Low Profile Tires: A Complete Guide

Low Profile Tires

Each vehicle comes with a tire size that’s suitable for it. Manufacturers often recommend this type of tire. Interestingly, there is a wide range of products available on the market. Drivers and car owners can opt for the size of low profile tires they want and suit their vehicles. Here are a few details you must know about low profile tires.

In the early years, low profile tires were mostly seen on sports cars; they improved handling those cars, their performance, and looks. Due to advances in the automotive industry, low-profile tires have crossed from sports vehicles to regular ones.

They can be seen on middle-class and high-end vehicles, giving them a trendy and sporty appearance. Is that all there is to these tires? Not at all. 

What Are Low Profile Tires?

By low profile tires, we mean a model of tires with a small side height between the rim and road relative to the tire’s cross-section width. Typically, low profile tires are used to enhance the greater performance of higher-class cars.

Low profile tires first appeared in the late sixties with the introduction of the P7, which was the first high-performance, low profile tire. Tires come in different forms and sizes; you must know the difference between a regular-sized tire and a low profile tire, especially when purchasing a car or changing the tires in your car. 

Low profile tires are designed with a shorter sidewall or a lower aspect ratio than regular tires. The shorter sidewall improves performance by sharpening the steering response. The tires can be made from specialized compounds and have larger tread blocks and a stiffer and wider apex.

The larger tread blocks the contact area between the tire and the road, which improves its handling and braking. A tire with an aspect ratio of 55 or lower is considered to be a low profile tire. 

Characteristics of Low Profile Tires

With advances in technology, the automotive industry has undergone dramatic changes, especially in tire design. Initially, the term “low profile tires” refers to tires with an aspect ratio of 80 and lower. Now, it relates to tires with an aspect ratio of 55 and lower. Low profile tires are designed with a tread that protects the interior while ensuring a firm grip on the road.

They are also fitted with steel belts, which increases their rigidity and a thick shoulder, which protects the interior from shock and damage. These days, the difference between low profile tires and regular tires can be ascertained by the presence of rim protection; regular tires don’t come with rim protection.

Low Profile Tires Wear & Tear

Low profile tires are admired for their firm grip on the road and their performance. These very characteristics for which they are admired affect the tire’s health, resulting in increased wear and tear. The lower the aspect ratio of a tire, the higher its performance and wear and tear rate because the amount of material between the wheel and the road decreases with aspect ratio.

The car in question, the driver’s driving style, the road users, and the weight of the vehicle’s load all determine how fast the tires will wear out. A bad road filled with lots of potholes will cause a tire to wear out much faster and even result in more serious damage.

Low Profile Tires & Suspension

Car suspensions are designed to accommodate a specific rim and tire combination. If the wrong combinations are used, inaccurate readings will be obtained from the speedometer and odometer; in worst cases, the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) calibration could stop responding, directly threatening the driver.

Great Look & High Performance

People have a couple of reasons they opt for low profile tires. One is the incredible look and high performance on the road. With their increased tread width, low profile tires boast increased contact area between the road and the tires. These features give drivers the chance to handle, control, and brake at will. Besides, the shorter sidewall height helps to improve performance. This way, the height sharpens the response of your vehicle’s response.

Enhanced Cornering 

Low profile tires have higher ability and force during cornering than when you are using a normal tire. When you drive during dry weather, the handling becomes a walk in the park. 

The Advantages: Low Profile Tires

There are a lot of things that benefit from using low profile tires. Low profile tires come with unique benefits that drivers will greatly find interesting. You don’t want to miss out on some of the pros of having a set of low profile tires on your car. 

Let’s look at some of those advantages:  

1. They Require Larger Rims

The low profile tires often involve the use of larger and wider rims, which can positively affect the car’s handling on dry surfaces while braking as well as in corners. If you want to opt for low profile tires, you should bear in mind that handling may be an issue given that you will have to use rims that are wider and larger than normal. 

This is because they have a relatively low aspect ratio (usually lower than 50 aspect ratio) and shorter sidewall compared to normal tires out there. One other thing you will find with low profile tires is that they wider, stiffer tops with larger tread blocks. All of these features make a low profile and require wider rims. 

