Can a certain tire really save you $100 per year?

August 4, 2010 3:44:03 PM PDT
Who doesn't want to save money at the pump? And now, tire manufacturers say they can help. Some are marketing low-rolling resistance tires that claim to be more fuel efficient, but do they really work? Consumer Reports put them to the test.

Michelin's ad for its Energy-Saver AS low-rolling-resistance tire is a cartoon fairy tale.

"Along came the Michelin Man, who reminded them the right tire changes everything," the commercial says.

But in real life, can a tire really change everything?

"Rolling resistance is the force that a tire needs to keep it moving down the road," said Jon Linkov with Consumer Reports. "Low-rolling resistance tires can, in theory, save you gas, but there are other factors to consider when purchasing a tire."

Consumer Reports tested two all-season tires with low-rolling resistance -- the Michelin Energy saver AS and the Cooper GFE.

"Both of these tires are more fuel efficient," said Linkov. "But the Michelin was the best. It could potentially save you up to three miles per gallon on the highway. And that can save you about $100 per year."

But in the past, tires with low-rolling resistance haven't performed well in some of Consumer Reports' routine tests. One measures how long it takes a car to stop on dry pavement. Another measures stopping distance on wet pavement.

"The Michelin did exceptionally well, rating very good in both dry braking as well as wet," said Linkov. "So you no longer have to compromise braking performance to get good fuel economy."

But be aware, the Michelin Energy Saver AS tires, as with any tire, have to be properly inflated in order to get maximum fuel efficiency.

Consumer Reports says if you're considering getting a low-rolling-resistance tire, first find a top-performing tire that's good for your personal driving style and road conditions. Then use the tire's rolling resistance as a tiebreaker.


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