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Rolling Resistance and Impact on Car Performance

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It’s no secret that having good tires on your vehicle will lead to a far better driving experience and better overall performance. Not only does handling improve vastly but fuel efficiency will also be better when a vehicle has fresh, new tires as opposed to worn out ones that have little to no tread and grip left. One key aspect that’s often overlooked about tires though is the rolling resistance that they can have and what kinds of effects that can have on your vehicle.

Car Tire

What is rolling resistance?

Rolling resistance is the amount of force that resists motion of a tire on a surface. While a tire is circular in shape, when inflated to the proper PSI, it loses its completely round shape. Rolling resistance specifically refers to this part of the tire that is making contact with the ground as a vehicle moves, as the rolling resistance is what your vehicle has to overcome in order to move in the first place. There are numerous factors that affect rolling resistance, such as road construction, tire design and even the types of rubber used in the tire.

Impact of greater rolling resistance

Years of research have been spent determining what factors lead to greater rolling resistance and how various conditions and tires will ultimately affect your vehicle and how it handles. Since the rolling resistance is what your car works against to achieve and stay in motion, the greater the rolling resistance, the more energy your car is going to spend trying to get up to speed. This fluctuation can have a great impact on your vehicle’s performance, on everything from fuel economy to handling. Reducing rolling resistance is a great way to help maximize your car’s performance as well as get a longer life out of your car and more specifically out of the tires.

Ways to reduce rolling resistance

Here are a just a few ways to reduce the rolling resistance that your vehicle faces to help improve overall auto performance.

  • Properly Inflated Tires– There are dozens of reasons why it’s important to have properly inflated tires but one of the most often overlooked is the effect that they have on rolling resistance. When a tire is properly inflated, it becomes rounder and closer to a perfect circle; it will also become stiffer and maintain shape better. However, if a tire is overinflated, that can negatively affect the handling of your car, making it essential to have a properly inflated tire and checking tire pressures monthly or before a long drive.
  • Follow the Speed Limits– It’s been widely noted that between the speeds of 5-55MPH, that rolling resistance only increases by around 1 lb., but the faster a vehicle goes, the more tires will contribute to rolling resistance.
  • Check Your Tread– As a tire wears over time the rolling resistance will decrease. As Flat Tire the tires lose tread and grip, it rolls more smoothly over a surface. However, a balding tire with less grip is going to sacrifice some of the vehicle’s handling and performance, making driving with worn out tires an unsafe way to minimize rolling resistance.
  • Lighten the Load– This seems like a no brainer but when a car has a heavier load, the rolling resistance is directly affected and will increase. When the rolling resistance is increased the vehicle will use more fuel and engine power to pick up speed, which in the moment is almost unnoticeable but over time of constant and continued overuse, your vehicle can experience a myriad of issues. To help combat this natural wear and tear, lightening the load your vehicle is carrying will help keep your vehicle lighter.

Rolling resistance is an inevitable occurrence that every vehicle will face, what drivers can do is work to reduce the effects it has on their vehicle as much as possible. Tire companies are constantly working on making lighter tires that hold their shape better when driving on the roads but there’re still sacrifices that are being made when it comes to durability with those. So for drivers looking to avoid purchasing tires multiple times a year, keeping their tires properly inflated along with watching for tread wear and other simple steps is an easy way to extend the life of your vehicle while also making sure its’ performance doesn’t miss a beat.