Do Winter Tires Use More Gas? And 2 Reasons Why This May Be The Case

Do winter tires use more gas?

In my experience, ‘YES’, winter tires affect the gas consumption of your vehicle. However, this needs to be qualified. One of my vehicles had non-studded winter tires; the other had oversized studded tires.

While both used more gas in the winter. One used far more than the other, read on to find out.

The answer to the question of whether winter tires use more gas is not as simple as it may seem. There are a lot of factors to consider, and they all depend on what type of car you drive and how much time you spend driving in winter conditions.

This article will examine the various aspects involved with this issue: How much fuel does your vehicle consume? Why is my gas mileage worse in the winter? And how much more fuel do winter tires consume? Do bigger tires make your gas mileage worse?

The drop in gas mileage was not much in this vehicle. These were standard winter tires (that worked fantastic by the way) on a Honda Civic. My miles per gallon did drop a bit when I had the winter tire on.

On the other hand, I had oversize studded tires on my Nissan X-Terra. There was a considerable drop in gas mileage with these tires on. Miles per gallon wasn’t great to begin within this vehicle, but with winter tires on there was a 4 to 5 mpg drop. Yikes!

The answer to this question is not as straightforward as it may first appear. There are a number of variables to consider, and they all vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle and how much time you spend driving in winter conditions.

Why is Gas Mileage Worse in the Winter?

Gas mileage is worse in the winter for a number of reasons. Most of the reasons have nothing to do with your tires. They are other environmental concerns and physics (yes, physics) that affect your gas mileage in the winter.

One of the first things to understand is that having snow or ice-covered car will dramatically decrease your gas mileage because snow and slush often ball up on your tires, wheels, and underneath your vehicle which slows it down. Not only does this mess with your gas mileage, but it can also hinder your steering. If you have snow or slush build-up in your wheel wells, take it down.

Another reason for this decrease in gas mileage is that when you drive on snow and ice your tires must be able to grip the surface, which means they must work harder.

This becomes an issue of physics: the power needed to speed up a car increases exponentially with its weight — so a 10% increase in weight requires a 20% increase in power. The heavier a vehicle is, the less efficient it will be at climbing hills and accelerating from a standstill – both vital aspects of winter driving.

Do bigger tires make your gas mileage worse?

Speaking from personal experience, and in my particular case, the answer to this question is, ‘Yes’, bigger tires hinder your fuel economy. I mentioned the oversized tires on the X-terra.

These tires reduced my miles per gallon by four or five miles. That is pretty significant; it is also why I waited to install these tires on my vehicle. On the other hand, those tires were awesome in the snow. So, there was a trade-off.

Many people believe that larger tires do use more gas, but that is not always the case for all vehicles. There are too many variables involved to make a general statement about this.

Why do some sets of larger tires use more gas? Large wheels do increase rolling resistance, which will require more gas to overcome the added resistance and keep the vehicle moving at a constant speed. 

In the end, it is hard to say whether or not bigger tires worsen fuel economy. There are cases to support that it does and doesn’t.

In my experience with larger winter tires, it most definitely affected my gas mileage.

Final Thoughts…

The answer to this question is not as straightforward as it may first appear. There are a number of variables to consider, and they all vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle and how much time you spend driving in winter conditions.

As I mentioned, however, it has been my experience that winter tires use more gas. And there are a number of reasons for this.

One of the first things to understand is that having snow or ice-covered car will dramatically decrease your gas mileage because snow and slush often ball up on your tires, wheels, and underneath your vehicle which slows it down.

Not only does this mess with your gas mileage, but it can also hinder your steering. If you have snow or slush build-up in your wheel wells, take it down.

Another reason for this decrease in gas mileage is that when you drive on snow and ice your tires must be able to grip the surface, which means they must work harder.

Even the more aggressive tread on winter tires has an impact on fuel economy. Even though winter tires do use more gas; I wouldn’t go without a set. The control they give you on snow and ice can not be understated.

So if you haven’t yet go out and get a set of winter tires. You will be thankful you did and as always

Safe travels…

More Tire Articles

Love reading about tires? I have a lot more articles for you. Check them out here:

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