Do larger tires get better gas mileage? The short answer is, no. Though, the real answer is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no answer. The truth is that in many instances larger tires will not  increase a vehicle’s fuel efficiency; however, there are many aspects of tires that can contribute a vehicle’s gas mileage apart from the tire’s size. One of the reasons that larger tires will not lead to an increase in a car’s gas mileage is because they are heavier than smaller tires – every extra pound will, in essence, decrease a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Larger tires will not increase a vehicle’s fuel economy because larger tires generally have a high rolling resistance, which refers to the amount of force required to move a tire from a resting position. And the wider the tire the higher the rolling resistance is and the harder the engine has to work to move the tire, thus decreasing the car’s fuel efficiency.

In reality, you really shouldn’t worry though about decreased fuel economy if you have or are planning to outfit your vehicle with larger tires. In most cases, the drop in fuel efficiency that someone might experience by outfitting their vehicle with larger tires is usually too small for the average person to notice.  In April 2010, Car and Driver conducted a thorough test on a new Volkswagen Golf 2.5 to see how much of an impact larger tires had on the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. The Volkswagen Golf 2.5, which has a factory tire size of 15 x 6.0 inches was tested with tires as large as  19 x8.5 inches in the Car and Driver test. With the standard 15 x 6.0 in tires the Volkswagen Golf 2.5 was rated with a fuel economy of 23.3 miles per gallon (MPG) in the Car and Driver test. When the Volkswagen was equipped with 19 x 8.5 inch tires the fuel economy dropped to only 21.1 MPG – that’s less than a 10% decrease in fuel economy.

Larger tires can in fact, increase a vehicle’s gas mileage if the vehicle is regularly traveling with consistent speeds over 60 miles per hour. So if you do a lot of highway driving then larger tires might be the way to go. If you want the best of both worlds – large tires and fuel economy– then take the time to carefully evaluate your tire choice. Tire weight is certainly a significant factor in determining fuel economy but everything down to the tire’s tread pattern can affect a car’s gas mileage. Large tires with a low rolling resistance will be more efficient than those with a high rolling resistance. And depending on your driving habits off-road tires may be more fuel efficient than all-season tires. So do larger tires get better gas mileage? Large tires won’t necessarily make a vehicle have poor fuel economy and a car with smaller tires will not always be more fuel efficient, in the end it all comes down to choosing the best tire for your vehicle, large or small.

Photo by: The United States EPA
Source: Ask, Car and Driver

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17 Responses to Do larger tires get better gas mileage?

  1. Pingback: What are the best pickup truck tires? | Performance Plus Tire

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  3. as far as a larger tires are getting better gas mileage I believe that is not true fact the larger the tire is a more horsepower takes to turn it. And when you have a Hemi motor in your truck it really doesn’t matter what size tire you’re going to get bad gas mileage.I should really say that because I chose power and torqueover gas mileage anywaysI guess what I’m really asking is what would be the best tire the best tread pattern for my truck to get the best handling and gas mileage

  4. Best mpg. For you would be to get a truck for what a truck is supposed to do-work. A hemi, is not a wrk truck. It is for ego minded shot rodders . You either get a truck to work or get a real muscle ride. Hemi truck is neither. It’s a advertising psyche from Fiat whoe owns Dodge. If you want a Dodge “Truck” then get one with a Cummings, then dear boy -you have a truck.

  5. Rolling resistance occurs at rest, slow speeds, and high speeds. Try pedaling a bike with 6 inch wheels faster than 30mph. Smaller wheels are good for stop and go city driving. Larger wheels are better for long trips when you drive at higher speeds for longer periods of time. It has to do with the comparative size of deviations of the road surface to the diameter of the wheels.

  6. You are right that larger tires don’t give you better gas mileage. Since they are slightly heavier than smaller tires, your vehicle will have to use a bit more energy to get moving, thus lowering the mileage. You may not notice it but it will add up over time. I’d suggest that you get the right sized tires for your car or truck that the manufacturer recommends.

