A comprehensive but simple analytical model for predicting the energy loss in radial tires is presented. Using approximate structural analysis, the model relates the basic material properties and construction variables of the tire to its energy loss or rolling resistance. The formulas developed were computer‐programmed, and the tire rolling resistance and its distribution among the components of a typical radial automobile tire were computed. The significant contributions to rolling resistance were from tread compression, carcass cord extension and bending, and sidewall rubber bending. Parametric studies using the computer program were carried out to obtain the trends in rolling resistance due to changes in several tire material properties and construction variables. The computations also showed the existence of locally optimum values for the tread modulus, carcass cord modulus, and carcass cord end count which minimize the tire rolling resistance.