2. They Are Rigid

Another advantage of using low profile tires is that they are rigid and rugged. With a low sidewall height, you can be sure that your low profile tires come with greater rigidity. This will confer incredibly dynamic driving on winding roads. If you are driving uphill, you have nothing to fear or worry about as you can easily maneuver your way, thanks to the solidity of the low profile tires.

3. Enhance Vehicle Contact

No car owner or driver doesn’t love good tires. With low profile tires, you can be sure that your car will make great contact with the road also provide better “car contact”; the driver has more control over the vehicle and can better predict its behavior. Roll is also much less noticeable. With low profile tires, you have no fear of slipping on a muddy surface. 

4. Improved Car look

The most visible benefit of using low profile tires is the improved look of our vehicle. Everyone loves to see their car in good shape, wearing an incredible look that reinvents classic aesthetics and features.  

The Disadvantage: Low Profile Tires

Low profile tires come with many advantages, but that does not make them immune to some downsides. As a driver, you must be on the lookout for a number of disadvantages that may bear on your vehicle’s lifespan and performance on the road. 

If you decide to opt for low profile tires, here are a highlight of a few of the downsides:

1. Susceptible to Damage

You may not love to use low profile tires if you consider the high level of their susceptibility to damage. The vulnerability gets even worse if you pick low profile tires that front their lowness to the extreme. The low profile pressure of these kinds of tires should not be too low, as these tires then become more susceptible to any damage.

2. Can Damage Chassis

This is another feature you don’t want to happen to your car. The chassis can come at a price that ten low profile tires won’t be able to buy. Therefore, you must take special care of your vehicle, especially when attacking a curb; using low profile models will make this maneuver a hard nut to crack and cause serious damage to your car’s chassis components.

3. Do Not Protect Alloy Rims

If you use alloy rims, there is a chance that they get damaged with low profile tires. We also increase the risk of damaging the alloy rims, and the protective rim of the low profile tire alone will not ensure the safety of the rim when going through a pothole. 

4. Can Accelerate Wear & Tear

Low profile tires are not suitable for all cars. Tires of this type are often fitted to sports cars. they are not designed to fit all types of vehicles. This is minus the incredible advantages of low profile tires. So, their non-suitability to all cars has a way of accelerating wear and tear, which is the driver’s driving style and the nature of the vehicles on which they are operated. the manufacturer of which, meeting the customer’s expectations, relies on a high level of grip, which comes at the expense of faster wear.

The chassis and suspension of the vehicle must be suitably adapted to the larger wheels and the tires that are less effective at reducing road surface defects. In another case, low profile tires cause all suspension components to wear more quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do low-profile tires burst easily? 

There are no clear indices or statistical records to show that low profile tires are prone to easy bursting. Still, a low profile tire will deflate faster if there is any puncturing in them. This is because the tires need less air and are thinner, this means that there’s little air to forfeit if the tire is punctured.

Q: Can I replace my low profile tires with regular tires? 

Yes, you can replace your tires. If your low profile tire compresses your entire wheel and you want to maintain the same tire size, you need to downgrade in rim size. However, you must be cautious not to lose the focus of some of the factors you must consider before deciding on the type of tires you want to go for. The driving terrain, driving style, vehicle model, conditions, and weather conditions are things you must consider.

Q: Are low profile tires good in the rain? 

The direct answer to the question is yes. Low profile tires are a great option when you are driving in the rain. Low-profile tires have bigger tread blocks that enhance traction on dry, smooth surfaces, improving steering. Low profile tires will also provide a good grip on rainy weather. If you opt for this type of tires over the normal type, you can be sure that your driving experience in the rain just gets fantastic.  

Q: What dimension makes low profile tires legal?

You must understand the overall diameter of a low profile tire that meets the legal standards set by the Department of Transport (DOT). Different states have their respective diameter variations. However, low profile tires must be lower or higher than 15mm than the standard vehicle tires. Make sure you stay within diameter limits to avoid running against the law. 

The second thing is that if you alter the diameter, you stand a chance to increase your vehicle’s speed calibration, thereby giving room for over-speeding. The change in diameter will also affect ESC, traction, and ABS.

Final Thoughts

Now you have the complete guide to low profile tires. The next time you want to choose this type of vehicle tire, you have all the details and information you need. You can find the differences between a low profile tire and a regular tire on the side of the wheel. This is where the special markings are applied. In this marking, the tire’s parameters are indicated, thanks to which you can always know whether it is a low-profile tire or not.