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What Is Tire Rolling Resistance, and Why Is It Important?

By Tire Agent Staff

July 12, 2022


Fuel efficiency is always top of mind for drivers, but even more so during inflationary times. As you look for best ways to save gas and how to improve fuel efficiency, you might come across the term "rolling resistance."  

You're probably thinking, whoa, whoa, whoa, stop the clock – rolling what? We'll explain what rolling resistance is, if it can be avoided, and why you should care about it.

How Tire Rolling Resistance Impacts Fuel Efficiency

The energy your vehicle must transfer to your tires to keep moving across a surface at a constant speed is known as tire rolling resistance. To put it another way, it is the effort necessary to keep a tire moving.

A process called hysteresis is the primary cause of rolling resistance. In scientific terms, hysteresis is the energy lost as tires roll through their footprint. The vehicle's engine must work harder to compensate for the energy loss, wasting fuel in the process.

Can Tire Rolling Resistance Be Avoided?

Anytime a tire makes contact with the road, rolling resistance will occur. So, no, it can't be avoided. It can, however, be minimized. But how?

Since hysteresis is the root cause of tire rolling resistance, tires can be made with specially formulated tread materials that are more heat-resistant. This results in decreased tire deflection and energy loss.

Manufacturers call these low rolling resistance tires, and they are worth looking into. Especially if you want to save money on gas.

Pros and Cons of Low Rolling Resistance Tires

Let's begin with the pros, shall we? 

Advantages of low rolling resistant tires

Low rolling resistance tires help maximize fuel efficiency and can be significantly more fuel-efficient than standard tires.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, "a 10% reduction in rolling resistance would improve fuel economy approximately 3% for light- and heavy-duty vehicles."

You might be thinking that 3% doesn't sound like a lot for passenger cars, though. But think of the big picture. Let's say you spend $5,000 per year on gas. A 3% savings would add up to about $150 for the year. That's around $750 over the course of five years. Not too shabby over the life of the tires. 

Rolling resistance is a big deal, as you can imagine, for commercial trucks that log thousands of miles every week.

Now for the cons of rolling resistance tires

Disadvantages of low rolling resistant tires

Reducing tread depth is one method used by tire makers to lower rolling resistance. Unfortunately, this will decrease the tire wear life. So, you might need to buy tires sooner than with conventional models.

One more thing to think about is safety. Reduced tread depth means less rubber on the road. This can lessen grip, impacting stopping and starting, especially on wet surfaces. Keep rolling resistance tires fully inflated to get the best performance. This will help combat the less rubber issue. 

With all that said, today's tire manufacturers have created some amazing rubber compounds that offer excellent fuel efficiency, safety and treadwear. Check out Yokohama Avid Ascend GT, for an example. This all season tire has low rolling resistance, and a 740 treadwear rating, which is higher than the average of 504 across all brands (see our Guide to Tire Treadwear Ratings for an explainer on treadwear). 

Do Tires Have Roll Resistance Ratings? 

No, you won’t see roll resistance ratings on the side of a tire like you do for things like load index and speed rating. However, tire professionals know the ins and outs of every model and can help you find exactly what you're looking for. If saving money on fuel is something you're looking for, a tire professional can help.

As you search for tires on, you can use filters to select "fuel efficient," which will narrow your options to tire models that manufacturers have identified as fuel efficient. If you need help or have questions, you can always contact a Tire Agent expert by live chat, phone or email.

List of Low Rolling Resistance Tires

To find tires that fit your vehicle, use Tire Agent's tire-matching tool. Here are just a few makes and models of tires that are low-rolling resistance tires (photos from L to R):

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