With so many things going "green" these days, one must ensure that the benefits of the new/improved products outweigh any negatives. Such is the case with eco-friendly tires! With so much riding on your tires, before you're sold into buying eco-friendly tires, consider everything.
Many tire companies seem to be heavily promoting and marketing eco-friendly ("green tires") as boosting your effective fuel economy and offering a cleaner environment, so let me talk about the claims.
The biggest difference between "traditional" tires and "eco-friendly" tires (READ MORE!) is the amount of rubber that makes contact with the road surface. Less rubber on the pavement means less resistance, resulting in slightly higher fuel economy. Much of the noted gains in fuel economy can be traced to the slimmer design. However, does this have implications on safety in the long term? Certainly tires with less rubber making contact on the road take longer to stop, lacking the surface area of traditional tires.
In fact, Burkhard Wied, the head of development for Continental Tire, has issued a warning to all consumers in relation to the "eco-tires". He warns about similar things that I've stated here that stopping distance increases, especially in wet conditions.
While I would like to get the best fuel economy possible, some of these products don't offer superior savings and performance compared to the traditional tires, which many times are cheaper.
While there may be some improvements in eco-friendly tires in the future, it seems that many of them available today aren't ideal. Had there been such great improvements, we would see major vehicle manufacturers using them to boost their fleets fuel economy to meet new federal laws.