Why New Tires Decrease the Gas Mileage? Reasons

Have you ever noticed your gas mileage dipping after getting new tires? It’s not just your imagination. New tires can indeed lead to a decrease in gas mileage, and here’s why:

  • Increased rolling resistance
  • Mismatched tread design
  • Wrong sized tires
  • Stiffer materials and layers
  • Larger and heavier tires

Increased Rolling Resistance

The most significant factor is the increased rolling resistance. New tires usually have fuller treads compared to worn, well-used tires. These deeper treads and the stiffness increase the resistance as the tire rolls on the road. This means your car needs more energy to move forward, thus consuming more fuel​​​​​​.

Mismatched Tread Design

The tread design of your new tires can affect gas mileage if it doesn’t match the roads you usually drive on.

Different tread designs, like all-season, off-road, or high-performance, are suited for specific road conditions. If the tread design of your new tires is not optimal for your regular driving conditions, it can increase the rolling resistance, thereby affecting fuel mileage.

For example, if you have replaced worn-out all-season tires with a high-performance tire, you will experience a drop in mileage as high-performance tires have more rolling resistance.

Similarly, if you have replaced touring tires with mud tires, you should expect a significant decrease in gas mileage. Mud tires have a deep and aggressive tread design and are quite heavier compared to touring tires.

Wrong Sized Tires

If the new tires are not the same size and weight as your previous ones, this can affect fuel efficiency. Larger tires will weigh more, meaning your car now has to use more power to rotate the wheels, leading to increased fuel consumption.

So, what does this mean for you? When you get new tires, expect a slight drop in gas mileage initially.

Stiffer Materials and Layers

When new, the materials and layers of a tire are stiffer. Over time, as the tires wear, they tend to soften. This initial stiffness causes more resistance as the tires make contact with the road surface, leading to a decrease in gas mileage​​.

Heavier Tires

New tires are often slightly heavier than your old ones. This additional weight means your car needs more energy, and therefore more fuel, to keep the tires moving. Larger tires also require more energy to turn, which leads to increased fuel consumption.

Is Rolling Resistance High When the Tires Are New?

Yes, rolling resistance is indeed higher when the tires are new. This increased resistance is primarily due to the fuller treads and stiffer materials of new tires, which create more drag against the road surface.

How to Maintain Gas Mileage with New Tires?

  • Choose the right tire size
  • Break in new tires gently
  • Select the appropriate tread design
  • Consider tires with low rolling resistance
  • Balancing and alignment

Choose the Right Tire Size

Always refer to your vehicle’s manual or the placard on the driver’s side door jamb for the recommended tire size. Sticking to these specifications ensures that the tires match your vehicle’s design and weight requirements.

Break-In New Tires Gently

New tires have a break-in period during which the tread smooths out. Aggressive driving during this period can increase wear and fuel consumption.

For the first 500-800 kilometers (approximately 300-500 miles), drive gently. Avoid hard braking and rapid acceleration to allow the tires to break in evenly and maintain their efficiency.

Select Appropriate Tread Design

Choose a tread design that suits your most frequent driving conditions. For instance, if you mainly drive on highways, opt for a highway or all-season tread design instead of an off-road tread design. The treads of highway and all-season tires are designed for smooth rides.

Consider Tires with Low Rolling Resistance

Some tires are designed to minimize rolling resistance, which can help save fuel. Look for tires labeled as low rolling resistance or fuel-efficient. These tires are engineered to reduce energy loss as the tire rolls, thus saving fuel.

However, remember that low-rolling-resistance tires have generally short lifespans due to shallow tread depth. They are mostly suitable for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Balancing and Alignment

New tires always need balancing. This is to make sure that the new tires are fully engaged with the existing wheels. This process involves adjusting the weight distribution around the tire and wheel assembly.

Unbalanced tires lead to uneven tire wear and increased rolling resistance, forcing the engine to work harder and use more fuel. This results in reduced gas mileage as the vehicle consumes more fuel to compensate for the imbalance.

During new tire installation, it is possible to have disturbance in the alignment angles. Before installing new tires, it is crucial to inspect the alignment to see if everything is working fine.

Similarly, it is advisable to once again check the alignment after installing the tires. This is to make sure that the tire installation has been done properly without affecting the alignment.

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