What exactly are low profile tires?
Low profile basically means the distance between where the rubber of the tire meets the road, and where the tire meets the wheel or metal rim. You can imagine an old farm tractor or a heavy cattle truck as having high profile tires, and a sleek sports car as having low profile tires. The correct word to use is sidewall height. Low profile tires have a short sidewall height.
The inspiration behind choosing low profile tires comes down to two important factors, namely appearance and performance.
Lets talk about appearance
Firstly, appearance is an important reason why people choose low profile tires. They look so much more sleek and sexy than standard tires. They make a statement. They say, ‘look at me’. They provide style, they enhance the overall look of the car, they feel better to drive with, and to many people, this is extremely important.
The performance factor
When it comes to performance, it is a matter of personal choice of the driver whether to use tires with a short sidewall height or just use standard tires. Drivers will chose the former version of tires because they provide better handling on the road, and the driver feels a more crisp connection with the road. This is also noticeable when turning corners, since the low profile tires tend to ‘hug’ the road more and provide greater control for the driver. There is a greater response through the steering wheel which is a pleasure to many people whilst driving.
Their popularity can also be attributed to the greater stability they provide. This is because the treads and grooves on the tires are closer together which eliminates any smooth patches. These smooth patches are what wear out quickest, therefore it is a common occurrence that tires with low profiles have an improved tread life, and wear much better and last longer.
Because there is less rubber used in these tires, naturally the weight in these is lower, which means the vehicle has an overall reduced weight, which improves the momentum of the vehicle. Also because less rubber is used, they are generally less expensive than standard tires. It is also fact that low profile tires rotate faster than standard ones, which can have an impact on fuel consumption, (consuming more fuel), however it is possible to modify the drive train to accommodate the changes in the revolutions per minute (RPM). For more detailed information you should look at low profile tires pros and cons.
How to fit low profiles?
When considering whether to fit low profiles, there are a number of other aspects that need to be taken into consideration. Firstly, what is the size recommendation of the tire for the vehicle? Vehicles are designed to take a specific tire size only. And what about the optimum inflation pressure of the tire? Each vehicle has been designed to withhold a maximum weight, and its axle systems can’t take any more than this. Will using different tires compromise this in any way? Is the vehicle going to be continually used to transport 6 – 10 people? What is the tire load capacity? Is the vehicle designed for rugged handling or smooth handling?
These are the sorts of questions that need to be answered correctly. This is where an expert in the knowledge of tires is able to advice correctly depending on each individual situation. It comes back to the saying, that ‘one size does not fit all’. There are a variety of factors that have a direct influence on whether using low profile tires are the best option. As well as that, when making the decision to use low profiles, one must be aware that it is not advisable to mix low profile tires with standard tires, that there has to be a complete set of four, of one type or the other.
It’s also important to consider the down side of using low profile tires. Whilst these are few in numbers, it removes any future disappointment once fitted with the tires. Often because there is less cushioning between the road and the actual rim, this causes a greater bump when hitting any potholes and such like on the road. The suspension needs to do more work to absorb the shock. This can result in more acute wear and tear on the sidewall as it is pounded more, by these bumps.
Also low profile tyres are less suitable when driving in snow.
However these matters sink into insignificance as soon as we begin to enjoy the great pleasure of driving with low profile tires.