Whether you’re looking to improve performance or you just want to change up the look of your car, low profile tyres can be a great option. However, it’s worth understanding what they are and how they may affect the handling and safety of your vehicle. So let’s have a look at some of the pros and cons of low profile tyres.
What are low profile tyres?
Low profile tyres have a smaller sidewall area than regular tyres, meaning there is less tyre and more wheel. Looking at the wheel from the side, low profile tyres will have a shorter distance from the wheel rim to the tyre tread. In tyre sizing, this “profile” is referred to as the “aspect ratio,” which is the tyre section height as a percentage of the tyre section width.
For example, if the tyre is 175mm wide and the aspect ratio is 65 (or 65% of the tyre width), that gives you a profile of approximately 114mm. The smaller the aspect ratio number, the lower the profile. In general terms, low profile tyres are those with an aspect ratio of 55 or less.
Pros of low profile tyres
There are a number of reasons people decide to change to low profile tyres. Let’s have a look at some of the pros to help you decide if they are right for you.
- The look
One of the main reasons many people decide on low profile tyres is the look. This is very much a preference thing and different people will debate the aesthetic merits. However, if you’re a fan of the look, low profile tyres can add a sporty, luxury or simply a custom look to your car.
They can also help to accentuate a vehicle’s wheels, so if you are a fan of custom rims they may be a good option for you.
- Improved handling
Low profile tyres have a stiffer sidewall to make up for the reduced sidewall height. This makes for less movement in the tyres while cornering and a larger contact area with the road, making for better steering response and a greater feeling of control.
- Improved braking
Low profile tyres require larger rims to compensate for the reduced sidewall height. Larger rims generally mean larger braking hardware, which increases the vehicle’s stopping power. Additionally, since low profile tyres tend to have larger road contact areas, there is more tyre surface in contact with the road, which improves stopping grip.
Cons of low profile tyres
Tyres are an incredibly important part of the vehicle. They play a huge part in the handling, braking and general safety of your car. So any changes made to your wheels and tyres should be properly researched to understand how they will affect your vehicle.
So let’s have a look at some of the downsides of low profile tyres.
- Ride comfort
Higher profile tyres have more cushioning between the road and wheels helping to soften the ride and reduce the amount of work the suspension has to do. Reducing tyre profile can result in a stiffer, bumpier ride. It can also increase road noise and wear and tear on other components like steering and suspension.
- May require suspension adjustments
To account for the stiffer, bumpier ride you may need to have your suspension adjusted and configured for low profile tyres. This is an additional cost that will need to be factored into your decision.
- Increased risk of wheel damage
With less cushioning between the road and the wheels, low profile tyres can lead to an increased chance of wheel damage. The larger sidewall area and greater cushioning that comes with regular tyres can help to protect the wheels if you hit a pothole or curb. With a lower tyre profile, you can increase the risk of scratching, denting or bending the rims.
- Reduced grip on rough roads
While low profile tyres can improve handling on smooth roads, they may have the opposite effect on rough surfaces. The bumpier ride that can result from lowering the profile can reduce road holding on rougher surfaces.
Ultimately, the decision to change up your tyres is up to you. Depending on your vehicle and the type of driving you do, low profile tyres may or may not be a good addition to your car. Talk to your mechanic before you make a decision and understand the risks involved.