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Reduce Gas Spending With The Right Tires

Jul 1, 2008
Most people don't realize that having the right tires can improve fuel savings. But it's true. And you probably haven't paid enough attention to the tires you have on your vehicle.

In fact you may be unwittingly adding to your driving expenses by selecting tires that deliver poor fuel economy. That's because you probably don't have a lot of information about tire efficiency. And here are no standardized ratings available to help you make a wise choice.

This will change in the future, because the federal government has mandated that tire manufacturers must start labeling tires for fuel efficiency. The program would create a national labeling system similar to the Energy Star system used to rate the energy efficiency of household appliance.

Like so many programs, it is taking a long time to implement. Consumer watchdogs say that manufacturers are trying to slow down the process, but the companies claim they are moving as fast as they can to research and develop tires that are more fuel-efficient.

You'll find that tires today are more efficient today than they were in the 1970s. Radial tires have improved tire efficiency, and there have been many advances in tread patterns. Rolling resistance, (the power that is lost as rolling tires flex and change shape), has also been reduced by as much as 50%.

However tire efficiency can still vary a great deal, and fuel economy can be reduced. Industry experts expect the mandated minimum standards will go along way to help reduce the amount of gasoline used in the US.

Until those minimum standards actually appear, though, you will have no way of knowing which tire will deliver the most fuel efficiency for your vehicle. Until labeling arrives, the best you can do is remember these tips from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Make sure you inflate your tires according to the manufacturer's psi specifications. You'll find that you can improve your mileage by keeping your tires properly inflated. Don't test the pressure in a hot or cold tire.

When buying new tires, you might want to buy the same brand and model that came with your car. Because new cars are rated by consumer magazines, auto manufacturers choose the most efficent tires possible.

Stick with regular sized wheels. Oversized wheels and rims are much heavier, and wider tires cause more friction. Your fuel efficiency will suffer.

Don't replace tires until you have to. Worn tires are actually more efficient than brand new ones. Turn a penny so that Lincoln's head is upside down, and then stick the penny in the groove of the tire tread. If you can see the top of his head, it's time to replace the tires.

Don't fill tires with nitrogen instead of air. There's still no definitive data showing that filling tires with nitrogen improves either mileage or tire wear. Until the data is in, it's probably not worth the extra expense.

If your tires show uneven tread wear, you may have alignment, balance or parts problems: If one edge of your tire is more worn than the other, and has a "feathered" appearance, you have an alignment problem. If the tire appears to be "cupped," you may have damaged parts or you may not be keeping your tires properly balanced. Any of these situations will reduce your fuel efficiency.

Use snow tires in a snowy climate and drive slow to increase efficiency. Don't buy rain tires if you live in a dry climate.

By choosing the right tires, you'll be sure to improve your fuel efficiency. As prices continue to skyrocket, you'll want to learn even more gas saving tips.
About the Author
Joan Yankowitz can show you how to save gas and improve your vehicle's MPG by at least 25-40% or more by hypermiling.
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