I do spend money on getting good, branded tyres, and for very good reasons, see my blowout post.
However, with the economy what it is, even I have succumbed to looking into energy saving tyres for our main car.
Michelin energy savers seem to be the one’s to have at the moment, but they’re damned expensive. So are they worth it?
I did try fuel saving tyres once before. At the time we had an old clio diesel and Avon were producing a fuel saving tyre that was also the specified tyre for a caterham racing formula. Ideal I thought – sporty AND frugal. Unfortunately they no longer do them, which is a shame, because they gripped well and they gave us an extra 2-3 mpg. They were much, much cheaper than the michelins though, (they were a smaller size mind).
So, having trawled various forums and review sites, people were reporting what I considered to be ridiculously high mileages out of michelins, and frankly I didn’t believe the reports represented people who didn’t drive like Miss Daisy. Then at Le Mans last year, my Uncle turned up with his front wheel drive Citroen.
OK, so he doesn’t generally hoon about in his car, so you’d expect his tyres to last somewhat, but when I caught him inspecting how much tread depth he’d got left, I was shocked when he told me he’d already done 40,000km (25k in old money) on them. Looking at them myself, I could see there was still plenty of life left in them too.
Silly really. Pretty much all the Le Mans winners of the last 10 years have done it on michelins – I guess they know how to make a quality tyre that lasts. So I decided tried them.
Now, like most petrolheads, when I drive, there is often a bit of hooning about, although less so now we have the little one. I have to wait ’till I’m on my own and don’t have him or the speed limiter (Mrs Inthemetal) on board. So here’s my opinion of them.
- Not very good in the snow
Some one on a forum somewhere suggested they were, but that’s complete tripe. There’s not much difference in comparison with other regular tyres, but they’re not a patch on winter tyres. Mind you, if you want your tyres to last you wouldn’t buy winter tyres anyway. They’re much softer than regular tyres and wear out quite quickly when the weather gets warmer.
- They let go suddenly in the wet sometimes
They’re not the most progressive of tyres. I think this may be due to their construction. Sports tyres, for example, deform quite a bit so there’s a larger contact patch of rubber on the road. Also, the rounder a tyre is, the less rolling resistance it has, thus the more energy saving benefits. This also explains why sports tyres often have a higher rolling resistance. It seems huge grip and green credentials are somewhat mutually exclusive still. The michelins also don’t give a great amount of on limit feedback, so no hooning around if you buy a set.
- Reasonably good grip
I was initially worried that in terms of handling and grip, the michelins would be a huge step down from what I’m used to. What am I used to? Well, “sporty” tyres like Toyo Proxes T1-R’s, or Goodyear Eagle F1’s. For rainy British roads, these particular tyres are about the best compromise you can get, giving good dry grip together with superb wet weather grip.
OK, so the michelins certainly weren’t in that category of grip, but miles better than any budget brand, and are more than acceptable for a driver who likes to press on.
- They do save fuel
It didn’t seem to make any difference with 2 tyres, but with energy savers on all 4 wheels now, the car definitely returns a few more mpg. Haven’t finished measuring it yet though.
- They do last well
And after 8,000 miles, the rears haven’t worn much, which you can judge by comparing them with the fronts which have done only 2,000 miles since fitting. As a spirited driver, I normally get little more than 10-15,000 miles max. out of a set of tyres – particularly at the driven end, so this looks good.
Normally, with a bit of luck, I can usually get 2 of something reasonable, fitted for £120. This will usually be Avons or Falkens, (good british makes), or if I go for a more well known make, more like £150, but I got the energy savers done for £178 for the pair. That’s almost 50% more, so wearwise, I’ll be happy if I get more than 22,500 miles out of them.
There is the fuel saving on top of this too of course.
Our tank takes 14.3 gallons (or 65 litres) of fuel. The low fuel light generally comes on after using about 13 gallons whereupon we fill up again, so we do 650 miles between each petrol station visit. I haven’t measured it properly yet, but from experience with the Avons, 3 mpg would be a good figure to play around with.
Taking that figure, an extra 3 mpg would give us an extra 40 miles per fill up. So equivalent to about 3/4 of a gallon, or 3.3 litres. At £1.42/litre, that gives a saving of £4.75 approximately. If we get a lifetime of 25,000 miles out of them, which seems likely, they’ll effectively pay for themselves.
Which would be nice 🙂
Well, I wasn’t sure at first because we were getting really good figures, but we’ve used a few tankfuls now and the results are in. We’re getting just over 55 mpg 🙂 which is pretty damn good, and goes some way to make up for the fact that it’s as slow as a 3 legged dog swimming the channel…