Mention low-profile tires and people imagine sports cars driving at 220 miles per hour. While they’re not wrong to have such thoughts, there’s a lot more to low-profile tires and what they can do.
Whether you’re a tire enthusiast or a newbie, you’ll soon discover all that they’re capable of. Let’s break it all down, onward.
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Here’s the answer to whether low-profile tires really make a difference:
With low-profile tires, you get increased acceleration, stability, and much better handling. Simply put, low-profile tires deliver a much more impressive performance on smooth roads. So, when they’re properly used, their increased performance is clear.
How Do I Identify Low-profile Tires?
Before we go any further, you must understand what low-profile tires are and what they look like. They typically have aspect ratios of less than 50%. That is a measurement of their sidewall height relative to their cross-sectional width.
Confused? We’ve broken it down below.
To completely understand what low-profile tires are, you first need to understand how tires are sized. Tires have numbers and letters written on their sidewalls. An example is something like ‘P225/40R18’.
The first number is the tire width in millimeters. The second number, in this case, ‘40’, is the aspect ratio that reveals the sidewall’s height. So the sidewall is equal to 40% of the tire width, and that is 90 millimeters.
The lower the aspect ratio is, the shorter the side wall. Low-profile tires look a lot like donut tires and are great for large-diameter wheels. So if the aspect ratio is greater than 50%, you know your tire is not a low-profile one.
What Are the Benefits of Using Low-profile Tires?
Low-profile tires offer a lot more than just a sporty look. Several benefits come with using low-profile tires and they include:
Superior Overall Performance
Low-profile tires make it easier for any driver to easily maneuver roads, especially paved ones. First, their sidewalls are a lot more rigid than the sidewalls of regular tires because they’re a lot shorter. This sidewall rigidity reduces the “bouncing” effect and gets you your much-coveted stability.
They also have more contact with the ground and this increases their grip on roads. More grip plus more stability makes handling a lot easier.
These tires also deliver better traction and you’ll get faster braking time. We can interpret that to mean a faster response time, which is needed on racetracks. This swift response also makes them great at drifting and cornering, another outstanding feature for race cars.
If you’re wondering, it simply means the tires respond faster to your steering input as you drive. This occurs because the shorter sidewalls allow the wheel movement to affect the tires much sooner.
Less Risk When Deflation Occurs
Their rigid sidewalls again help to keep them running. This is similar to the technology that run-flat tires use. Run-flats tires also have rigid sidewalls that allow them to keep functioning even when they get punctured.
While low-profile tires aren’t exactly as capable as run-flats, they’ll offer more support when deflated than regular tires.
Better Outward Appearance
Low-profile tires have a more appealing look from the outside. Their enormous wheels make them appear like donut tires. This makes it coveted by people who want a classic look on their wheels.
So they complement your car by making it look good.
When Are Low-Profile Tires Recommended?
There are many circumstances where low-profile tires excel or at least deliver above-average performance.
Their ideal environment is still on smooth pavement and flat asphalt. Thus, it is recommended if you’re always driving on paved city roads. Still, if you know you’re going to be encountering potholes or rough roads, don’t use them.
Also, if you frequently go on off-road trips, we strongly advise against using them. They’re not designed for that purpose, so they’re susceptible to damage off-road.
They may do great on road trips (off-road excluded) since you won’t have to keep worrying about your air pressure. This doesn’t mean they’ll last without air (they may even deflate faster because they hold less air). It just means when deflation occurs, they’ll hold up better than high-profile tires.
Most cars today would come factory equipped with high-profile tires. So if yours comes with low-profile ones, it’s recommended that you keep driving with them. You’d also do well to replace them only with low-profile tires too when they’re due.
Are Low-profile Tires Good for Highway Driving?
Many things considered, they’re great on highways. Low-profile tires are also called performance tires and were originally made for sports cars. This hints that they were built to endure the road and highway driving is hardly brief.
We all know sports cars aren’t meant to be driven off-road but on racetracks and racetracks are tire-friendly. Much like highways.
So although low-profile tires will do great on all paved roads, there’s no better place for them than on highways. In the city, they’d be usable but would not achieve their full potential. On highways, however, they’ll show you what they were manufactured to do.
The only place they perform better than on highways is on road tracks.
Do Low-Profile Tires Really Make a Difference?
With all the perks it brings to a vehicle, low-profile tires, without a doubt, make a tremendous difference. However, these differences don’t always have a positive effect.
An example is an effect it might have on your car’s suspension system. Recall that tires are the only contact a car has with roads and using low-profile tires makes cars drive lower. So if your car isn’t designed to work well with low-profile tires, the ride quality will be reduced.
Your suspension system could even develop faults and eventually get damaged.
Do Low-Profile Tires Get Worse Gas Mileage?
Most people don’t understand how tires can affect a car’s fuel consumption. However, as you’d soon realize, some tires are more fuel-efficient than others.
There are quite a few reasons low-profile tires don’t get worse fuel economy.
First, their tread patterns don’t run deep. They brandish some of the most basic tread patterns relative to other tire types. This reduces their rolling resistance and a lower rolling resistance usually means less fuel consumption.
In simpler terms, low-profile tires meet very little obstruction on roads. Their short rigid sidewalls also play a major role in delivering better gas mileage.
Do Low-Profile Tires Wear Faster?
Although they are as durable as a standard tire, low-profile tires may experience faster wear. They owe this disadvantage to their wider treads. So although wider treads provide better grip, they also cause tires to deteriorate quicker.
This is because there’s always more contact with the road and more road contact speeds up tread wear. Furthermore, their excellent traction, acceleration, braking time, and everything that makes them high-performance tires quicken this process.
It is one of the biggest downsides of low-profile tires. It’s also why they may not be suitable for you if you’re on a budget. Under rigorous usage, three years might be enough for you to need a replacement.
Do Mechanics and Car Dealers Recommend Low-profile Tires?
Mechanics will recommend them if they believe that you need them. Still, before you accept any recommendations, you should do your research. You’re the best person to decide what tires to use since you’re more aware of your driving habits.
While choosing, you should also pick performance over appearance. It is way better to be safe than to look good. If you can do both at the same time, that’s great.
You also want to ensure you use performance tires on all axles if you choose to go for them. Using an incomplete set can create disparities in performance, which is bad for your vehicle and you.
Also, while you have them, avoid uneven roads.
Conclusively, vehicular performance is always at its peak when you have the right set of tires. So if low-profile tires aren’t suitable for you and you use them, you’ll not get the performance you need.
That’s why it’s so important to pick the best type for your car.