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The Difference Between Low-Profile Tires and Regular Tires

Back in the late 60’s, the first high-performance low-profile tire was created and became a quick favourite of BMW and Porsche owners. Nowadays, these tires have crossed over from the world of auto sports into the mainstream market. From Honda Accords to Audis, low-profile tires are becoming a popular choice amongst regular vehicle owners.

Not all tires are created equal and this is no exception for the low-profile tire. If you are considering having these tires installed on your vehicle, it’s important to understand the difference between low-profile tires and regular tires.

Have you been considering getting low-profile tires for your car? Keep reading to find out what they are as well as the pros and cons of having them installed.

Low-Profile Tires vs Regular Tires

Every tire features a code on the sidewall that displays the tire’s aspect ratio. This is the ratio of the width of the tire to its height. Low-profile tires have a lower aspect ratio and shorter sidewall. Alternatively, regular tires have a higher aspect ratio and taller sidewall.

If you were to look at the sidewall of your tires you may see numbers such as P215/65 R15. The “R” number refers to your rim size, the “P” indicates that your vehicle is a passenger vehicle, and the number following it is the tire section width. The number following the slash, in this case, the number 65, shows that the height of the tire is 65% of the width. If a tire has a 50 aspect ratio of less, it is usually considered to be a low-profile tire. The narrower sidewall and larger wheel tend to give the tires a sportier look.

Apart from having a sportier look, there are advantages and disadvantages to having low-profile tires.

The Advantages of Low-Profile Tires

From a driving point of view, low-profile tires improve the handling of your vehicle while driving at higher speeds. Their increased width means that they can better grip the pavement and respond to cornering. Low-profile tires also tend to have bigger rims meaning that your vehicle can accommodate bigger brakes, allowing you to stop more quickly.

Here are a few other advantages to using low-profile tires:

  • Improved Handling: The stiffer sidewalls of a low-profile tire combined with the tires’ larger contact area leads to increased grip and better wheel response
  • Increased Fuel Efficiency: These stiff sidewalls, combined with simple tread patterns, results in low-profile tires having lower rolling resistance which creates better fuel economy
  • Better Braking: Larger rims are needed to compensate for the less space low-profile tires take, which means that larger braking hardware can be installed. This gives you more stopping power
  • Appearance: Overall, low-profile tires look fantastic! However, their aesthetic appeal depends entirely on your personal preferences and the style of your vehicle

green sports car with low profile tires

The Disadvantages of Low-Profile Tires

Some cars are designed to run on low-profile tires and others are not. If your vehicle is not designed to accommodate these tires, you could be sacrificing its stability.

Low-profile tires can often lead to a rougher ride where you feel every irregularity and bump on the surface of the road. Both the sidewalls and rims are more likely to become damaged due to road conditions.

Overall, low-profile tires are not recommended if you live in a snowy climate due to their poor gripping capabilities on snow surfaces.

Here are a few other disadvantages to running low-profile tires:

  • Bumpier Ride: Low-profile tires put less space between your vehicle and the road, so your suspension system is left responsible for absorbing the shock. However, you can configure your suspension system for low-profile tires and eliminate the roughness, noise, and potential damage
  • Wheel Damage: Low-profile tires offer much less cushion between your wheels and your rims as well as the road. Hitting a pothole with regular tires can be uncomfortable but hitting them a low-profile tire can cause significant damage from a bent rim to a punctured tire
  • Deflation: While low-profile tires don’t necessarily go flat more often than regular tires, they are known to deflate more quickly if you do have a flat tire. They require less air so there’s less air to lose if the tire becomes punctured.
  • Poor Grip on Irregular Surfaces: Low-profile tires are not designed to perform on irregular surfaces due to their simple treads. Gravel roads, snow, and ice can all be problematic

Should I Put Low-Profile Tires On My Vehicle?

Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of low-profile tires, as well as how they differ from regular tires, you’re probably still wondering if you should have them installed on your vehicle.

From a practical viewpoint, low-profile tires are not an ideal choice for most drivers. Most of us drive at controlled speeds or on highways that are built for high speeds in cars with regular tires. During our day-to-day lives, it’s unlikely that our commute involves sprawling stretches of beautifully paved roads.

However, if you own or are looking to own a leisure vehicle for Sunday road trips or a twisting adventure through the nearest mountain range, low-profile tires are perfect for maximizing your driving experience!

When you are considering putting low-profile tires on your vehicle, look at where you will be driving and what the road conditions are like. If everything lines up and you can easily accommodate low-profile tires, go for it!

How Low Can You Go?

Tires have a huge impact on how your vehicle drives, including traction, handling, fuel economy, and safety. Park Muffler is dedicated to helping you get the most of your vehicle – especially when it comes to tires. Our team can help with their many years of experience in all aspects of tire care.

If you’re still curious about whether or not your vehicle could benefit from low-profile tires, don’t hesitate to contact us today! Our expert team of technicians can help guide you through ensuring that your car operates at peak performance while having the look you’ve been dreaming of. Let’s chat!


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