About a year ago, I made a mistake when I bought new tires for my Prius. My car originally came with low rolling resistance tires, but when it came time to replace the original tires I went with the cheapest set I could find rather than buying low rolling resistance tires. I immediately noticed that my gas mileage dropped about 4.5%, and I knew I had made a bad decision. What about you? Use the free low rolling resistance tires savings calculator below to figure out if LRR tires could save you money.
What are low rolling resistance (LRR) tires?
LRR tires are designed to have less friction with the ground when driving, and in turn require a car to use less energy or gasoline to roll down the road. How much less? That is a good question. In my car the difference was noticeable. My Prius had gotten about 47-49 MPG in ideal weather conditions with LRR tires, but when I changed to regular tires I noticed this fell to 44-45 MPG. According to Wikipedia, my results were on the high side of normal, as a recent study by the California Energy Commission found that on average LRR tires saved between 1.5%-4.5% of fuel.
There are a couple of downsides to LRR tires. Although older LRR tires were known to not have as good of traction and wear out faster than conventional tires, new LRR tires don’t seem to have this problem. I have noticed no difference in terms of traction or safety in my car, and the Wikipedia article noted above states that they may wear as well and have as good of traction as normal tires.
The real downside to LRR tires though is the cost. They typically cost more than regular tires. So does it make sense to buy LRR tires? Does spending more on tires now save you more in gas in the future? How do you weigh paying more for tires vs paying more for gas? Luckily, I wrote a free calculator to answer that very question
Using the Low rolling resistance savings calculator
The first step in using this calculator is to figure out how much gas you will save. To do that, first estimate how much you spend on gas for your car in a month. If your not sure, just take your best guess.
The next step is to estimate how much more efficient your LRR tires will be. Unfortunately, there is no real good way to know this without actually trying the new tires, so your just going to have to take your best guess. I suggest using a number in the range of 1.5% to 4.5% like the California Energy Commission found. Maybe it would be a good idea to try both numbers at the high end and low end of that scale to see what your best case and worst case scenarios would be.
Finally, you need to figure out how much both 4 LRR tires and 4 conventional tires will cost you. Amazon.com is a good place to do that because they have a tool that lets you tell it what kind of car you drive and it will find the right size tires for you.
The prices of LRR tires can be found here.
Now enter that information into the calculator below and see how many months it will take the savings of LRR tires to pay you back for their additional costs. If your not familiar with payback period this is the number of months it will take you to recoup the money you spent. After that, your monthly savings be the amount in extra savings in your wallet each month.
I would consider a payback period of less than 24 months to be a good deal. Above that, you might want to think twice. Ok, now give the calculator a try, and let me know what you come up with in the comments section.
Photo by Steve Garner. Links to Amazon are affiliate links which help support the charity noted on the right hand side of this page.