Fuel economy 101 – Can you get better fuel economy by over inflating your tires?

over inflating tires for better fuel economy

Can over inflating one's tires really help with fuel economy? Read this article and find out!


I was asked this question the other day by a friend whom had heard this from another friend. When he asked me was is it possible to get better gas mileage and fuel economy by over inflating one’s tires? Well what do you think? Do you think that this is possible or do you think that over inflating one’s vehicle’s tires is plain stupidity and an urban legend?

Well, actually there’s a lot of research going on into this and similar matters right now. And that’s for two reasons one is obviously fuel prices are only going up and gas is not getting any cheaper at the pump. The other more important reason is because as we have grown so dependent on foreign oil and gas we have overly enriched some very radical and terrorist prone countries like those in the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela.

So we need to curb this outflow of billions and billions of dollars for foreign oil. So anything we can do that’s reasonable to get better gas mileage and save at the pump not only helps our personal pocketbook or wallet but it also helps the US economy and even helps the environment at the same time.

Now the idea behind over inflating one’s tires comes from some more radical fuel savers that are called or commonly referred to as hyper milers. These people go above and beyond the norm in trying to get the best gas mileage out of their vehicles. Some of these people go as far as to remove the backseat and passenger seats from their vehicles to reduce weight.

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By over inflating one’s tires you actually reduce the amount of contact you have with the road and that reduces the drag and the force required to maintain a constant speed. Obviously at lower speeds this would have a much lesser effect. But if one were to drive at highway speeds a lot you would definitely see a marked difference. Hyper milers have reported that over inflating one’s tires by 5% can actually increase fuel economy upwards of 15% or more.

That’s pretty big savings when you consider the average price of gas now is about $2.80 a gallon. So if there were to cost $35 to fill up your car now a meager savings of just 15% would save you five dollars at each fill up. Or the equivalent of 2.8 gallons per fill up that you’re saving. That’s pretty big savings especially when you look at it on a monthly or yearly basis.

Now the other question you have to ask is is it safe to overinflate your tires by 5%? Some hyper milers inflate their tires beyond this and that may really be pushing the limit on a pair of tires. Some manufactures like Michelin and Goodyear are now coming out with specially made tires that actually get better fuel economy. This may be a safer way to get better fuel economy and gas mileage than by over inflating one’s tires.

How not to tell you it’s safe to overinflate your tires, but numerous government agencies are now looking into this to see what the safety limit is too little bit over inflating and if this could be done in a nationwide scale how much fuel could the US really save on a yearly basis – the answer here could be millions of barrels of oil could be saved! So this is something that definitely needs to be looked into more and hopefully the government will come out with some clarification into this issue and whether or not over inflating can or should be done to increase fuel economy and gas mileage.


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One Response to Fuel economy 101 – Can you get better fuel economy by over inflating your tires?

  1. mystere on June 18, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    If you mean overinflating the tires beyond what the vehicle maker recommends, and not going over the maximum cold pressure listed on the tire, then it does improve the mileage. I inflate my tires to what it says on the tire, and have exceeded the expected mileage life of the tire. I happened to put 15,000 more miles on my last set than what it was expected to last. I carry a load with my truck, and if the tires are at the pressure that the vehicle says to inflate them, they get a bit warm, and it’s harder to steer the truck. When I go by the maximum cold pressure, it’s as if I had power steering on my truck…I have manual steering.

    One word of warning: do not go higher than what is posted on the tire! That is definitely overinflating the tire, and it will damage it under any condition. You need a minimum of what the make says to inflate it to, and you can go up to the pressure on the sidewall, but never above it. The pressure the make says is the minimum to safely handle the car or truck; if it’s under, you will risk injury and your life. If you go higher than what’s on the tire, you also risk your safety, and endanger other motorists.

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