Fuel economy can be a major factor for some tire consumers. If you're considering buying a tire that can assist in your vehicle's fuel economy, know that not all tires are made alike. Purchasing a tire that is different than the one you had when the vehicle was new may impact the fuel economy, for good or bad.
According to Bill VandeWater at Bridgestone Firestone North America, "consumers can see a 15 to 20 percent difference in their fuel economy depending on the tire they select." Some studies have shown that many consumers like high fuel economy, but not at the cost of mileage or performance, especially in wet conditions.
Though many consumers consider fuel economy a high priority, it is typically not the number one priority for the consumer. Therefore not all replacement tires are designed with fuel economy as high a priority. According to VandeWater, "If a consumer wants a good fuel economy tire, the best choice is usually the original equipment tire."
California and the federal government have passed laws to label tires by their fuel efficiency but, according to an L.A. Times article, implementing the standards has been difficult and most consumers don't know that tires can positively or negatively impact a vehicle's fuel economy [source: Bensinger].
Consumers should also not forget that fuel economy is also dependant on proper air pressure. Monitoring air pressure regularly, and with proper inflation pressures as dictated by the vehicle owner's manual, is the best route to ensure maximum fuel economy.
On the next page we'll discuss the differences between purchasing new and used tires.