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Tires: Low Rolling Resistance
Old 10-22-2008, 11:26 AM   #1
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Tires: Low Rolling Resistance

Our current set of tires has now been used up (Toyo 800 ultra). They were great tires, in that they lasted longer than the 80,000 mile warranty, and gave us good gas mileage. I'd replace them with the same ones, but they have been discontinued.

According to this article:

Low-rolling resistance tires - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Michelin Symmetry model is the second best of all, and is available at Costco.

Thoughts?

Also, MPG improvements related to nitrogen inflation: real?
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Old 10-22-2008, 11:34 AM   #2
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They might be worth trying - then again you should do the break even analysis vs a less expensive tire.

Also, inflating a tire a couple of psi over the recommended psi might accomplish the same gas savings - be aware this might affect your stopping distance.

If you have a full size spare tire; put that into the rotation - it will reduce the time between tire purchases.

Nitrogen - I looked into it - not worth the cost - about 78% of the air you put into your tires is nitrogen anyway.
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Old 10-22-2008, 11:37 AM   #3
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Nitrogen - What Dex says. Save your money.
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Old 10-22-2008, 11:41 AM   #4
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Cooper CS4s...best tire I have ever had on......

Forget the nitrogen, you don't need the "bends"...........
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Old 10-22-2008, 11:45 AM   #5
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When I got my last set of tires from Costco, the Nitrogen fill-up was free. I've had them on for 3 years now, and haven't lost a single lb. of pressure. I wouldn't pay extra for it, but if it's free I would recommend it.
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Old 10-22-2008, 11:45 AM   #6
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Nitrogen is a hoax from what I can tell. (wait a minute, Hydrogen is a Hoax, I need something with an 'N'! ).

First, the air is ~ 80% N already. So, IF ( and that is an IF, I have not seen numbers to show there is a measurable difference in leakage rates in actual use) half of that other 20% leaks out, and you refill your tire again with air, you are almost all N just after one refill. 80% of the original air is N, and now 80% of the 10% that leaked out = 88% N. One more time, and you are at ~ 92% - and that is what they use at Costco (not pure distilled N, but micro-filtered N).

Some claim that the O2 is degrading the rubber. Again, can anyone provide numbers? The outside of the tire is exposed to O2 and UV, etc....

Some claim the moisture content in pumped air vs canned N promotes rusting of the wheel rim on the inside. I dunno - is this a problem?

Anytime I have a had a tire that needed to be topped off - there was a cause - a bad stem, a nail, a bad seal at the rim. I don't think N would have changed that. I'd love to see Costco fill 10 balloons with N and 10 balloons with air - would you see the N last longer? I doubt it.

Ahhhh - and there IS one of those UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES I speak of. The oil change place I go to normally checks your tire pressure, and will top it off and tell you if it was low. They don't have N, so they say "we don't touch tires with the green caps". Fine, I check it myself, but how many people go without their pressure checked?

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Old 10-22-2008, 12:36 PM   #7
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There is a wealth of information here: Safercar.gov

With tires, I'm less concerned about economy than I am with safety, so I look at heat ratings, wet and dry traction, and that the load-carrying ability of the tire is within specs. There are some really crappy tires out there and some excellent ones.

If the tires only last 50k miles but their traction keeps DW out of a wreck I'm a happy camper.
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:16 PM   #8
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I calculate that if a set of tires improves my mileage by 1 MPG, then over the life of the tires, it will save me about $150 (42 vs 41 mpg, $4/gal).

The symmetry tires are cheaper than the only other type that they have at Costco for our car, and cheaper than similar tires at Les Schwabbe.

Do you think I can rely on those ratings given in the wikipedia article?
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Also, MPG improvements related to nitrogen inflation: real?
No. No credible research supports it for consumer vehicles. I don't know if NASCAR even does it anymore or if that was a fad spread by hypercompetitive teams searching for any possible performance edge.*

Quote:
Originally Posted by harley View Post
When I got my last set of tires from Costco, the Nitrogen fill-up was free. I've had them on for 3 years now, and haven't lost a single lb. of pressure. I wouldn't pay extra for it, but if it's free I would recommend it.
After three years of operation around a permeable synthetic-rubber membrane, I suspect that an analysis of the gaseous contents of your tires would reveal that the N2 concentration is only ~78%. If indeed the free "N2" fillup was even at a concentration higher than 78%. I bet Consumer Reports would have a lot of fun with a portable gas analyzer at N2 dispensers...

* This competitive quest for the winning edge reminds me of Mark Spitz's moustache. After winning seven Olympic gold medals, he was asked by a Russian coach for his training secrets. Flippantly, he replied that it was his moustache. He claimed that it held his head higher in the water, optimized his body position, and forced more laminar flow down the front of his body. Within a few months the entire Russian team was sporting moustaches, but they never achieved the winning record to validate the coach's beliefs.
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:38 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Nords View Post
After three years of operation around a permeable synthetic-rubber membrane, I suspect that an analysis of the gaseous contents of your tires would reveal that the N2 concentration is only ~78%. If indeed the free "N2" fillup was even at a concentration higher than 78%. I bet Consumer Reports would have a lot of fun with a portable gas analyzer at N2 dispensers...
You're probably right. I'm not claiming any knowledge in this area. All of my expertise in nitrogen theory was received from Wippets balloons at Dead shows.
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:53 PM   #11
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I prioritize safety over rolling resistance, and so I use Michelin Hydroedge tires (actually fairly decent on rolling resistance) on my Prius, and I get about 2mpg less than with the factory tires which are very low rolling resistance but bad tires in all other respects. Bonus: they actually seem on track to live out their 80k warranty.
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Old 10-22-2008, 03:54 PM   #12
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You're probably right. I'm not claiming any knowledge in this area. All of my expertise in nitrogen theory was received from Wippets balloons at Dead shows.
That would be nitrous oxide...
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Old 10-22-2008, 04:15 PM   #13
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Al, I researched tires here Tire Rack - Your performance experts for tires and wheels before I replaced the factory set for our Honda Accord. You can enter all sorts of criteria to find the tire that best suits your needs. In my particular case the Goodyear Comfortread came out first and I believe the Michelin Symmetry was a very close second.
The Goodyears produced a much quieter ride ( one of the criteria I entered) and had a treadwear, traction, temp rating of 700 A B.

