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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29 Responses to Do larger tires get better gas mileage?

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

  2. Pingback: Cool Gifts for Car Lovers | Performance Plus Tire

  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.

  18. I usually will not comment on sites like this but in this case I have to.
    1, I only change tire size (tall tire) when I change rims and look for the wheel and tire package to weigh very close to original weight, or less.
    2, For mileage I always stay with the same width with a low rolling resistance tire
    3, It is not just about weight, width and and having a taller tire. It will depend on the rpm you vehicle gets the best mileage at on the highway. In my f350 7.3 with 3:73 gears running over 2000 rpm really starts to burn fuel. Running at 65 miles/hr is 1950 rpm. In this case running a wheel and tire package that weigh close to the same when I went from 31 in. tall to 35 in. tall I was now doing 73 miles/hr at the same rpm (ACTUAL SPEED CHECKED BY GPS). On the highway I was getting 19.8 MPG to 20.4 MPG at 65 miles/hr I now get 21.2 to 22 MPG at 73 mile/hr.
    In closing this makes no money sense, unless you need new tires, want new rims and do a heck of a lot of highway driving.

  19. I agree with what Riaz babar has mentioned here. Yes if the engine is powerful enough to pull bigger wheel ( 15 inch instead of 14 inch wheel) sure , there will be better fuel economy. Say for example, a 14″ wheeled engine runs at 2500 rpm, at this point your vehicle speed is 60 miles per hour, if the engine is good enough to pull a 15′ wheel, at the same rpm level you can see your speedo show you more mileage.

  20. About to go from 255/70R18 stock tires to 275/70R18 about 1 inch taller and less tah an inche wider. RPM will go according to spects from 629.07 to 608.18 meaning less RMPs on the larger tires then less RPMs equals less fuel consumpion for better mileage, do this make sense?

  21. s_heinz00@yahoo.com

    Having a taller tire will increase the gear ratio and increase fuel mileage at higher speeds. I’m a NHRA fanatic. If you watch a Top Fuel Dragster when they do their burn outs and when they leave the starting line you will see the Drag Slick become more narrow and get taller. The initial contact patch of the tire is wider to give them the hole shot to get the dragster moving. When the car launches the tire becomes more narrow and taller decreasing the drag of the tire in increasing the gear ratio to accommodate the insanely low gear ratios they use to move those 10,000 horsepower monsters down the track at 320 miles per hour in a little over 3 seconds. Conclusion is that a taller tire will increase efficiency at higher speeds.

  22. I have a F350 DRW Diesel. The stock wheels are 16’ I want to go with a 22.5. The truck is used to pull a 39’ fifth wheel with 19.5 wheels. Do you think I should go with a 22.5 or 19.5 on my truck?

  23. Just bought a 2009 RWD 4Runner SR5. Great deal, yet since dealer filled up tank, I am showing 120 miles. Concerned about a 23 gal. tank only getting 120 miles when 1/2 full. Will a tune-up and oil change make that much difference.

  24. Ok, so I have a 98 GMC Savana 2500 5.7L. For some reason GM geared these (and I’m guessing the Chevy Express) mid to late 90’s vehicles to run on 225/75R16 Load Range E tires. As this seams to be more of a passenger car tire size, they are costly and not readily available in a load range E.
    I have found a tire size calculator that tells the speedo difference between the factory size and the actual speed, in this case 65 on the guage is actually 67.62 with the 245/75R16 tires that are on it now.
    What I’m looking for is a formula that will allow me to take the trip odometer reading say; 243.8 miles at fill up and convert it to actual miles for mpg calculation.

  25. All this depends a lot on the driver and extra power under the hood..larger tires slower acceleration take it easy on the gas pedal and probably see a little better economy ride the gas pedal and it will probably be worse…that common horse sense applies here.. technically you should use tires that are rated for your vehicles geared ratios for it to function correcti

  26. i definitely get better mpg on my 2002 Ford F-150 ever since I got one size larger tires. larger tires take longer to rotate and are able to support more weight than smaller tires, up to a certain point. which means the engine won’t have to work as hard and the tires last longer too. getting a lift on a truck will do more harm than good, but simply putting a size or two bigger simply means bigger tires that are better equipped to support the weight of a large truck

  27. Taller wheels carry more centrifugal force. Harder to get to speed, easier to stay there. Ask any cyclist that’s switched from a 26″ to a 29″.
    Maybe it’s different for autos. Not saying this is the answer, just that it sure makes a difference on an 80 mile bike ride.

  28. Hey. I thought I’d add my 2 pence to this old thread. I was running 275 45 21’s on my Range Rover Sport L494 and I have just fitted a new set of 22inch lightweight wheels with 285 35 22 tyres. I’ve noticed a difference in the acceleration, definitely moves faster and the Mpg also seems better. Happy days!!

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