Where Rubber Meets the Road: Understanding Rolling Resistance

The cost of fuel and environmental restrictions require you to consider every dime you spend on your commercial fleet. Tire rolling resistance leads to poor vehicle performance and can take a chunk out of your profits.

What is Tire Rolling Resistance?

It’s the energy your vehicle needs to get your tires in motion. There are several factors holding your truck in place, including the vehicle’s weight and mass, wind resistance and inertia. Rolling resistance is the amount of force your truck must exert to overcome those factors.

Resistance is largely influenced by hysteresis, the energy lost through your tires as they rotate. Tire tread deforms at the point where it meets the road and then returns to its original shape as it rolls off the road. The more a tire deforms, the greater the resistance.

Other causes of rolling resistance include:

  • Tire wear and tear
  • Friction between the tire and road
  • Friction between the tire and surrounding air
  • Friction between the tire and wheel hubs and bearings
  • Road conditions
  • Low tire inflation

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How Does Resistance Affect Fuel Economy?

The more energy your vehicle exerts to overcome rolling friction, the lower your fuel efficiency. Rolling resistance consumes up to 7% of your truck’s energy, which can add up in fuel costs over time. Reducing tire rolling drag by 10% improves fuel economy by 1-2%.

Factors that Determine Tire Rolling Friction

Tread size and shape: The bigger and deeper the tread design, the greater resistance you’ll face. The footprint of commercial tires determines how much surface area encounters the road. If your tires have a large contact point, they’ll create more friction and heat, which expend more of your vehicle’s energy.

Tire compound: Low resistance tires are made of special rubber compounds designed to boost fuel efficiency. The treads stay cooler during rotation, so they don’t lose as much energy as traditional tires. That requires less force from your vehicle and lowers fuel consumption.

Sidewalls: Stiffer sidewalls have less deformation and rolling resistance. More of the tire touches the road when a tire is underinflated or has soft sidewalls. Strong sidewalls require less energy to move and keep in motion.

Tire weight: That amount includes the tires, wheels, brakes and suspension. Reducing the weight number lowers the amount of resistance. Low rolling friction tires are lighter but sturdy enough to handle long hauls.

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Benefits of Low Resistance Tires

You can count on low rolling resistance tires to cut costs in the long run. They help you save at the pump, boost your fuel economy and are eco-friendly. Rolling friction contributes to up to 4% of the world’s carbon monoxide emissions, so using low rolling resistance tires decreases your fleet’s environmental impact. Bauer Built sells various brands of low resistance tires so you can manage your budget and expenses. Find a location or shop for commercial tires online.

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