  7. You make a great point about how depending on how you use your vehicle, larger offroad wheels and fuel efficiency might be be too much of a concern. If your rig needs to be able to tackle less than ideal road conditions, having a quality set of offroad wheels and rims will increase the functionality of your truck. There are many quality offroad wheel systems and products out there. Just make sure that you check your specs to find what it the best solution for you.

  8. Tire size is simply a part of the gear ratio. Small tires is like driving around in 1st. gear all the time. Overdrive is similar to large tires. They put overdrive there because they know what they are doing . When the engine starts to lug because of too large a tire or way too many overdrive options , thats when gas when gas mileage will go go down.

  9. Larger tires do effect your MPG, sometimes by as much as 2 MPG hwy and 5 MPG city. I believe that the study that you reference in this article was referring to wheel size but the same diameter of the tire.

  10. I had to travel 200 km daily for official duty. I coverd this distance in 90 minutes with 14′ tires.
    Now with 15′ tires i cover the same distance in 80 minutes with same speed in both the cases.
    Fule consumption was 13 liters with size 14′ and now 12 liters with size 15′. I am saving $105 p/annum

  11. Riaz babar, what you stated is literally impossible. You can not travel the same distance at the same speed with different times. If you go 70 MPH, then you can travel 70 miles in one hour. You either hit some congested traffic that slowed your average speed with the 14′ tires OR you inadvertently traveled faster with the 15′ tires because your speedometer was off. Since speedometers are supposed to measure the rate at which your axle turns, getting bigger tires allow you to cover more distance with less revolutions.. so your speedometer may have stated that you were going 70 MPH when you were really only going 65 MPH. In such an event, your fuel consumption could improve from driving slower. Your fuel consumption could also improve by having a more steady drive without congestion (in which you arrived in 80 minutes instead of 90 minutes). It is also very possible that the new tires have a harder tread and have less road friction which makes them more efficient.

    All things being equal, bigger tires are heavier and require more energy to move, making them less efficient. You cannot compare fuel savings based off of one trip.

  12. i changed from 275 55 17 to 285 35 22 it made the car run in higher gear longer as seems to take more force to turn them they as light wieght and about same as smaller ones .over 250 miles £10 pound more in fuel cost for looking good.

  13. Larger diameter tires do improve fuel economy IF you go narrower also. For instance, on my truck I had 265 75 16 and then switched to a 235 85 16, which also happened to be lighter because of the narrower width even though it has a taller aspect ratio, and the increased diameter effectively gave me a taller final gear ratio which improved fuel economy. If i kept the same width or went wider the weight of the tire would have increased and any potential gains by the gear ratio would have probably been a wash or the added weight would have decreased mileage. Just my two cents.

  14. Additionally, another benefit to larger diameter tires is that your hub bearings will last longer and generate less heat because they will be turning less revolutions per mile. But on the other hand, one downside is that your brake pedal will require more force to get the same rate of deceleration because of the added leverage of the outside of the tire’s contact patch is further from the center of rotation, thus generating more brake heat as the caliper has to squeeze harder on the rotor so depending on your braking habits, one might experience faster brake wear.

  15. Larger wheels do require more fuel to turn them but they also cover more area per revolution. It’s like comparing a short stride vs a long stride while walking. We use more fuel taking a long stride but we also cover more distance.

    I say the studies are faulty when the ecm is preconfigured for a specific wheel size. And changing the wheel size will lead to the computer not recording the kilometers/miles traveled correctly since it is preconfigured for the smaller size tire.

  16. I’ve a 2000 Toyota Camry Le with 15 inch rim and 65 series tires. I want to go to a 16 inch rim with a 60 series tire. A P205/60R16. There’s not much difference with the tires that I have now. I won’t go much bigger than that. I get good gas mileage with the rim and tires I have now. I just want a 16 inch rim.

  17. The best way to explain it is increasing the tire size is like changingthe gear ratio. A higher ratio means more distance covered like you explain but makes it harder for the engine to turn. But there’s a point where higher gears save on fuel and that’s typically above about 60 mph, since 5th gear is designed for basically 50 to 55 mph.

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