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Super Wide Tires, Aluminum Wheels & Weight Savings

April 01, 2009
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In the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership’s specifications for Class 8 vehicles, lighter-weight tractor and trailer components are recommended as potential fuel saving options.

Reducing 3,000 lbs. from a heavy-duty vehicle, EPA notes, could save between 200 and 500 gallons of fuel each year.

“Truck fuel consumption increases with the weight of the vehicle,” EPA SmartWay program literature states. “Heavier trucks require more fuel to accelerate and to climb hills and every ten percent drop in truck weight reduces fuel use between five and ten percent. Using aluminum and other lightweight components where appropriate can reduce empty weight, improve fuel efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Most truck manufacturers, EPA goes on to note, offer lightweight models that are 1,000 lbs. or more lighter than comparable versions. Lighter-weight models combine different weight-saving wheel-end options that may include aluminum wheels. SmartWay specs also include a recommendation for using optional low rolling resistance wide base single tires mounted on aluminum wheels.

In turn, wheel manufacturers are offering aluminum wheels in 22.5x14-inch sizes to help bring additional weight and fuel savings to fleets. Alcoa notes that some fleets have experienced savings of 3% to 7% with super wide tire and wheel combinations. Estimates from Accuride include 2.5 % fuel savings per tractor and 5% per combination vehicle.

Super wide tire and wheel assemblies save fuel, in part, because they include only half as many flexing sidewalls as a set of duals. Tire rolling resistance, a major factor in a tire’s fuel efficiency, is the amount of drag created by tires as the vehicle runs down the highway. Part of rolling resistance comes from sidewall flexing as the tire rolls into and out of contact with the pavement.

Actual weight savings with super wide aluminum wheels vary by manufacturer. Alcoa’s 14-inch aluminum wheels, according to the company, can save 318 lbs. per axle or 1,272 lbs. per combination when used in place of dual wheels on drive and trailer positions. The wheels, which weigh only 68 lbs. each, are load rated up to 12,800 lbs.

Accuride DupleX-One 22.5x14-inch aluminum wheels, the company notes, reduce fuel expense or increase payload capacity when used in place of traditional dual wheel sets on tandem-axle tractors and trailers. Developed in conjunction with Michelin, the forged aluminum wheels can save 120 lbs. per axle.

Additional benefits of super wide tires and wheels, the manufacturers also point out, include reduced maintenance costs. Those expenses are lower, they say, because there are only four wheel positions per tandem compared to eight. In addition, without an inner tire/wheel, inflation and visual inspection becomes much easier and more effective. Super wide aluminum wheels also tend to help keep brake packages running cooler and, therefore, lasting longer.

Adding it all up, when it comes to using larger single tires and wheels in place of traditional dual tire assemblies, bigger may be better in terms of spec’ing for improved fuel efficiency.

The use of super wide single tires on drive and trailer axles by fleets is growing. As more and more of these tire/wheel products come on the market, there will be many claims of fuel efficiency, weight and cost gains for fleets. As the dealer, it will be up to you to help your fleet customer navigate these claims and products and choose the most effective for their unique needs.

Submit a Comment   Legacy Comments
avatar   Nash   star   5/6/2010   10:18 PM

Lower maintenance costs are negated when you are sitting on the side of the road with four drive tires instead of limping to a tire shop a few miles away on the dual that's still keeping the other rim off the ground.

Road-side call $350, Ultra Wide Tire - $550, Lost time on your log book, Several hours. Dangers sitting on the side of the road waiting? Many. I would rather limp in at 40 MPH than be a sitting duck to a potentially major accident.

avatar   KL   star   12/5/2009   1:38 AM


avatar   Andrew Barlay   star   10/7/2009   11:10 AM

I am the Founder & President of Barlay Motor Sports, Inc. I am currently fabricating a concept car named the "Dragon GT" this sports car is intended to compete with the likes of the Ferrari Enzo, Lamborghini Mercualago, ect. The Dragon, will weigh in at just over 2,200 lbs. The all carbon fiber body and alluminum monocock chasis can only be fitted with a tire width that is greater than the Dunlop 325/30/20 currently available. That tire is also only approx. 13 inces wide. I am looking for a tire to be fitted onto a wheel which I will custom billet machine / fabricate to fit a tire that meets the crafts requirements. I am looking for a tire that will fit on a 20 inch tall wheel, but will be 16.5 to 18 inces in width across the tread as the road contact area. If you know of such a tire that is street legal and I may purchase a number of sets for testing as well as permanent road use, it would be very helpfull if you could assist me in locating this super wide tire. Thank You Andrew Barlay, Barlay Motor Sports, Inc.