Keeping a low profile: basics of low-profile tires

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Low profile tires

Low profile tires are expensive, and their benefits are tough for everyday drivers to feel. Image: Flickr / neeta lind / CC-BY

When purchasing a new vehicle, the profile of the tires is usually pretty low on the list. The choice of low-profile tires or regular tires can affect your vehicle’s performance and repair costs. Low-profile tires are a popular choice, but you should know what you are getting into.

Defining low profile tires

Low-profile tires are defined not by how they look but by the ratios of the tires. The ratio of the width of the tire to the height determines the profile of the tire. A very low-profile tire will have an aspect ratio of 60 or lower. “Standard” tires have aspect ratios of 65 or higher. Additionally, low-profile tires usually have wider tread — more tread that actually touches the road.

Benefits of low-profile tires

Low profile tires are popular with high-performance drivers because the more tire touching the road, the more grip the tire has. This means on tight corners and at fast speeds, low-profile tires provide better handling. Low-profile tires are also popular because they look sleek. Though the lower clearance created by low-profile tires can get in the way of everyday driving, they remain popular among people who like the racecar look. Professional racing vehicles make use of these benefits of low-profile tires, but under regular driving conditions, drivers often have to be extra careful to avoid bottoming out.

Why low-profile tires may not be a good decision

Low-profiles tire look sleek and fast, but they are not necessarily a good decision for every type of driver. Low-profile tires have less room on the sidewall of the tire, so they are much more likely to get dented or bent by normal driving. Low-profile tires also provide less protection against hydroplaning on ice and snow. Low-profile snow tires are available but often much more expensive. Lastly, unless you plan on driving very fast on a regular basis, the difference in handling can be very difficult to discern.

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0 Comments

  1. CapriRacer on

    A bit of quibbling:

    In the old days, 60 series tires would be considereed low profile, but those are so commonplace nowadays, that I don't think they should be labeled such – and certainly they would not be "very low profile" as in the article, I suggest a bit of a rewrite.

    Also, the term "Aspect Ratio" is used so much in tire literature, that it might be good to define that term, too.

    There can be so much variation between tires – meaning make and model – that tire size,and in particular aspect ratio, has a minor effect on tire properties. While lower aspect ratio tires are directional towards better handling, that doesn't necessarily always happen.

  2. concerned on

    DO NOT ever get these!! I have these on my Mustang and the tires burst A LOT!!! Everyone shakes their head when they see I have low profile and told me these things have such little air that any little pothole, screw, etc will cause them to burst. You have to be super careful and check the air pretty much all of the time and they’re about $200 for each one-new. OUCH Also, since I have speciality rims/tires most of those roadside assistance guys won’t be able to change the tire and not many shops carry these sizes in stock. BEWARE please