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Rob's Garage

The best way to improve your car's fuel economy Add to ...

Permit me an observation and a response to the myriad questions I receive about everyone's favourite automotive subject - fuel economy.

Did you know that one of the most effective means to increase fuel economy is to pay attention to your tires? The lowly tire is receiving major focus from not only the tire manufacturers, but also vehicle manufacturers as each in turn, strives to contribute to the global issue of increasing fuel economy.

The rolling resistance of tires affects a vehicle's ability to move across a road surface. This can be attributed to a few factors;

1. Air pressure. Under-inflated tires contribute to higher-than-normal rolling resistance which is ultimately felt in the wallet each time you roll up to a gas pump.

2. The design of the tread and carcass of a tire has a dramatic effect on its ability to roll easily across a road surface.

3. Road surface quality is another factor. Obviously the smoother the surface, the less effort is required to roll a tire against that surface.

Item No. 3 is beyond our control and is limited by the tax base, however, there are things we can about the first two issues.

Number one is easy and an obvious fix. Keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer's specifications.

The second issue is currently being worked on. Tire manufacturer Continental AG has devoted a team to research and address the contribution that a tire makes toward increasing cars' fuel efficiency.

They have discovered that low-rolling-resistance tires installed on a truck can increase fuel economy by 1 to 2.5 miles per gallon (MPG). By comparison, decreasing the weight of the same vehicle by 125 to 250 pounds only improves fuel economy by 0.3 to 0.5 MPG. This is because tires consume about 20 per cent of the energy required to move a vehicle across a road surface.

So the next time you come across low-rolling-resistance tires and are in the market to purchase a set of new tires, consider this strongly as an option - I did and I noticed the difference immediately, as I did not have to press the throttle as far to the mat as I did before I had these tires installed...and no, they weren't Continentals.

Do you have questions about your car? E-mail Rob MacGregor at globedrive@globeandmail.com

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