Range-Increasing Low-Rolling Resistance Tires Falling Out of Favor with Drivers

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 15

Nissan LEAF Tires Put to the Test on Skidpad

Nissan LEAF Tires Put to the Test on Skidpad by Car and Driver…Yes, the LEAF Can Pull 1.0 G, But Not With Its Stock Low-Rolling Resistance Tires

Low-rolling resistance tires are fitted as standard equipment to increase “fuel” economy on most plug-in vehicles, but do they actually detract from the overall driving experience?

Stock Nissan LEAF Tire: Low Rolling Resistance Bridgestone Ecopia EP422

Stock Nissan LEAF Tire: Low Rolling Resistance Bridgestone Ecopia EP422

That’s one of the tire-related questions JD Powers set out to answer in latest survey that tracked social media activity related to tires.

The survey covered all types of tires, but of interest to us is the low-rolling resistance variety found on most all “fuel efficient vehicles.  Automakers often opt to fit vehicle with these tires in an effort to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards or to simply boost range and MPGe rating, if ever so slightly.  It’s believed that low-rolling resistance tires increase “fuel” economy by 3 to 5 percent, which may sound minute, but today every percentage points matters.

As JD Power discovered, low-rolling resistance tires are “falling short of customer expectations in terms of satisfaction.”  The survey further suggests that some potential customers are put off by low-rolling resistance tires because they believe them to compromise traction and safety in exchange for only a slight improvement in gas mileage.  Several test have confirmed this to be true by proving that most low-rolling resistance tires have long stopping distances at high speeds and lack grip in the corners, both of which could ultimately lead to accident that the same vehicle equipped with a more capable tire might of avoided.

Additionally, JD Powers says that “While consumers ultimately conclude that low-rolling resistance tires may improve fuel efficiency, they are confused and concerned regarding the associated sacrifices.”

We’ll now turn this discussion over to you, our readers.  If you own a vehicle equipped with low-rolling resistance tires, or have ever been in a situation where you thought the capabilities of your tires determined the outcome, or would just enjoy discussing the rubber that meets the road, then please share your thoughts in Comments below.

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15 responses to "Range-Increasing Low-Rolling Resistance Tires Falling Out of Favor with Drivers"

  1. David Murray says:

    I’ve been happy with the tires on my Leaf and the Prius I used to own. At least in regards to ride. I’m not happy with the premature wear on my factory Leaf tires, though. 20,000 miles and they are already worn out.

  2. kdawg says:

    I haven’t noticed a difference in my Volt vs. other cars I’ve owned. I’m not sure, when I get new tires, if I will get LRR ones, or just some good all weather ones. Depends on price, and how many more EV miles I’d get.

  3. Brian says:

    The stock tires on the Leaf are hands-down the worst tires I’ve ever driven on. My other car is a Honda Insight – also with LRR tires – and it performs far better. I can’t say that it’s because the Leaf’s tires are LRR, they’re just crumby tires. When they wear out, I will probably get a set of higher performance tires. I don’t really need the extra 5% of range, I’d rather have a more enjoyable / safer ride.

  4. John Hollenberg says:

    Leafs tires have been fine for me so far (17,000 miles), but I am concerned about the wear. I am happy to have increased efficiency. When I need new tires I will probably look for better quality LRR tires.

    PS “might of” in the article should be “might have”:

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Might_have_been_or_Might_of_been

  5. Herm says:

    In gasoline powered cars LRR tires will completely pay for themselves if they last a decent amount of miles, but not if they wear out at 20k miles.

    1. Brian says:

      My Insight’s original LRR tires still have life in them after 55,000 miles. Again, I don’t think the problem is with LRR tires so much as the specific tires used on the Leaf.

  6. BlindGuy says:

    Does anyone know if LRR tires are more quiet, =, or louder than all-season regular tires? In other words; when it’s time to change tires on our Volt, what kind of tires should I consider if I want less road noise?

    1. Bill Howland says:

      My original rear tires on my Tesla roadster became bald at 4000 miles, and I continued driving them until down to the bands at 6000 miles.

      I replaced them with increased load carrying capacity LRR tires. My range went up to over the “Ideal” range, showing the initial tires, identical to the Lotus Elise Spec, were quite overloaded.

      Handling is somewhat poor, but I’ll take the increased mileage any day.

  7. Dave K. says:

    In a recent C.R. tire test, Michelin Energy Saver (Lowest RR tire on the market) rated very high in almost every catagory, almost duplicating the performance of the top rated tire(Another Michelin) except in life expectancy which was still pretty good. The stock tire on the Leaf didn’t fare so well, rating near the bottom, you get what you pay for. My personal opinion is LRR is more valuable than long life in an ICE car, in an EV it becomes less clear cut as the fuel cost is so low, perhaps if you really need every last mile of range.

    1. Jeff says:

      Ditto. There are good LRR tires and bad LRR tires, just like regular tires. Case in point:

      In the Consumer Reports review of H-speed tires, the highest scoring AND lowest scoring tires BOTH scored as “excellent” for rolling resistance.

      The “worst” tire… the Nissan Leaf’s Bridgestone Ecopia EP422. What a coincidence. The best tire was the Michelin Primacy MXV4. And the 2nd best tire was a Continental PureContact that had a “very good” rolling resistance rating.

  8. MrEnergyCzar says:

    I’ll probably replace my Volt tires this fall with performance all season ones…. the corning on the stock Volt tires is great but that might be because the low center of gravity in the car from the battery…

    MrEnergyCzar

  9. GSP says:

    The Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max LLR tires on the Volt have GREAT grip and performance wet and dry. I run mine at 45 psi.

    I would not consider replacing them with a higher rolling resistance tire, or one with less grip.

    GSP

  10. Lloyd says:

    The factory leaf tire is terrible and I want a good LRR tire for my next set. At 24K on my car I will not keep a set of tire I have to replace every year. I will buy a quality tire and still stay with the LRR standard for my car. The reason for the car is to save money and not waste it buying tires that do not perform.

  11. CLG says:

    Nissan Leaf ecopia tires will wear out at 20,000 miles or less. Mine are almost gone at 16,000 miles. This sure adds cost per mile of driving.

  12. MCG says:

    I wish I would have read these comments earlier. I am one of those ignorant ones that does not have a good understanding of the benefits of LRR tires vs. the potential sacrifices of having them. Unlike the other comments, however, I really have no complaints on the stock Bridgestone Ecopias, but then again, I have nothing with which to compare them. Only recently had my tires become worn and I noticed more of a cornering issue, but I’ve got a little over 35,700 miles on the car. I literally had my Leaf in the shop today to get new tires, but I just replaced them with the same brand. I should have done my research earlier just to see the other options out there. If I really knew how much “fuel” I was saving versus not having LRR tires, I could probably make a more informed decision on whether or not it’s worth it. I now tend to agree with the others that the low cost of running EVs probably warrants a look at non LRR tires that offer more traction and durability. Oh well, maybe next time for me 🙁