All You Need To Know About Tire Rolling Resistance

All You Need To Know About Tire Rolling Resistance

We think you have certainly heard about this term while searching for new tires. You probably also know that the lower this resistance is, the better for your car. But what exactly is the tire rolling resistance role? And how does it impact the car's traction? In fact, the rolling resistance is nothing but the amount of energy the tire consumes when it's rolling on the road. Higher or lower energy consumption depends on how much the tire deforms while rolling.

Actually, several factors influence the resistance rate of the tires, apart from their degree of deformation. Here I mostly refer to tire pressure and how optimal its level is, the materials that the manufacturers use, the diameter and size of the wheel, as well as its tread pattern. The idea is that the higher the tire rolling resistance, the more energy is used to propel it forward. As a result, one of the most significant side effects is high fuel consumption.

Analysts found that fuel consumption increases on average by 3-5% in the context of a 30% increase in tire rolling resistance. What other aspects influence tire rolling resistance and how can we influence them? We find it out right away from the post that follows. 1

The Role Of Tire Grip Over Rolling Resistance

It would seem that the ideal tires are those that offer the lowest rolling resistance possible. Well, I understand your perspective, but you should know that a certain level of rolling resistance is necessary anyway. Do not forget that the natural outcome of rolling resistance results in traction as a consequence of tire/road friction. An effective grip is crucial in the context of traction. Thanks to the traction, the car receives enough force to move forward and to "stimulate" the tire to move on instead of spinning in place.

So it is a fairly complex mechanical and physical process in which all the forces are dependent on each other. In this context, it is not possible to remove the rolling resistance from the equation, because it also has its crucial role. The bottom line is that rolling resistance is necessary. And yet, is it somehow possible to benefit from both a great grip and a low rolling resistance rating? 2

LLR Tires

I answer the previous question: yes, it is possible to benefit from both a great grip and a low rolling resistance. This is because manufacturers constantly improve tire advanced technologies and visions. As a result of many tests and trials, they created LLR tires. These mean Low Rolling Resistance tires. Their purpose is to combine the benefits of a low resistance rating, high grip, and optimal fuel consumption.

The manufacturers have a different approach to the production of these tires. First of all, the architecture of LLR tire differs from the traditional one. The goal is that the tire keeps its integrity as much as possible by reducing deformity ratings while rolling. As long as it keeps its shape, the energy consumed is less, which leads to more friendly fuel consumption.

Secondly, manufacturers draw attention to the weight of the tire. According to physical laws, the heat generated by a massive object is much greater than that of a small object. Starting from this premise, manufacturers seek to reduce tire weight. And they achieve it through special materials' formulas, which is the third specific feature of LLR tires. Manufacturers find alternatives for traditional rubber, mixing it with components that dramatically reduce its weight, keeping its flex and resistance at the same time. 3

Factors Influencing Tire Rolling Resistance

Returning to traditional tires, I think it is good to know the factors that contribute to the rolling resistance aspect. From the above, you probably know that the influence criteria include tire width, diameter, architecture, tread, and pressure. Let's stop at some of them. 

Tire Pressure

How do you think the pressure in your tires influences their rolling resistance? It depends on the pressure level, actually. If we talk about a higher pressure, the tire is less prone to deformation. And reduced deformation is equivalent to reduced rolling resistance, which would seem very beneficial.

The trick in this whole story is that the deformation is reduced only if we are talking about ideal and smooth roads. But how often do you travel on such roads?
While high pressure might be beneficial in such circumstances, keep in mind that overinflation leads to other potential risks such as a blowout. So, the benefits do not really justify the risks and it would be good to maintain optimal tire pressure.

On the other extreme, here is what happens with under-inflated tires in off-road conditions: these provide lower rolling resistance, as strange as it sounds. The explanation lies in the fact that an underinflated tire adapts much better to off-road conditions, the traction being conditioned by the rugged surface itself. 4

Tire Size And Width

The small diameter of the tires is a negative influencing factor. These provide a higher rolling resistance. In the same context, the resistance becomes much lower as the width of a tire is larger.

Tire Construction

A no less important aspect is the construction of the tire. If a tire has little material in its architecture, then less material is prone to deformation. The elasticity of the material also matters enormously. Energy is consumed much less when the material is more flexible.

Also in this context, tire tread patterns are directly proportional to how much energy the tires consume while rolling. Aggressive, bold, and tall treads are detrimental to rolling resistance. Subsequently, those that have smooth and shallower treads will be much more beneficial from the rolling resistance perspective. Either way, the manufacturers do everything possible to find the golden mean from all standpoints.

Why Do Narrow Tires Generate Increased Rolling Resistance?

5. The answer lies in the degree of tire deflation. It may not be something clearly visible to the naked eye, but any tire is subject to deflation under the load of the body. This leads to the formation of more contact with the road. The narrower tire patch has a thinner and more elliptical contact patch.

On the other hand, the wider tire has a more flattened area. This shorter patch doesn't affect the rolling resistance that much. Conversely, the elongated area of the narrow tire is likely to generate more deformation during rotation as it loses more of its roundness. As a result of greater deformation, the narrow tire generates higher rolling resistance.

Best LLR Tires

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Tire Rolling Resistance: FAQs

What is Meant By Tire Rolling Resistance?

All tires are subject to different forces that act on them to propel them forward. The totality of these forces determines the effort exerted by the engine to keep the vehicle in motion. This effort, or energy, is also called rolling resistance and includes factors such as the weight of the vehicle, friction against the road, and gravity, among others. The greater the effort or rolling resistance, the more the vehicle consumes fuel or electricity if we are talking about EVs. In the modern industry, tire manufacturers aim to reduce tire rolling resistance as much as possible for the economy of drivers and the reduction of CO2 emissions.

