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Tyre Rolling Resistance Explained

  • Tyres-Tips/Guides

Tyres are extremely dynamic and interactive components of your car. While driving, they deform and flex according to the surface of the road. This tread interaction of the tyre with the road surface is crucial to your car’s grip on the road – but all this flexing and deforming requires substantial amounts of energy.

Also known as rolling friction or rolling drag, rolling resistance is the energy required to  keep your vehicle’s tyres moving at a consistent speed. Why does it matter? When buying new tyres, it’s helpful to know because this can affect your car’s fuel efficiency.

Tyre rolling resistance diagram

What Affects Rolling Resistance?

When you depress your car’s accelerator you transfer energy through various systems in your car. This energy builds up enough momentum to set the tyres in motion and to move the vehicle from its stationary position.

However, there are physical forces that make the vehicle resistant to moving – for example, the weight of the car, gradient, air resistance, and road surface friction, which influences the tyres’ rolling resistance. As a tyre rolls through its footprint, it must overcome energy loss which must be made up by the engine using more fuel. This is why rolling resistance affects your car’s performance, C02 emissions, and your pocket.

Key factors that influences rolling resistance:

  1. Aerodynamics – the resistance of the surrounding air
  2. Weight – a heavier vehicle negatively impacts a tyres rolling resistance
  3. Pressure – an under-inflated tyres increases contact with the road
  4. Tread – construction and shape

Low Rolling Resistance Tyres

The benefits of low rolling resistance are clear:

  1. Lowers fuel consumption
  2. Lowers operating fluid consumption
  3. Reduces CO2 emissions
  4. Reduces vehicle running costs

It’s impossible to avoid rolling resistance, but it can be minimised. For one, tyre manufacturers like Bridgestone employ specific technologies to create low rolling resistance tyres like the Ecopia range.

Low rolling resistance tyres are designed to offer car owners a more eco-friendly tyre without compromising on performance. This is achieved with various methods that helps counteract rolling resistance such as:

  1. Tread design – tread blocks are more interconnected rather than individual tread blocks
  2. Tyre tread compound – modern technologies and advanced rubber compounds make for better energy-efficiency
  3. Sidewall – stiffened sidewall reduces deformation which reduces energy needs
  4. Contact patch – decreased surface area of the tyre in contact with the road
  5. Tyre weight – reducing weight in the areas that influence vehicle handling dynamics and efficiency can have more impact than reducing weight in other areas.

In Summary

Now that you understand a little more about rolling resistance and the benefits of low rolling resistance tyres, you might want to consider them when you next need to purchase new tyres. Whichever type of tyre you have, remember to check them regularly and ensure they are inflated correctly, because an under-inflated tyre can negatively impact your car’s rolling resistance.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Supa Quick.


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