Wheeler Dealer
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Retired the Tired Tires
on my Nissan Leaf

May 1, 2015

Mark D Larsen

When I took my Leaf in for its 22,500 mile maintenance checkup last fall, the technician pointed out that its tires were getting thinner and would probably need replacing in a few more months. I therefore kept an eye on the treads, and noticed last week that, after 29,000 miles, the side grooves had indeed become bald enough to warrant investing in a new set.

I had scoured the web for advice from other Leaf owners, and also compared various makes and models of tires. Ultimately, I decided to bite the bullet and opted for the more expensive Michelin Energy Savers. A low rolling-resistence tire for hybrids and electric vehicles, they are comparable to the Bridgestone Ecopia EP 442s that came standard on my Leaf, except that the warrany promises more miles.

I shopped around for prices, but they were all pretty similar. Since Big O has always done a good job for us with our previous cars, I stopped by the store, asked for a quote, and agreed to let them order and install the Michelins last week.

Below on the left you can see my Leaf on the lift at Big O, ready to have the new tires mounted. On the right is when they were aligning the wheels.

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Line ‘em up
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The following photos show that it really was time to replace my Leaf’s tires. On the left is a photo of the Ecopias, and you can see that the outermost treads had nearly disappeared. On the right, you can see that there’s a world of difference with new Michelins, with unmistakeable outermost grooves.

Billiard balls
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One oddity about the new tires, however, is that those outer treadlines are different than the inner counterparts. The latter have more slits and grooves in them, as you can see in the photo below on the left. I am not sure what purpose those differences serve. Perhaps the inner, multiple treads provide better forward traction, while more surface area on the outside provides better grip around curves...? At least I can say that the Leaf does seems to handle those curves with renewed sure-footedness.

In and Out
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Although the tire sticker on the driver’s doorframe of the Leaf states 36 psi, I have always inflated my tires to 40 psi to increase energy efficiency, and asked Big O to do the same. When I checked the tire pressure afterwards with LEAFStat, it registered a little less than that, as shown in the screen shot above on the right, but might rise a bit as summer heats up.

Finally, I am curious to see what effect the new tires will have on my Leaf’s efficiency. The balding Ecopias likely played a role in boosting my miles-per-kWh average, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Michelins drop it back down to what it was when the Leaf was brand new.

June 1, 2015

As predicted, with the new Michelins, the miles-per-kWh average has dropped back down to the same level of efficiency as when I first took delivery of my Leaf:

I guess I’ll just have to put more rubber on the road over the next few months to boost it back up!