Depending on where the car will be driven most, the type of tires needs to be chosen for that particular surface.
A four-wheel-drive vehicle will not have the same sets of tires that you’d find on a race car. This is where low-profile tires differ from other types of tires.
Due to increased grip on the road and their sportier looks, low-profile tires are preferred for sports cars.
Traditional tires like those from the factory on regular sedans often come with high-profile tires. The thinner sidewalls of low-profile tires result in better grip and performance on smooth surfaces.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at what differentiates low-profile tires from regular traditional tires.
With that said, let’s jump right in.
Table of Contents
How Are Low-Profile Tires Different?
Compared to regular tires, low-profile tires have tougher sidewalls and a bigger contact area where the tire meets the road or surface. This helps low-profile tires’ grip smooth surfaces or roads better.
Regular tires from the factory are often made to be suitable for a wide variety of road surfaces. Low profile tires on the hand are made suitable for smooth surfaces which are often slippery.
With low-profile tires, the area that comes into contact with the road or surface is often much bigger. This increased size is responsible for gripping the road much better than with regular tires.
You can usually tell the difference between regular tires due to the thinner sidewalls of the low-profile tires. These are more common in racing tires and allow bigger wheels to be used for a better grip on the surface.
One other big advantage with low-profile tires is the road stability the tire offers. Because of its rigid tire sidewalls, the low profile tire gives better stability and handling on the road.
With a larger section on the contact area together with the rigid sidewalls, the tire offers better steering performance.
When compared to regular factory tires, low-profile tires also seem more attractive. A sportier look with improved handling means low-profile tires are preferred.
With that said, low-profile tires are often more expensive than regular tires. This is because manufacturers of traditional sedans and city cars try to minimize the cost of the car.
More stability and handling capabilities of low profile tires also mean they’ll have to be changed out more often than regular tires. More grip with the road will mean the tires get worn out much quicker.
The overall ownership costs of low-profile tires are often much higher than with regular traditional tires. Another quick disadvantage with low profiles is that they are prone to giving a rougher ride than normal tires.
It is best to consult either the dealership or a registered mechanic in order to determine whether your car needs low-profile tires or not.
What Are Low-Profile Tires Good For?
Low-profile tires are great for sports cars and performance vehicles alike. Due to their added grip on the road, they have great performance abilities, especially for racing tracks.
A performance car or sports car usually has a wider stature compared to a normal sedan, for example. A wider set of tires means the car will be more stable and improve handling.
Compared to regular tires, low-profile tires often have a wider contact with the surface. The wider the surface and contact area, the more grip the tire will have on the road.
Added grip with the road also means improved stopping power for the vehicle. Better braking is important for performance and race track driving.
One thing to consider when looking into low profiles for your vehicle is both the cost and safety implications.
Low profiles are manufactured with safety and aesthetics in mind, but they are known to make anti-lock braking inefficient. A compromised anti-lock braking system is not very safe because the vehicle could be deemed unsafe.
Performance cars are often driven on the racetrack with a smooth surface, which is great for low-profile tires. Because of the thinner sidewalls, low-profile tires can make for a ride bumpy.
Due to this often bumpy ride, low-profile tires are often not the best for an everyday driver. Most cars fitted with performance tires are not suitable for everyday city driving or as a daily driver in a car.
Not all vehicles are suitable for a replacement in tires to low-profile tires. You have to keep in mind the overall look of the vehicle together with affordability.
Just like going in for a scheduled tire replacement, one also has to consider the brand preference. Tire brands differ both in cost and quality, which should be taken into consideration.
Pros of Using Low-Profile Tires
When it comes to upgrading vehicle components, it’s best to consider how the upgrade will affect the vehicle. Not all upgrades are necessary and not all will be safe for the type of vehicle.
This is why you’ll have to look up the pros and cons of having low-profile tires. It’s best to draw up a list of pros and cons whilst keeping in mind the type of vehicle you have.
Here are some advantages of low-profile tires:
- Attractive look
- Better stability
- Better braking
- Better handling
- Increased acceleration.
Because they are almost always seen on sports cars and performance vehicles, they are seen to be more appealing. A better look is also why most people go for low-profile tires as a basic after-market upgrade.
The attractiveness of these types of tires is what makes them so appealing for a normal car.
Another well-noted benefit of low-profile tires is the stability of the tire on the road. The contact area where the tire meets the road is much wider.
A wider contact area with the road means the car will have more stability because the tire has more contact with the surface. Low-profile tires are known to be more stable than regular traditional tires.
If you have a car model that is less than stable or has rigid stability, an upgrade to low-profile tires would benefit the car. Small compact cars often have small tires and therefore not-so-great stability.
A normal sedan can also benefit from the stability of low-profile tires. Not only will they increase stability, but they’ll also add more handling capability.
An improved grip on the road also means the vehicle will have better braking capabilities. Better traction means the car will have good braking power.
As seen in performance vehicles, the racing car usually has great braking power. Low-profile tires make this possible due to the tread design, which affords more grip on the road surface.
You can usually see this in racing cars and luxury cars when they are driven in a racetrack. Racetracks can be too smooth for a better grip on the tires. Low-profile tires solve this issue really well.
Due to this increased contact and grip on the road, acceleration is also improved. This is where low profiles really come in handy because a race car needs to reach high speeds quickly.
Cons of Using Low-Profile Tires
As with a lot of components on a vehicle, there are often disadvantages to adding an upgrade to the vehicle. This is also common when you think about which types of tires you want to upgrade to.
High-profile tires that you get with a new vehicle purchase are often just enough to get by. This means they will work quite well with a wide range of road surfaces.
