How Fuel-Efficient Are Your Tires?


I just got a screaming deal on a 1999 Land Cruiser. The only problem is that it could have illegal tires.

The truck isn’t a daily driver, but will handle all towing duties and be called upon for those rare instances when my family of six is all together and needs to go to the same location. It’s also in great shape, runs strong, has a comfortable interior, and came wearing mostly new Hankook DynaPro off-road tires. They are chunky, have a beefy tread, and can take the Land Cruiser anywhere I want to drive it.

Of course, that’ll mostly consist of highways and paved back roads, which might make the tires slight overkill for what I need.

Plus, they could become illegal.

An article at Car and Driver recently investigated the possibility that the U.S. government might ban some tires because they aren’t fuel efficient.

The FAST Act, signed into law by President Obama in December 2015, is a five-year transportation bill that, among many things, directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to set minimum standards for tire rolling resistance by the end of 2017. It will attempt to mirror tire regulations adopted by the European Union in 2012, which mandated thresholds for rolling resistance, wet traction, and even noise. This ignites a very reasonable suspicion. Will low-grip tires with “eco” labels on the sidewall—some of which are already fitted as original equipment on efficiency-minded mainstream cars today—come to ruin all cars, especially sports cars?

Tires play more of a role in fuel efficiency than most people might realize. A 2012 study said, “No less than one-third of a car’s fuel consumption is spent in overcoming friction, and this friction loss has a direct impact on both fuel consumption and emissions.”

Even a small reduction in resistance can make a significant difference in fuel economy and emissions, especially considering the sheer amount of tires on the road in this country. Banning fuel-thirsty tires might make sense when looking at it that way, but the idea is sure to anger plenty of folks who appreciate having a choice in what kind of tread they use on their wheels.

Should non fuel-efficient tires be banned in the United States?


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