fuel efficient, as they help to reduce the weight and increase the rigidity of the tyre.

Rolling resistance can also be reduced by the design of the tyre, with many manufacturers using specific compounds and tread patterns to reduce rolling resistance further.

Essentially, this means that any tyre advertising itself as fuel efficient (or economical), basically means that it is able to reduce the rolling resistance of your vehicle in order to save the amount of fuel needed to propel your car.

How is this indicated by tyre manufacturers?

In addition to listing fuel efficiency among the tyre’s key selling points, since November 2012, tyres across EU countries have all been sold with labelling that provides the consumer with vital information on tyre safety.

You’ll probably be familiar with this label, as it is also on household appliances too. Here is an example of what the tyre labelling looks like:

The label is split into three sections, which allow you to easily compare how tyres perform across the following categories: Fuel economy (which is measured through the tyre’s Rolling Resistance Coefficient), braking on wet roads, and external noise level.

Fuel economy is measured by a grading system, with ‘A’ representing the most fuel efficient, and ‘G’ representing the least efficient. Tyres with lower rolling resistance receive a better grade, which indicates both reduced fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions as well. If you want to buy a fuel efficient tyre, then you need to be looking at tyres that receive grade ‘C’ upwards in this category.

According to the regulatory board behind the labelling, the difference between the best and worst rated tyres is highly significant. Tyres in the ‘G’ category can use up to 6 litres more fuel every 625 miles than ‘A’ rated tyres - a significant amount when you consider that the average UK driver covers 12,500 miles a year.

This label, therefore, is extremely useful, as it shows you exactly how efficient a tyre is in terms of fuel economy and emissions, ensuring that you know exactly what you are buying.

What else can you do to improve fuel efficiency?

While equipping your car with economic tyres is a good way to improve fuel efficiency, the amount of fuel you use is also linked to various other factors, particularly your driving style. As a result, there are numerous ways you can reduce your fuel use.

One particularly significant contributor to fuel use is speed, with more fuel used at higher speeds. This is due to the increased aerodynamic resistance faced by your car, and greater acceleration needed at high speeds, both of which burn more fuel.

Aggressive stop-start driving in particular can contribute to increased fuel use, thanks to the constant accelerating, which means the engine is outside of its optimal RPM range. This means more fuel is required to reach speed, which is a less efficient way of driving. Accelerating and braking at a steady rate will help to improve fuel efficiency, and will also reduce the wear in our tyres as well.

In addition to avoiding this type of driving where possible, you can also improve fuel efficiency by reducing the load in your car. Extra weight contributes to rolling resistance, which increases fuel consumption. Try and make sure you are not carrying unnecessary weight by keeping your car tidy!

Fuel efficiency is an important issue for a lot of drivers in the UK, and by driving in a responsible way, as well as equipping your cars with the right tyres, you can make a significant impact on your annual fuel costs.

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Ratings from A-G
A = Best Fuel Economy

WET GRIP wet grip

Ratings from A-G
A = Best wet weather

NOISE LEVEL noise level

The lower the decibel,
the quieter the tyre