Get Higher Gas Mileage in your Hybrid Vehicle
By George Harvey
Those of us who drive hybrid vehicles should be aware of the importance of low rolling resistance (LRR) tires. Having LRR tires can improve gas mileage by over 4%, and even in a hybrid vehicle, which already has good mileage, this can do much better than just to pay for any difference in cost over the tires’ lifetime. And any saving at the pump helps save our environment.
Steve Dupoise, owner of CountyTireCenter in Middlebury, Vermont, gave us a few tips and observations on low rolling resistance tires for hybrids. These tires are a specialty of his business; both he and his service personnel have been trained and certified for them. First, of course, is to use them instead of standard tires by all means. The first generation of LRR tires got a somewhat bad reputation because they wore faster than regular tires. Some people also felt they did not grip the road quite as well. The current generation of LRR tires has addressed those issues.
Beyond that, he advises any driver to meet the standard for tire pressure that is posted on the car’s door tag, rather than on the sidewall of the tire. Since the large batteries in hybrids make them heavy, compared with other cars, they may require slightly different pressure in the tires than standard cars.
He has some specific suggestions about what good brands and models are. Bridgestone makes LRR tires, and the B-381 is one. Bridgestone Ecopia tires are also designed and manufactured specifically to be as kind to the environment as possible. These come in a number of different types, including snow tires.
Another tire company he suggests is the Nokian R2, which is a snow tire without studs. For those who need studs, the Hakkapeliitta R8 fits the bill. Dupoise says either of these tires can do well with a Prius because they have good grip. Nokian has been working on a new substance for tires, a blend of silica, canola oil, and natural rubber it calls Cryosilan.
Other tire companies are moving to producing LRR tires, as well. This is true not only for those tires that are used on hybrid vehicles, but for all vehicles. Standards are changing, and that includes those required by the government. We see both federal and state governments discussing requiring LRR tires on all cars to improve fuel mileage.
The web site for CountryTireCenter is countytirecenter.com. The number is (802)388-7620.