Hope this helps
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Old 10-22-2008, 04:44 PM   #14
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T Al

I put the Michelin Symmetry on DW's ghetto glider just a year ago. Big difference. The car had the factory Michelins but the new ones are unbelievably smooth and quiet and the big plus is better gas mileage.

On the old tires I could get 25+ mpg without much effort, with the Symmetry I can almost get 27 mpg, all highway driving. I run the factory recommended pressure.
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Old 10-22-2008, 05:53 PM   #15
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No. No credible research supports it for consumer vehicles. I don't know if NASCAR even does it anymore or if that was a fad spread by hypercompetitive teams searching for any possible performance edge.
The real reason that Nitrogen is used by pit crews to fill tires has nothing to do with performance. It is all about convenience.

Pit crews use pneumatic tools. So, they need compressed air. That would mean an air compressor, a place to plug it in, time to let it fill the tank up to pressure, and you have to wheel around a tank with a big motor, compressor and power cord sticking out of it.

Instead, get a welding tank of Nitrogen with a pressure regulator on it. Now, you can instantly use your air tools, w/o all the negatives of that air compressor. Hey, now that we have this for our tools, we might as well fill our tires with it. That's the real reason.

Now, if you google, you will find thousands of articles talking about how race drivers use it for more even tire pressure. 1) I've never found a source for this info - it appears to be just a repeated story. 2) If it does have an effect, it might not mean anything below 200mph.

-ERD50
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Old 10-22-2008, 07:35 PM   #16
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When costco went to Nitrogen I started obsessing about filling my tires with Nitrogen only... as long as it's no cost to me. I do feel like it has reduced the number of times I have to add air Nitrogen to my tires, and perhaps more importantly I find the tires more consistent in pressure when I do add, but it's a pretty marginal advantage.

Here's my take: When you fill your tires with normal air, which is about 20% oxygen and 80% nitrogen, over time the oxygen will tend to seep out of the tires more quickly than the nitrogen, so over time your tires end up being say 95% nitrogen a few months after they are installed.

If you then add normal air to top up one of the tires that is say 10psi lower than the others, 20% of the added air contains oxygen which will seep out over time, so that tire will eventually lose most of that oxygen, reducing its pressure by 2psi even if it hasn't leaked, requiring another top up.

If instead you had added 10psi of Nitrogen, then you won't have to do that later 2psi topup.

I suppose this example doesn't make it sound like much of a difference, but it would come into play in a big way if say one of your tires gets repaired and filled with normal air while the others are filled with Nitrogen. In that case the air filled tire would drop 20% of the 40psi tire pressure, or 8psi, over time which would require at least a few top ups that wouldn't have been otherwise needed.

And if you measure your air pressure with hot tires (sometimes unavoidable), the different expansion properties of nitrogen and air will tend to distort the readings when one tire has more oxygen than the others. I'm not sure whether this is a practical issue but it's theoretically sound.

So the takeaway for me is that it's best to stick with one or the other, but not worth the hassle to go out of my way to do so. If it's convenient for me to do a Costco run when my tires gets low, I'll do so, and if not I'll just fill it up wherever is convenient.

In retrospect, It's pretty clear to me that this is exactly the reason that Costco went to Nitrogen, to motivate people to go into their store as much as possible. Also since Costco is so good about honoring their tire warranties, they could save money by avoiding the small percentage of repairs avoided by the marginally better air pressure that nitrogen delivers.
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Old 10-22-2008, 08:22 PM   #17
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free4now - except, the difference isn't even that great to start with.

I finally found a link to some data:

Tires - Nitrogen air loss study: Consumer Reports Cars Blog

They filled a bunch of tires to 30psi, split between N and regular old air. After a year, the air tires leaked off just 3.5 PSI, the N filled ones a bit less, 2.2 PSI. A 1.3 PSI diff in a year.

Their summary - you should be checking your tires more than once a year anyhow, so the difference is miniscule.

Now, take the example that you and I gave where you do top off - and you keep getting more N in the tire anyhow, so that would make the delta even less after the first top off, basically no delta after the second top-off.

It sure looks like N is just a money-maker for the tire sellers. That does not surprise me, but I am disappointed that Costco is in on this minor scam also. I thought they were better than that. It could be they believe it too, though.

-ERD50
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Old 10-22-2008, 09:45 PM   #18
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Thanks ERD50. That is a useful study, and I defer my understanding to that practical result. Another interesting result from that study was in the FAQ:

Quote:
Q: What about daily, weekly, and/or monthly fluctuations due to significant changes in the ambient air temperatures? Would you expect that the psi variation due to ambient air temperature changes over shorter periods of time could be much more pronounced?
A:
We did look at the inflation pressure over various ambient temperatures but could not find a significant difference between air and nitrogen. We are not making any claims here, but just telling you what we found.
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Old 10-23-2008, 10:24 AM   #19
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Thanks guys, and thanks, Honey. The tires are ordered and on their way.

My only regret is that I didn't think to name this thread:
Time to Retire
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:06 PM   #20
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