Low profile tires are certainly an attractive option because the thinner rubber lets your rims stand out more, but there’s a reason they’re not commonly used outside of high powered sports cars.
We’ve gone ahead and broken down the ins and outs of low profile tires, including their most ideal use cases and how to get the most out of them.
Are Low Profile Tires Bad In Rain?
Low profile tires are usually a lot wider than standard tires so they can generate better traction and grip on road surfaces. This also means they’re better than standard tires when driving in the rain, especially if they have a directional tread pattern. These types of tires are rigid so they’re less effective when driving on uneven road surfaces as we’ll discuss further below.
Aside from this we’ll cover more about low profile tires, including when they’re better, how they perform in different conditions like snow, how long they last and more!
Do Low Profile Tires Hydroplane Easier?
When it comes to hydroplaning, what it boils down to is the amount of tire that’s in contact with the road.
Regardless of whether you’re using low profile or regular tires, a larger tread width is more likely to hydroplane than a narrower one.
A low profile tire and a regular one with equal width have the same chances of hydroplaning.
Are Low Profile Tires Bad In The Snow?
You shouldn’t use low profile tires, or regular ones for that matter, in the snow because they’re not meant for those conditions.
Snow tires with studs and snow chains are adapted for use in the snow by breaking through it to provide a stronger grip to generate more traction.
Due to low profile tires’ width, they spread out the force as opposed to focusing it in strategic points so they can’t break through the snow and the car ends up driving on top of it with noticeably worse handling.
Are Low Profile Tires Better?
A satisfactory answer to this would come down to how and where you intend to drive your vehicle.
Low profile tires are meant for high-performance drivers as they have a low aspect ratio (i.e. they’re thinner) so they generate low rolling resistance, resulting in better handling, cornering and fuel efficiency.
They achieve this by having thin sidewalls which means that they’re not meant for heavier loads, which could be anything from a small family to cargo, because this will wear them out a lot faster.
A tire’s sidewalls also absorb a lot of the shock when you’re driving, so low profile tires will usually have a bumpier ride than regular ones.
Low profile tires also have a noticeably larger tread width than regular tires, and this provides better grip and improved handling at high speeds on smooth roads.
This becomes a liability when driving on uneven surfaces because a wider tire means a larger share of it doesn’t make contact with the surface, and this will impact handling.
Low profile tires are better for top performance drivers who use smooth roads, drive and corner at high speeds, and don’t transport anything close to a heavy load. Unless this is you, you should probably stick to regular tires.
Are Low Profile Tires Louder?
Low profile tires have less of a sidewall than regular tires so they’re often made harder to somewhat compensate for the lost strength and protection.
This makes them more rigid and you’ll notice they’re louder when driving than normal tires.
As mentioned above, sidewalls also act as shock absorption components, so when they’re reduced you will definitely have more noise when driving.
Are Low Profile Tires More Prone To Flats?
There is currently no evidence to indicate that low profile tires are more susceptible to flats or punctures than regular tires, but they will lose air and become flat faster if they do get punctured.
This is because their narrowness means there’s less air to lose in the event of a breach in the rubber.
However, the narrower sidewalls should be taken into consideration when you’re using low profile tires because, if they’re overworked, they could be what takes your rubber out of service.
Are Low Profile Tires Expensive?
Low profile tires are usually more expensive than regular tires, not because they’re better or special, but mainly because they have less demand.
Manufacturers of low profile tires have to keep their prices high in order to justify production costs, which are usually close to the more in-demand regular tires.
Are Low Profile Tires Safe?
If you don’t overwork your low profile tires with heavy loads, driving on uneven or unsafe surfaces like snow and ice, then low profile tires are just as safe as regular tires.
Are Low Profile Tires Good For Towing?
We’ve established that low profile tires have narrower sidewalls that aren’t meant to handle great weights, so you shouldn’t use them for towing.
How Long Should Low Profile Tires Last?
Like regular tires, low profile tire mileage varies by model, but you could get anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 miles (24,000 to 48,000 km) with the widely available ones.
Can I Replace My Low Profile Tires With Regular Tires?
You can replace your low profile tires with a set of regular tires but you have to ensure you get ones whose outer diameter matches the one on the originals.
If you can’t get ones that fit this description, it’s safe to install something within a 3 percent positive or negative variance from the original.
Since the new tires will have a different inner diameter, you’d also need to replace the wheel or rim during the process.
Low profile tires provide better grip on road surfaces even in rainy conditions because they’re wider, and they have the same chances of hydroplaning as a regular tire with the same tread width.
This grip is most noticeable on smooth pavements; low profile tires give you less stable handling on more uneven surfaces like when you go off road.
They are primarily meant for high performance drivers, such as those with sports cars, in urban settings but anyone else would have a worse ride with them.
They aren’t meant to carry heavy loads because their sidewalls are thinner than regular tires so they aren’t as strong.
Low profile tires aren’t more susceptible to flats or punctures on their own, but it’s best to keep an eye on the strain you place on the sidewalls.
Low profile tires are more expensive than regular tires because they’re not as commonly used by the average driver.