A guide to fuel-efficient tyres

Fuel prices in Australia fluctuate wildly, to say the least. One week you’re paying just over a dollar per litre, the next you’re coughing up $1.40 and wondering how much those oil barons are laughing.

You’ve probably heard all the fuel-saving tips before – drive like a granny, shift gears before 2500 RPM, and so on. You may be doing those things, and for negligible savings. What you could be forgetting, however, is the four bits of rubber separating your car from the road. That’s a mistake, because ‘eco’ and ‘fuel-efficient’ tyres are definitely worth a look the next time you’re at the tyre shop.

What are fuel-efficient tyres?

Fuel-efficient tyres are basically another name for tyres with a low rolling resistance. Fuel savers are made of a relatively hard compound, which sticks less to the road, making it easier for the car to roll along. The compromise with this is decreased braking ability and poorer cornering and handling abilities.

Fuel-saving tyres can be compromised when it comes to wet weather capability. You’ll have to assess whether the potential safety risks are worth the fuel savings. In day to day city driving, fuel-saving tyres can be a viable option.

Many tyre manufacturers offer tyres with fuel saving and ‘eco’ properties these days. It’s tempting to just go out and buy the first ones you see, but it pays in the long run to know what goes into a fuel saving tyre and what you can expect from them.

Why do people buy fuel savers?

People who buy fuel-efficient tyres often don’t know they’re buying fuel savers! You’re probably thinking that sounds silly, but basically, tyre manufacturers can virtually list any cheap, low rolling resistance tyre as a fuel saver. People often buy the cheapest car tyres they can get without considering anything other than the price. Other crucial factors to consider include handling characteristics, safety and ride comfort, and these can all be compromised when buying the cheapest fuel-saving tyres.

Our recommendation when choosing a fuel-saving tyre is to find an example that is more of an all-rounder, rather than a cheap, hard-compounded strict fuel saver. One such example of an all-rounder is the Michelin Energy XM2, which from JaxTyres starts at $99 per tyre. A tyre like this offers a decent balance between fuel-savings and performance.

Compare car tyre brands

How much do fuel-efficient tyres cost?

Luckily for you, fuel-saving tyres do not come with eye-watering costs that would negate the fuel savings in the first place. Fuel savers are a lot simpler than performance tyres to make, as they are a harder compound and require less technology, so they can be had for under $400 a set. However, determining what is good quality in this price bracket is no easy task. It’s difficult to set apart the cheap, mass-produced rubbish from the quality fuel savers. Overall, we recommend sticking to the major brands to ensure a quality tyre.

Are energy-saving tyres worth the money?

Determining value is a very personal and subjective thing. With this is mind, the attractive price tags attached to fuel-saving tyres can be a tempting offer. However, you have to determine if the compromises you make when buying them is worth it. In a lot of cases, you are compromising grip and handling ability as well as ride comfort for the sake of saving a few dollars. In this instance, we recommend spending a little more on a reputable brand model that is more of an ‘all-rounder’. Let’s look at the pros and cons of buying fuel-efficient tyres.

Pros Cons
Fuel savings of up to 10% Low rolling resistance means handling and braking compromised
Cheap entry price, tyres can be had for a bargain Fuel savings negated when a better tyre is purchased – a false economy
Lots of choice in lots of sizes Poor wet handling and safety
Better tyre durability in most cases Relatively poor ride comfort and quality

Depending on how much more you spend, you might as well just get a regular set of tyres, forget about the fuel savings and call it even with your wallet. Fuel-saving tyres can often prove to be a false economy. Overall, the compromises are something you will have to determine and assess on your terms.

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