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What is tyre rolling resistance?

By John SwiftTyre Advice11th October 2019

Car tyre rolling resistance is a term that has become increasingly commonplace since the early 2010s, when EU tyre labelling regulations were introduced.

Since then, new car tyres are labelled with several items of information, including:

  • A fuel efficiency rating
  • Wet weather performance rating
  • External noise rating and value in dB

Tyre rolling resistance has an impact on all these things. And the best low rolling resistance tyres can pay for themselves in improved fuel efficiency and running cost savings over time.

Below we will look in more detail at what rolling resistance is, why it matters when you buy new car tyres, and some of the best rolling resistance tyres on the market.

What is rolling resistance?

Tyres are, for the most part, the only points of contact between your vehicle and the road. To provide good steering and safety, they must be able to grip the road surface well.

At the same time though, rolling resistance is a measure of how much the tyre resists the forward momentum of your car.

There are many causes of this, including:

  • Friction between the tyre and the road surface
  • Friction in the moving parts of your vehicle
  • Energy lost as the tyre rubber changes shape
  • Deformation of the ground surface (e.g. driving on soil or mud)
  • Greater friction on rough/dirty road surfaces

In essence, the more rolling resistance your tyres produce, the more energy you will need to maintain a steady speed. This leads to lower fuel efficiency, higher running costs and increased CO2 emissions on combustion engine vehicles.

The design of the tyre itself can help to tackle this. Low rolling resistance tyres are often called energy efficient tyres, fuel efficient tyres or low emission tyres.

What are the best low rolling resistance tyres?

Our fuel efficient tyres page can help you to find the best rolling resistance car tyres for your vehicle, with an easy search function to filter down to the best rolling resistance tyres.

We stock low rolling resistance tyres from major brands including:

A tyre’s fuel efficiency rating depends on its characteristics, such as the rim size.

You can find the fuel efficiency rating, wet weather performance rating and external noise level for each of our tyres listed on our website. This makes it easier for you to choose the best low rolling resistance tyre for your vehicle.

What are the worst low rolling resistance tyres?

Because of how they are designed to work when damaged, run flat tyres are often some of the worst rated for fuel efficiency, although some brands such as Bridgestone run flat tyres can still score fairly well.

For heavier vehicles, extra load tyres can offer good performance on rolling resistance and fuel efficiency, without significant extra external noise.

Continental Sport Contact 5 tyres are a good option here, with a good variety of run flats and extra load tyres for different rim sizes.

Get low rolling resistance tyres fitted at home

Tyres On The Drive offer a mobile tyre fitting service that means, in most cases, we can come to your home and replace your tyres in the safety of your driveway.

We can also accept callouts to other safe locations, for example the car park at your workplace. As long as our engineers have good access to your vehicle and will not be placed in any danger.

If you’re getting low resistance tyres fitted, it’s sensible to have all four tyres changed at once, so that you get the same high level of performance across your whole vehicle.

We will also fully rebalance your car to make sure your tyres are being used equally for the very best performance on fuel efficiency, wet weather braking and low noise running.

Final top tips for low resistance tyres

Finally, a few last recommendations to get the best out of your low rolling resistance car tyres:

  • Rotate your tyres periodically (e.g. swap the front and rear tyres) so they wear down evenly over time.
  • Consider investing in a matching spare tyre and/or run flat tyre in case of emergencies.
  • Even if you don’t specifically want low rolling resistance, check the tyre labelling information for a handy guide to fuel efficiency and braking performance in the wet.

Low rolling resistance tyres offer not just one benefit, but a whole collection. They can save you money, help reduce your CO2 emissions and even make your car quieter on the roads – so they’re well worth considering if you are looking to get your tyres changed soon.

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