Recently, Groupe Michelin and truck manufacturer Volvo teamed up to study the influence of tire and wheel-related factors on fuel consumption – and found having the right tires, tire pressure and wheel alignment can reduce consumption by up to 15%.
Volvo noted this equates to a savings of as much as $8,000 per vehicle per year.
"We know that wheel alignment, tire type and tire pressure all have a major impact on fuel consumption," said Arne-Helge Andreassen, manager for tires and wheel alignment at Volvo Trucks. "However, there is a lack of awareness in the transport industry about the importance of checking tires and wheel alignment on both the truck and the trailer. At our dealers, we can help haulage companies check the entire combination and correct any problems. If everyone did this, it would have a significant impact on carbon dioxide emissions.”
In a two-week long, 1,000-kilometer test, a combination with optimal tires, tire pressures and wheel alignment was compared with a vehicle featuring different wheel alignments and tire parameters. The tests were carried out on a track and in a workshop under the watchful eye of the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden. The trucks’ fuel gauges were supplemented by special instruments that monitored exact speed, tire wear, tire pressure and rolling resistance. The test engineers made adjustments in the test results for factors such as wind, rain and temperature.
"All the conditions tested were realistic, and no exaggerations were allowed," Andreassen commented. "Real life is bad enough. Diesel consumption increases dramatically if the wheels are not entirely parallel. And this applies to all vehicles, for construction and long-haul operations, too."
Volvo reports that analysis of the test results reveals a difference of as much as 14.5% in fuel consumption depending on how the wheels are aligned and equipped. Choice of tire can cut consumption by as much as 11%. Correct tire inflation brings a reduction of 1%, while proper wheel alignment can cut fuel consumption by 2.5%.
Jacques de Giancomoni, technical account manager at Michelin, explained that one-third of fuel consumption stems from the tires’ rolling resistance. "Having the right tires is of paramount importance," he said. "But checking tire pressure which also has a significant effect on fuel consumption is also important." (Tyres & Accessories)