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Tires can help save gas

Consumer Reports News: July 19, 2008 08:08 AM

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Don't overlook your tires when it comes to saving fuel. Underinflated tires, for instance, require more energy to roll along, which eats up more gasoline. They also cause a tire to wear more quickly.

Use a tire gauge at least once a month to keep them inflated at the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure. That figure is typically found on a placard on the driver’s door jamb, but check your owner's manual for the location on your car and for the proper procedure. Don’t go by the maximum inflation pressure embossed on the tire's sidewall.

When buying replacement tires, look for a model with low rolling resistance—basically a measure of how easy it is for a tire to roll down the road. Consumer Reports measures and rates the rolling resistance of every tire we test, except for winter tires. Our tests show a 1- to 2-mpg difference in rolling resistance between the best and worst replacement tires. (Watch the video on how we test tires.)

Don't let rolling resistance be your only criterion for choosing a tire, however. On some tires, lower rolling resistance can compromise all-weather grip and braking or cornering capabilities. We recommend you select the model that provides the best overall performance for your needs, and then consider rolling resistance as a tie-breaker.

Choosing the right tires and maintaining them at the proper pressure can save you about $100 a year at today's gas prices.

See our Ratings of car, truck, and winter tires and find the best one for your vehicle. Plus, see how we test tires.

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