Eco tyres are rubber that’s been designed to help cars get more miles out of whatever fuel they use. Read on to find out whether they work and if they’re a worthwhile investment for your car.
What is an eco tyre?
Eco or green tyres are specifically designed to help drivers save money on fuel. They do this by improving the car’s economy through the reduction of what’s known as rolling resistance. Loosely speaking rolling resistance is the friction of the tyre against the road surface. By cutting this, eco tyres result in the car needing less energy to drive it forwards.
How do eco tyres work?
Huge tyre companies such as Continental, Michelin, Pirelli, Goodyear and Bridgestone have invested billions of pounds in making eco-friendly tyres. As a result they’ve left hardly any stone unturned.
Eco tyres present tyre firms with a unique challenge. Unless you’re careful, reducing the tyre’s friction on the road, will also reduce how well it grips. That makes it less safe. And no tyre maker wants to create a product that has a negative impact on road safety.
How they design eco tyres
To design and build an eco tyre, manufacturers drill into the tiniest details. For a start, they use different combinations of ingredients in the tyre’s material. These are frequently man-made silicas instead of the more traditional rubber and carbon black. They’re specially formulated to prevent the tyre losing energy.
Then they look at the tread. Continental, for example, has discovered that by having a tread block that’s wider at the bottom (next to the tyre) than the top (next to the road) it can reduce friction against the road while preserving how the tyre handles and disperses water.
Lastly, they look at how the tyres are put together. By manufacturing the tyres in a certain way, Continental has come up with a tyre that is A rated for wet braking and A rated for rolling resistance, according to the EU tyre label.
Are green tyres worthwhile?
The tyres are a car’s only bit of contact with the road. As such they can account for up to a third (30%) of a motor’s fuel consumption and a fifth of its CO2 emissions. Research from the University of Munich in Germany claims that a family travelling 20,000 miles a year in the average hatchback would shave £200 off their annual fuel bill with eco tyres. Even if the average UK family probably only travels about half that distance it’s still a worthwhile saving.
How do you pick the right eco tyre?
First thing’s first, look in your car’s user manual. The best tyres for it are frequently what it left the factory on. If it wasn’t on eco tyres – many electric cars use them to increase their range – ask the manufacturer what brand they recommend. Alternatively, look at independent tyre tests and see which come out on top.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.