Goodyear is a company best known for their iconic blimp. It’s been featured in television shows, movies, and even Ice Cube’s 1992 hit “It Was a Good Day”. Although the blimp is still doing laps around California, the Goodyear logo spends most of it’s time cruising the roads of America.
As one of the largest tire companies in the world, Goodyear has options for almost every vehicle on the road, in both premium and budget categories. Today, we’ll be looking at a tire that makes a unique promise. The Assurance Fuel Max tire is supposed to save you money on both the purchase price, and at the pump. But we all know how important good tires are, so we decided to put this tire to the test to see if the claims are warranted, and if this tire should have a place on your own wheels.
The Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tires are available for passenger vehicles, focused primarily on smaller cars. They’re available in widths ranging from 175mm to 235mm, ratios from 45 to 70, and rim sizes from 15 to 17. If you drive a compact or full size car, you can rest easy knowing that there is a size that will fit your vehicle. There are some models available for vans and light trucks, although these are not as comprehensive as the smaller tires.
With a speed rating of H, they’re suitable for speeds of up to 130 Mph or 210 Km/h. While not the fastest available, this should cover most non-exotic vehicles.
These are an economy priced tire, with most sizes selling for a little under $100 each. That being said, they have above average performance for their price category. This has lead them to be a very common dealer installed tire on many smaller vehicles, especially when fuel economy is one of the main selling points.
Although sold as an all season tire, they are geared more for dry and wet environments. Coastal regions that don’t get a lot of snow can run these all year round, but for the colder states you’ll still want to continue to run dedicated winter tires.
These tires have large tread blocks, with a lot of road contact coming off the sidewalls. Although there are slight inclines in the groves to keep fluid and debris out, they are still reasonably straight. This means that when you hit the brakes, there is a lot of surface area slowing you down. Despite their low price, they still had above average braking performance in both dry and wet conditions, which is not something you often see at this price point.
These tires have quite firm sidewalls, which support the shoulder blocks when under strain. This gives them impressive handling performance, allowing you to make tight turns without much slipping or squealing. Although they performed better than most tires in it’s class, this is something we’d consider essential for any tire installed on a small, peppy car. These vehicles are very lightweight, and don’t put a lot of pressure on the ground. It’s important to have a tire, like this one, that can grip the ground and keep you travelling in the direction you want to go.
As these tires are intended for both dry and wet environments, their performance was above average in wet conditions. This is due primarily to the wet block / dry block system in place. You’ll notice four large grooves that run the circumference of the tire. This provides channels for the water to enter, while the rotational force of the tire flings the water out through the deep grooves in the tread block. You’ll notice that the grooves are alternating in direction in the center blocks, but straightens out and the sides. This uses the motion of the water to launch it at high speeds through the sidewall, keeping it out of the dry blocks on the side.
The end result? You get a tire that you can drive in the pouring rain, without worrying about loss of traction or hydroplaning.
Snow & Ice Performance
Despite being an all season tire, this design is just not conducive to driving in snowy conditions. Both traction and braking performance were average at best when compared with other all season tires, and seasoned winter drivers know that these just won’t do. If you have to buy a pair of all seasons to run in the snow, there are better options. But if at all possible, you’ll get much better performance running these most of the year, and a pair of entry level snow tires in the winter.
Can these tires actually save you money on gas? This is the million dollar question. First, let’s understand how this feature is supposed to work. Imagine that you kick a soccer ball down a paved road. You can probably kick it pretty far. Kick the same ball on a grass field, and it will slow to a stop much earlier. This is due to rolling resistance. By making the tire from a slightly harder material that remains smooth through it’s life, the tires won’t slow your car down quite as much while on the road. This helps you keep your foot off the gas pedal, keeping a little gas in your tank.
Goodyear claims that you can save up to 4,000km (2,600 mi) worth of gas over the lifetime of the tires. On a Honda Civic, this would work out to be $166 in savings. On a Mustang, you’d save $375, almost paying for the tires.
But what’s important to remember is that these numbers are derived from tests in a lab. In the real world, how much you’ll save depends on where and how you drive. Studies by the EPA have determined that, during steady speed driving, 25% of your gas is used to overcome rolling resistance. Driveling friction accounts for 15%, and air drag is almost 60%. But reducing rolling resistance will still improve your fuel economy a bit.
If you’re driving in the city, you’re probably used to stop and go traffic. 35% of your fuel is used just getting your car moving, 45% goes to the drive line, 5% to air friction, and only a meager 15% for tire rolling resistance. For city drivers, you won’t see any noticeable improvement.
You also need to consider what kind of tires you have on your car now. Many gas effecient vehicles are sold with low rolling resistance tires, and manufacturers recommend that they are always used. If you already have low resistance tires, you won’t notice much of an improvement with the Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max, but you’ll definately notice a decrease without them.
All of that being said, these tires have some of the lowest rolling resistance on the market. If your vehicle requires them, they are an incredible buy.
One of the nice things about low resistance tires is that they won’t wear out as quickly. The Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max come with a 60,000 Km tread wear warranty, which is almost unheard of at this point. They’ll likely last much longer than that, but if they somehow wear out before you’ve driven 60,000 Km, you’ll get replacement tires.
With firm sidewalls for improved handling, and hardened rubber for reduced rolling resistance, there are several key benefits to the materials used in these tires. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of comfort. The tires aren’t uncomfortable to ride on, but if you’re coming from a set of ultra-soft tires you’ll definately notice a difference. You feel the road a little more, and small bumps rely on your suspension to absorb. With a lighter vehicle, this will be less noticeable. But heavier cars with beefy suspension won’t be quite as smooth as they could be.
Our Final Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max Review
Unfortunately, these tires aren’t some magical tool that will double your fuel economy and pay themselves off. But many fuel effecient vehicles are designed for low rolling resistance tires, and these are the best you can buy in that regard. Combined with their low price, high tread life, and excellent handling, we’d recommend these as an affordable option for any budget minded consumer.