Buying an electric vehicle is different from buying a regular gas car. You don’t have to worry about maintenance or stopping for gas, but you will have to keep an eye on the battery. And like any vehicle, you’ll eventually need new tires for your EV.
So, do electric vehicles need special tires? As EVs continue to gain popularity, not to mention exciting new electric trucks like the F-150 Lightning become available, it’s a question we see more and more. You’ve probably seen them advertised and wondered, “what’s an EV tire?” The answer is yes, you’ll want to get EV-specific tires for your vehicle, and here’s what you need to know.
When you look at an electric vehicle, the tires might look the same as what’s on your car, but they’re absolutely different. The tires on EVs tend to wear out faster due to the additional weight and extra torque that hits the road. Plus, EV tires typically have less tread to improve range and decrease noise.
If you’ve ever shopped for new tires, you may be familiar with load ratings. The load range indicates the heaviest load a specific tire can handle. The most common options in the U.S are load range C, D, and E for consumer vehicles.
However, There’s a new load range of tires called HL, which stands for “high-load” capacity. These tires can handle a heavier load at the same tire pressure as traditional tires and are perfect for electric vehicles.
Over the last year, we’ve seen several new EV tires arrive from Michelin, Hankook, Pirelli, and even Goodyear released a new line promising a quieter ride. Those are just a few of many, and we’re expecting more soon.
These tires promise to either last longer, offer more comfort, improve performance, or potentially increase range while decreasing road noise.
The tires on electric vehicles need to be able to handle the additional weight. And while vehicles come in all different sizes and weights, you’ll want the right tire for your EV car or truck.
EVs weigh more than typical gas guzzlers due to the battery cells hiding under the chassis. With a regular tire, all that extra weight would require more air pressure and more tread to prevent premature wear. Otherwise, you’d need a big tire typically found on a Chevy Silverado for your Tesla or Hyundai IONIQ 5. And obviously, that’s not ideal.
So, when it comes time to swap the tires on your electric car, you’ll want to get a tire with an HL load rating. This will be especially important on electric trucks.
The next thing we want to mention is instant torque and acceleration, two things all EV owners seem to absolutely love. Electric vehicles don’t have all the moving parts of a combustion engine, and they have instant on-demand torque.
Here’s a statement from Ian Coke, the CTO at Pirelli North America, when the company launched its new P Zero All Season EV tires.
“Developing a tire specifically for electric vehicles requires a number of considerations you do not encounter when working with internal combustion engines. Electric vehicles are heavier, have more powerful and faster acceleration off the line, and require lower rolling resistance.”
Your EV will need a tire with better traction to grip road surfaces. With a regular tire that doesn’t have as much grip, you’ll do a burnout and wear out all that rubber. The initial and instant torque of an EV puts a ton of friction on the tires, and if you want to feel your head hit the back of the seat, you’ll want EV-rated tires.
Whether you drive a gas-guzzling car or an electric vehicle, your range or miles per gallon is important. Gas is expensive, the cost of electricity and Supercharger stations is going up, and no matter what you drive, you’ll want the best performance possible.
Another thing you’ll want to consider when buying new tires for your EV is the rolling resistance. Every new “EV tire” released in the last 12-18 months mentions the potential to increase range thanks to handling the extra weight while still delivering excellent rolling resistance.
When a tire rotates, it causes friction with the road, and that resistance means the electric motors have to work more to get up to speed. As a result, your battery life and mileage may suffer. Worn-out or incorrect tires will change the rolling resistance, which will impact your driving range.
Goodyear’s latest EV tires have a new asymmetric tread pattern and specialized tread compound, which should decrease wear and resistance, giving users a better overall experience and more range.
And finally, we should talk about road noise. As we all know, electric vehicles are nearly silent. You don’t hear the roar of a V8 in your truck or that engine guzzling gas to keep your SUV or sedan cruising down the highway.
Electric vehicles are quiet, which means you’ll hear humming from the tires and every bit of road noise. It’s actually pretty weird when you experience it for the first time. Tesla even released a software feature that uses the interior speakers to try and block or minimize road sounds, similar to noise-canceling headphones.
EV tires are designed with road noise in mind. For example, the P Zero All Season Plus Elect claims to eliminate road noise with its Pirelli Noise Canceling System (PNCS) and sound-deadening material inside the tire. The Goodyear ElectricDrive GT line uses similar SoundComfort technology, and Michelin EV tires have a special polyurethane foam that aims to reduce tire and road noise.
In the end, these tires should offer a quiet and more comfortable ride. Using a standard tire on your EV will likely make for a loud driving experience.
When you put all these changes together, it’s clear how challenging the task is for tire manufacturers. Electric vehicles need an uncompromising tire to handle the added weight, yet grippy enough to deliver torque to the ground. All while keeping rolling resistance and road noise to a minimum for improved range and drive comfort.
The maintenance will be about the same as any regular tire. You’ll want to keep them inflated to the correct PSI, watch for cracks or uneven wear over time, rotate them frequently, and keep an eye on the tread depth as EV tires can wear out faster than typical wheels.
Then, when the time comes to replace the tires, do some research and choose something similar to what your EV came with. Don’t cheap out when it comes to EV tires.