Is Rolling Resistance Better High or Low?

The lower the rolling resistance, the better. Statistics confirm that low-rolling-resistance tires help save about 10% of fuel. Globally, this drop has a significant impact on the reduction of gas emissions. In addition, drivers also benefit from advantages because they pump fuel a little less often, which reduces their expenses.

What Increases Rolling Resistance?

Several factors can influence the rolling resistance of tires. These include but are not limited to the architecture of the tire, especially the tread, the size and width of the tire, as well as the pressure in it. If the tire is not properly inflated, the rolling resistance will increase which will lead to more fuel consumption.

Is Rolling Resistance the Same as Friction?

These two terms are usually used interchangeably. In fact, the rolling resistance is a form of friction. The rolling resistance is a force that opposes the rolling of an object, in our case - tires. The definition of fear is the resistance encountered when one body is moved in contact with another. So, basically, the two terms are somewhat synonymous.

Does Rain Increase Rolling Resistance?

Actually, yes. Rolling resistance means the force with which the rolling of the tire opposes any liquid or solid surface. In the given case, the water will make the rolling of the tire slightly more difficult because it exerts additional effort to drain the water from its path. Tire manufacturers constantly optimize tire designs to evacuate water as easily and efficiently as possible.

While the results are spectacular, the rain will anyway contribute to increasing rolling resistance compared to rolling on dry land. However, it's worth mentioning that a lot depends on the type and design of the tire. If we are talking about tires with a tread oriented towards wet roads, the rolling resistance will not be much higher.

What Other Factors Affect Rolling Resistance?

1. Ground conditions

2. Load conditions.

Rolling on loose terrain will add some effort for the tires to move forward. The additional load will also increase the rolling resistance because the deeper the tire sinks into the terrain/road, the higher the effort to keep moving.

Improper tire pressure will inevitably influence the rolling resistance. Underinflated tires lose their shape and more effort is needed to propel more rubber on the road. It's essential to keep tire pressure below the recommended levels.

Does Weight Affect Rolling Resistance?

Yes, it does. The more weight you put on your vehicle, the more effort it will take to run on the road. Specialists recommend avoiding overloading the vehicle with unnecessary stuff that adds extra pounds. Also, drivers must take into account the load capacity of their tires.

What is the Rolling Resistance at Zero Speed?

Zero speed means zero rolling resistance. The rolling resistance force is applied while in motion exclusively. Tires do not generate any force when they are in a static condition. The force starts to manifest in a dynamic state when the speed, road surface, air resistance, and vehicle load influence the way the tire rolls on the road.

How Do I Know if My Tire is Low Rolling Resistance?

A regular tire is slightly different from an LRR (low rolling resistance tire). The latter has shallower tread blocks and thinner sidewalls. In addition, manufacturers use special rubber formulas in LRR tires. All these features work together to reduce the tire rolling effort on the road, which optimizes fuel consumption.

Which Tires Are Recommended For Low Rolling Resistance?

Here you have some great models for when low rolling resistance is a priority for you. The following models are among the top options according to specialists' ratings and customer reviews.

Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus

Solid dry performance
Highly refined driving
Pretty reliable for light winter conditions
impressive stability and control in heavy wet conditions

Not optimal for severe snow and ice
Responsiveness of the handling is slightly inferior to the competition

Michelin Energy Saver A/S

Sharp, short, and agile braking
Generous wet and dry traction
Superb fuel economy
Generous treadwear warranty

Not enough for snow conditions
Pretty spicy price

Hankook Kinergy 4S2 H750

Impressive all-season versatility
Gorgeous 60,000-mile warranty
Reliable and confident traction
Dependable feedback and handling
Pretty quiet compared to the in-class rivals

Limited to passenger vehicles
Not enough for harsh snow and icy surfaces
A bit stiffer compared to in-class rivals

Continental PureContact LS

Impressively silent ride
Highly precise in handling and steering
Generous 70,000-mile warranty

Not too resistant to stress, so it might wear faster than expected if used frequently on harsh roads

Why trust Us?

For more than 5 years, the Neotires team has been dedicated to the tire industry and culture. For us, tires are much more than just a piece of rubber rolling on the road. Tires are synonymous with performance, safety, impressive road adventures, high technology, and constant advancement if you know how to choose them correctly.

This is our goal: to inform readers and customers that tires are a whole science that greatly influences the way we move from point A to point B. With the right tires, you can reach the top of the mountains. With the right tires, you can go over the most difficult muddy, and rocky surfaces. And notably, with the right tires, you can ensure safe driving regardless of the road or weather conditions.

In this sense, the NeoTires team is fully dedicated to reviewing, testing, validating, and ultimately selling the most optimal tires for any needs. Apart from this, we tend to self-educate and educate drivers about tires so that they feel safe and secure behind the wheel.

To achieve these goals, we gathered a team of enthusiasts, technical specialists, experts, and content professionals. All together we dedicate ourselves to offering the highest services of the best products validated by the industry. Everything we offer, from tires to blog posts, is approved and backed up by experts with vast experience in the field. So, feel free to try us, as we have no plans to let you down, whatever your need may be.

Brian Darr is a passion-driven enthusiast who has become an expert in the tire industry. His passion for rubber started with his first driving experience. He firmly believes that the performance and safety of any vehicle are due, first of all, to the quality of the tires mounted on it.
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