Canadian drivers will pay an estimated $703 million in unnecessary fuel bills in 2012 simply because one or more of their tires are underinflated, according to data from Natural Resources Canada and the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC), which represents tire makers.
This year alone under-inflated tires will cause motorists to waste an estimated 533 million litres of fuel - enough to power 275,000 vehicles for a full year. This needless fuel consumption will also release an additional 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
What causes all this waste is higher than necessary rolling resistance. A tire that is under-inflated does not roll as smoothly or as easily as it was intended. The result is increased rolling resistance, which requires the vehicle to burn more fuel to push the tire down the road.
The tire industry is advising drivers who want optimal fuel efficiency to reduce rolling resistance - and their fuel bills - by ensuring that their tires are always properly inflated and maintained.
Unfortunately, tire under-inflation on Canada's roadways is widespread. According to RAC research, one third of Canada's 20 million automobiles have at least one underinflated tire.
A motorist riding on under-inflated tires who annually drives 20,000 kilometres, for example, can save at least $100 at the pumps if their tires are inflated to the vehicle manufacturer's recommended level.
Drivers who log significantly more kilometres each year can potentially save much more. Despite these benefits, RAC research shows that only 30 per cent of Canadian drivers measure their tire pressures monthly.
Another common cause of increased rolling resistance is improper tire alignment. Savvy motorists take their vehicle in for service whenever they notice uneven wear or experience handling problems such as "pulling" or unusual vibrations.
Cost conscious motorists should also be aware tire makers are introducing innovative tire lines specifically designed and constructed for lower rolling resistance. In a recent Transport Canada study, tire makers reported that these technologically advanced tires can cut fuel consumption by as much as 4.5 per cent.
The potential of low rolling resistance tires to improve fuel efficiency is enormous. The average motorist using properly inflated LRR tires can expect to save hundreds of dollars over the life time of their tires.
Tire consumers can learn more about low rolling resistance tires by visiting their tire retailer.
"Canadian drivers have never been better positioned to put a dent in their fuel bills," says Glenn Maidment, president of the RAC. "Low rolling resistance tires, particularly when used in combination with a disciplined approach to proper tire inflation and maintenance, offer tangible savings. Motorists who minimize their tires' rolling resistance also significantly lower harmful emissions."