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Low rolling resistance tires: are they worth it?

Low rolling resistance tires: are they worth it?

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Today is Earth Day and we saw fit to write about fuel economy, which is something we at take to heart.

Many automakers have been using low rolling resistance tires (LRRT) for a few years. While mostly found on hybrids and electric vehicles, these tires are growing in popularity. But are they really worth it or is this a gimmick to steal some of your hard-earned money?

Before debating their merits and value, a quick lesson is in order.

Conventional tires lose energy through internal friction as they roll down the road. As the wheels turn to move the vehicle forward, the tires change their shape in order to make and maintain contact with the road. The section where the tire meets the road is called the contact patch.

Photo: Transport Canada

Recent studies performed by tire manufacturers, as well as third party evaluations, have found that LRRT can help reduce a vehicle’s fuel consumption by as much as 4.5 percent. So, if you spend $2,600 annually on gas, you may save up to $117.

Additionally, LRRT cost about the same as regular, good-quality tires, making them even more attractive. They help save money from the very first year and, with time and wear, they will maintain an edge over other tire models.

Where's the catch? Well, LRRT work like a charm provided that you don't accelerate, drive and brake aggressively, which would offset their fuel and money-saving benefits. In this case, don't even bother purchasing LRRT in the first place.

Source : Transports Canada