Today, everyone is looking for the answer to better gas mileage. Vehicle owners and drivers are on a constant hunt for secrets, miracle cures, rises in the economy, and blatant luck to reduce gas mileage, prices, and fuel consumption. There are several reasons why vehicles can get good or bad “miles to the gallon.” There are so many factors that affect this area of concern, however, there is one variable that is hardly discussed but highly influential when it comes to fuel mileage. This variable is tire width. Tires have a large influence on how a car or truck operates on the road. Continue reading to learn how tire size can affect fuel economy and gas mileage on the road.

Factoring in Wind and Rolling Resistance

There are two things to consider when thinking about tires and their effect on the total miles to the gallon; one is wind resistance, and the other is rolling resistance. When a car is driving at higher speeds, it experiences higher wind resistance, which means a lower fuel economy result.

Rolling resistance is the impact the road has on the tires, and how it affects its performance. If you change the features (size and width) of your tires, it will then influence the interaction it has with the road; thus affecting the gas mileage. This is where tire width can begin to influence gas mileage.

Many people believe by changing the height of a car’s tires, they can increase its fuel economy. This is not a reliable idea. You see, speed-o-meters are specifically calibrated to the number of revolutions a set of tires makes per mile while driving. If the original set of tires is replaced, the calibration will be off and changes in fuel economy will be blurred.

Shorter tires will calculate at higher miles per gallon because they will make so many more revolutions per mile. This negatively affects fuel consumption because it makes the car’s engine work at a higher rpm to achieve the same speeds. Taller tires will do just the opposite while still offering an inaccurate reading.

Tire Width vs. Miles Per Gallon

Tire width is one of the only tire size factors that can influence gas mileage in a positive way. For example, a narrow tire will have less wind resistance, rolling resistance, and weight, thus increasing gas mileage. If choosing a narrower tire, be aware that they can make the car’s handling characteristics more difficult to control.

It is best to always install the proper size tires for your particular vehicle. A professional tire tech or mechanic will have no problem helping you figure this out. Also, keeping your tires fully inflated can improve the total number of miles to the gallon.