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Does Bigger Tires Affect Gas Mileage

Does Bigger Tires Affect Gas Mileage

After purchasing a new vehicle, we take several road trips to test its capability. However, after achieving certain mileage, you need to change your car tires because they, too, come to the end of life.

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When it comes to that point, car owners have one common question; does bigger tires affect gas mileage?

Besides the mileage, you would like to change car tires for various reasons. Here are some of the reasons;

  • Speed

There is a perception that bigger tires increase the car speed due to larger wheel circumference.

  • Performance

Many vehicle owners believe bigger tires will enhance engine performance, especially commercial vehicles.

  • Traction

Other drivers believe larger tires increase traction, especially on muscle cars. Further, while driving on rough roads.

  • Ground clearance

Especially for commercial vehicles, its true larger tires will create a good ground clearance. If you regularly drive on the rough road, it can save your car underbody from much damage.

  • Aesthetics

Most people opt to fix classy rims and tires on their cars for a better look. However, it depends on the car model and the engine power.

If you choose the above reasons to change your car tire size, it’s important to remember that all choices have benefits and drawbacks. But for heaven’s sake, except for the ground clearance, all other factors might not be true.

Read: Changing tire size on same rim

black and silver car wheel

Does Bigger Tires Affect Gas Mileage?

Many people ask why does gas drop with new tires? I will give you an honest answer.

Vehicle manufacturers carry out various tests before determining the car tire size. Every car is fitted with peak fuel-efficient tires.

To clarify, tire sizes are designed with the vehicle engine, transmission, and axles.

As that’s the case, if your gas drops after changing the tires, know that you fixed the wrong tires. So, the answer to whether bigger tires affect gas mileage is yes, they do.

The best wheels for fuel economy are the manufacturer’s recommended type and size. It’s simple and clear.

How Bigger Tires Affect Gas Mileage

Below, this article will share six reasons bigger tire size affects gas mileage. Take a look;

  • Rolling friction
  • Aerodynamics
  • Weight
  • Tread
  • Contact surface
  • Gravitational force against height

Rolling Friction

The main reason that you’ll get poor gas mileage after fixing your car with bigger size tires is rolling friction or rolling resistance, in other terms. It’s the force exerted to the tire versus the resisting motion when in contact with the road surface.

To understand the mechanism, you need a lot of maths. However, it’s important to note that the bigger the tire, the more weight and pressure it exerts on the road surface.

The engine requires more energy to keep the car in motion when the rolling friction is high. As a result, more fuel is burned.

Read: Can you push a nail through a tire?

piles of car tires
  • Aerodynamics

Aerodynamics is the interaction between the car and the wind moving through it. Normally, when the vehicle moves forward, it faces resistance from the wind blowing against it. Manufacturers have modern car body styles that resist much wind force to enhance performance.

In the tire’s case, bigger tires have a wider surface that creates more resistance when it encounters the wind while in motion. The increased resistance causes the engine to work more, burning more fuel.

  • Weight

Bigger tires have more weight compared to smaller tires. Once they come into contact with the surface, they will require more power to rotate.  Normally, the manufacturer designs car bodyweight with tires included. Further, the weight corresponds to the engine power.

The worst happens if you fix heavier tires. The engine will take longer to accelerate and work more to keep the vehicle in motion. As a result, you’ll experience poor gas mileage.

  • Contact Surface

Bigger tires create a wider contact surface. The contact surface is the part of the rubber that meets the ground. When the contact surface increases, the gravitational force goes high. Due to increased gravitational force, the engine works harder to overcome resistance. And experiencing poor gas mileage is obvious.

  • Tread

Usually, bigger tires are designed to handle more weight under tough conditions. As such, they are manufactured with bigger treads for traction.

On the other hand, treads offer resistance as they create traction. And when they meet a low-power engine, it works harder.

  • Gravitational Force Against Height

If you intend to fix larger car tire sizes for ground clearance, be prepared to face more resistance due to gravitational force. Gravitational resistance increases with height.

Once the vehicle faces high resistance, the tires will wear out due to sliding. Secondly, the sliding will cause more engine revolutions and less distance coverage. This, unfortunately, will cost you more fuel.

Read: Truck bed sand bag holder

bunch of tires

FAQs on Tire Sizes

What Size Tire is Best for Gas Mileage?

Different cars are designed with varying sizes of tires for better mileage. Note manufacturers carry out all the necessary tests to develop tire size that best suits the engine power, transmission, and axles. So, to choose the best tire size for better gas mileage, refer to the user manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.

What is the Advantage of Larger Wheels?

Larger tires have extended treads. And the more the treads, the more the grip on the road. Secondly, a wider tire distributes the load force within its contact surface, reducing the load capacity.

Once the vehicle has a decreased load capacity and better grip, it offers easy handling. As such, you may fix your car with larger tires for track days if you have a powerful engine. However, be assured of higher gas mileage.

Does Bad Alignment Affect Gas Mileage?

Misaligned wheels drag instead of rolling freely. Secondly, they rub against the vehicle suspension or body, creating even more resistance. You may face a 10% decrease in your gas mileage, as that’s the case.

How Much Difference in Tire Size is Acceptable?

When changing the tires, it’s advisable to purchase tires raging around 3% increase or decrease from the original tire diameter. Any more than 3% will pose many risks like brake failure, tire rubbing against the body, poor performance, and poor handling.

If you intend to change your tire size, consider safety as the leading factor. Secondly, keep within the manufacturer’s recommendation because bigger tires affect gas mileage. 

Read: VW windshield washer hose repair kit

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