Low Rolling Resistance Trailer Tires: Everything You Need to Know

August 2nd, 2021

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If you’re looking for a way to maximize fuel efficiency and save on gas for your fleet, you’ll want to learn more about low rolling resistance tires. Rolling resistance in tires is a common feature that manufacturers designed to meet fuel-economy standards. They are popular among semi-trailer drivers for their energy efficiency and their longer life expectancy. Fully treaded tires travel farther per tire than shallow-treaded, worn tires.

Tire technology has advanced and become so much more efficient that in 2010, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) enacted the Tractor-Trailer Greenhouse Gas regulation in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions certain tractor-trailers produce. The intention of this law was to make road travel more environmentally friendly by requiring tractor-trailers operating on California highways to use U.S. EPA SmartWay verified aerodynamic technologies and equipping these vehicles with low rolling resistance (LRR) tires.

What else makes low resistance tires different from their standard competitor? We’ll explain below, but first, let’s examine the structure of a tire.

The Anatomy of a Truck Tire

Truck tires are made up of a few different elements. Let’s explore the basic structure of a tire: 

  • Rubber Liner: The inside of a tire is typically made from a synthetic butyl rubber liner, made of a gas-resistant polymer. The rubber liner acts as a sealant that prevents any air leakage.
  • Body/Carcass Ply: Layers of plies act as the skeleton of a tire. Made of artificial fibers like polyester and rayon, these layers determine your tires’ head resistance and controllability.
  • Crown Plies: Crown plies provide the rigid base for the tread. The plies improve your truck’s gas mileage, centrifugal and lateral rigidity and allow the tire to flex for a comfortable ride.
  • Beads: A tire bead is located on the tire’s inner edge. It is a high-strength steel cable coated with rubber and is designed to position the tire against the rim.
  • Stiff Sidewall: The sidewall is the outermost layer on the side of the tire. It is designed to protect the tire from hazardous objects while adding a layer of protection from leaking air. The sidewall is marked with a speed rating, load rating, and tire dimensions.
  • Tread: The tread is the part of the tire that makes contact with the road. It provides the traction needed to stay safe in various conditions. Tires with high-quality tread will resist wear, abrasion, and heat.

What are Low Rolling Resistance Trailer Tires?

Low rolling resistance (LRR) tires are designed to save energy by minimizing rolling effort. Their low rolling resistance reduces friction, so less energy is expended, and less fuel is consumed.

Rolling resistance tires are increasingly important as environmental restrictions (fuel economy standards) on vehicles are strengthened, and fuel costs rise. Car and truck manufacturers are already pushing for tire manufacturers to play a primary role in reaching modern fuel economy standards. With the growth of electric vehicles, and eventually, electric trucks – rolling resistance directly influences the range, practicality, and consumer appeal of any given tire.

How Tires Impact Fuel Economy

According to Fleet Equipment Magazine, 5–15% of the fuel consumed by a typical gas vehicle is used to combat rolling resistance. Therefore, LRR tires are thought of as a new “green” alternative to standard, worn tires.

Additionally, the EPA SmartWay program determined that certified low rolling resistance tires provide measurable fuel savings to vehicle owners. Their research indicated that less than ideal rolling resistance accounts for a high amount of fuel consumption. When vehicles were equipped with low rolling resistance features, the amount of necessary fuel decreased.

Although the SmartWay data is based on using low rolling resistance steer, drive, and trailer axle tires to improve fuel consumption, semi-trailer manufacturers embrace the positive impact trailer tires make on fuel efficiency.

Are Low Rolling Tires Worth It?

If you are looking to improve your fleet’s fuel economy, investing in rolling resistance tires is entirely worth it. They are one of the easiest ways to overcome the fuel-guzzling standard that accompanies large vehicles.

The benefits of the tires come from high-quality material with Silica and a shallower design that ensures better traction.

The downsides of low resistance tires are reduced road grip and the need to keep the tires fully inflated. If tire pressure deflates, the fuel-saving advantages may decrease.

Best Low Rolling Resistance Tires

The EPA encourages fleet owners and operators to consider SmartWay’s list of verified LRR tires when making tire choices for tractors and trailers.

Some of the top-rated low resistance tires include:

  1. Michelin Energy Saver A/S
  2. Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max.
  3. Continental TrueContact Tour
  4. Firestone Champion Fuel Fighter
  5. Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus

Learn More About Low Rolling Resistance Tires at Hale Trailer

If you’re looking for semi-trailers for rent or semi-trailers for sale, ask a Hale Trailer expert about LRR tires. Your future truck may already come equipped with new tire tread technology. We offer customizations and the latest features so you can get the most out of your fleet. If you have questions about the best low resistance tires or another trailer-related inquiry, contact Hale Trailer or visit one of our locations near you.

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