Factory-provided tires will perform normally and offer average handling and performance ratings. Low -profile or performance tires, on the other hand, will provide more grip on the road.
Low-profile tires will also have many of their own disadvantages as they have advantages. The biggest disadvantage that most owners complain about is the replacement and ownership costs.
Because of their thinner layers on the sidewall, low-profile tires are prone to wear out faster than traditional tires.
Here are some disadvantages of low-profile tires:
- Stiff suspension
- Expensive costs
- Shorter life-span
- Prone to damage on uneven surfaces
Low-profile tires often have a tight suspension system. This helps the tires get a better grip on the road and give improved handling and braking power.
A stiff suspension on a car will lead to sportier characteristics both when the vehicle is being driven and also aesthetically.
Stiffer suspension on cars also enhances the driving experience. The driver can feel the road right on the steering wheel as the wheels meet the road.
Another factor that’s often not so welcomed by vehicle owners is the cost of low-profile tires. Compared to high profile and regular tires, low-profile tires are way more expensive.
Because of the increased traction and grip on the road, low-profile tires get worn out way faster than regular tires. The tread design gives better traction, but the rubber is also worn out much faster.
Low-profile tires come in different sizes measured in inches from the rim of the wheel. Higher inch-sized tires are usually more expensive than smaller-sized wheels.
Regular tires that you often find on normal cars are often included in the factory price of new vehicle purchases. So it’s often not an issue when you purchase a new vehicle because the cost is included.
This is also why luxury and sports cars are more expensive than normal cars. The tires are also included in the overall price.
Luxury cars and sports cars alike almost always have low-profile and performance tires straight from the factory.
Due to their ratio from the rim to the surface, these tires are also much noisier than normal tires. Shock absorbers are often the culprit when there is noise coming from low-profile tires.
Added to the cost of the overall tires, you also have to be aware of repair costs. Driving on uneven road surfaces and potholes can damage the tire and rims, resulting in an undrivable vehicle.
As an upgrade to a vehicle that didn’t have low profiles installed from the factory, they can be a great addition. However, it’s important to note that not all vehicles are suitable for a tire upgrade to low profiles.
What Vehicle Should Use Low-Profile Tires?
You can find low-profile tires fitted on luxury sedans like AUDI, BMW, and Mercedes Benz models. They are also very common on performance and race cars that you’d find more on a racetrack than on normal roads.
Generally speaking, most cars should drive just fine with low-profile tires. However, there are some vehicles where low-profile tires should not be suitable.
One such class of vehicle is four-wheel-drive vehicles which are made for off-road driving. Off-road vehicles must have thick tires for better traction on uneven road surfaces.
All-terrain tires are often chosen for most driving conditions and road surfaces. These are different from low-profile tires because of the tread design, which allows grip on a wider range of surfaces.
SUVs and medium to large trucks and sedans are often fitted with all-terrain and high-profile tires.
Performance cars usually have to make abrupt turns at really high speeds. This is much easier with low-profile tires than it is with regular high-profile tires.
Low-profile tires also give a great feeling on the steering wheel. It is a great benefit for performance drivers to feel the road surface at their fingertips.
Is It Recommended to Use Low-Profile Tires?
For a normal daily driver who is used to driving from work and back every day, low-profile tires are not recommended. This is due to increased ownership costs and minor safety issues that come with an upgrade to low-profiles.
If you drive a vehicle that comes with traditional high profile tires from the factory, it is best to keep them. However, if the vehicle will be used sporadically, low-profile tires are great for added handling and aesthetic benefits.
If you go to a good mechanic, they’ll often advise you to keep to the tire size and type that the vehicle came with from the factory.
This is often because manufacturers choose the best tire type for the exact model you have. Adding a different type of tire will often bring up issues within the car.
For example, when replacing your factory-installed tires, the shock absorbers and brakes will also have to be looked at. Not only is this costly, but it can also mess with your vehicle’s dynamics.
Most times, when low-profiles are installed, there has to be a maintenance check done on the entire suspension system. The costs can add up quickly if these components have to be replaced in order to suit the new tires.
With that in mind, most everyday drivers do not really need low-profile tires. However, if aesthetics are in mind and cost is not an issue, low-profile tires are great to have.
What Are the Most Popular Low-Profile Tire Brands?
As with many other upgradeable vehicle components, tires come from different manufacturers. There are many brands to choose from and they don’t all have the same characteristics.
Different manufacturers will have different prices and quality attached to their products. A cheap brand of low-profile is not always the best in terms of quality and safety.
It is a good idea to check manufacturer prices and after-sales reviews from different owners. A good mechanic will also have a list of brands, so you shortlist the brands you want to consider.
Low-profile tires are not only about looks. They can add great dynamics to your vehicle, allowing for quicker response around corners and improved steering.
With that said, there are a handful of tire brands that make quality tires and are also reputable. A quick note to remember is that tires are an investment in value and safety for your car.
Popular Low-Profile Tire Brands
- Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+
- Bridgestone Turanza QuietTrack
- Continental PremiumContact 6
- Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4
- Falken Azenis FK510
From this list, it is apparent that Michelin, Bridgestone, and Continental are the biggest providers of good quality tires. These brands will give the most bang for your buck.
A good brand often means you’ll get value for your money. Having said that, it is also advisable to shop around some more for a great deal.
Vehicles are different and often come with different components and dynamics. A set of tires that look great on a certain car might not be suitable for your vehicle model.
You can often find the best low-profile tires if you drive either a compact car, SUV, crossover, or a sports car.
The cost of the tires will also play a huge role when choosing which brand to go with. This is because you’ll need to replace all 4 tires and a spare as well.
With a list of the best brands in the market, you now have a shortlist to get you started. From here, you can now choose with your budget in mind.