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

11 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. 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

  10. 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.

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