Low Profile Tyres
Tyre profiles have changed considerably in recent years. What was once reserved for high-end cars has now become accessible for mainstream vehicles in an effort to increase vehicle performance past the standard manufacturer's specification.
Whether you already know you want lower-profile tyres or are simply considering a tyre upgrade, this article will help you decide. Keep reading to learn more about the pros, cons and our top recommendations for low profile tyres.
What are low profile tyres?
If a tyre has a low profile, the tyre's sidewall is shallower than usual and needs to be fitted to a larger diameter wheel.
Unsure whether your car already has a low profile tyre?
The size of your tyre sidewall is recorded on the sidewall itself as part of a string of numbers representing the tyre's overall specs. An absolute value does not represent the tyre profile - instead, it's a combination of the width and height. For example, in size 205/55 R16, the profile is 55% of 205.
What are the benefits of low profile tyres?
If driving means more to you than simply getting from A to B, low profile tyres may be the way to go. They can improve your car's braking and cornering behaviour into the higher performance category. A low profile tyre can boost the most mundane drives to exhilarating moments while remaining confident and safe. Some of the advantages include:
- Improved cornering: The lower profile causes the tyre to become stiffer than taller, high profile tyres. The shorter sidewalls mean the car doesn't roll and bounce around as much, which leads to better grip and effectiveness of the suspension at stabilising the vehicle around corners. This is a particularly crucial feature of high-powered, dynamic driving on winding roads. If you're a person who loves to take corners fast, then low profile tyres are for you.
- Better car handling: With greater control over the car also comes better "contact with the car" as the driver decisions are readily translated onto the road. It becomes less of a commuting vehicle and more of an experience.
- Aesthetic appeal: low-profile tyres are put on larger wheels so that the overall diameter of your car's tyres and wheels stay the same. This leads to a sharper aesthetic look.
What are the shortcomings of low profile tyres?
If you're considering changing your car's tyres, you should also consider the potential downsides. When it comes to low profile tyres, the main three are:
- Driving comfort: Even on the best of roads, you'll often come face-to-face with humps, potholes and other irregularities. Your tyres are the first port of call when dealing with this rough terrain. When you reduce your tyre's profile, so does your tyre's ability to absorb and cushion the shock.
- Faster wear: Low profile tyres provide better grip at the cost of rapid wear. If you're a driver who likes to corner hard, expect fast wear of your tyres.
- Extra cost: These tyres tend to be designed with performance in mind, so they usually have more advanced construction to perform at a higher level, leading to an overall more expensive tyre. Of course, low-profile tyres also need larger diameter wheels - an added expense.
While having a firmer ride can have its downsides, there are things you can do to counteract the negative impacts. By changing your tyre size inch by inch, you’ll feel a much less significant effect on shock absorption. However, if you modify the size by 2-3inches, you'll definitely notice the difference. You can also upgrade your seat cushioning and suspension to reduce ride discomfort.
What are some recommended low profile tyres?
JAX Tyres & Auto recommends the following tyres if you are interested in a quality low profile tyre.
BF Goodrich G-force sport comp 2
BFGoodrich G-Force Sport Comp-2 is for those looking for next-level control and next-level fun on the street. An internal structure features a reinforced construction that delivers increased responsiveness, control and durability, and profound control in hard cornering.
Michelin Pilot Sport 4
Michelin Pilot Sport 4 is an all-round high-performance tyre designed, so you fall in love with driving for the sheer pleasure of the journey. The dynamic response technology ensures optimum transmission of steering instructions on the road. Its ultra reactive tread patterns adapt continuously to the road for an optimised footprint. It has an optimised new mix compounded to provide excellent wet grip and braking.
Bridgestone Dueler HP sport
The Bridgestone Dueler HP Sport focuses on delivering outstanding handling and grip for high-performance 4WD vehicles. The tyre offers class-leading wet performance and steering response as well as a head-turning sidewall design that not only provides superior handling, cornering and braking but a noiseless drive.
Continental Sport Contact 6
The winner of the Motor Tyre Test 2018 is the sportiest Continental Sport Contact yet, with construction adaptations and new age tread pattern tech for maximum stability for high-performance cars. The new Micro Flexibility Compound ensures an optimum interlocking between tyre and road surface in wet and dry conditions. This guarantees not only better acceleration around corners but shorter braking distances. It has maximum handling and grip without compromising on safety.
Low profile tyres - are they for you?
Low profile tyres offer the unique opportunity to move mainstream vehicles into the league of high-performance cars. With improved grip, handling and cornering, you're sure to feel like the next F1 driver. But, as with everything in life, the good often comes with a few downsides or sacrifices. In the case of low profile tyres, the reduced sidewalls lead to an increased risk of faster wear, extra cost and a less comfortable ride.
Are low profile tyres worth it?
This is up to you.
If you’re unsure whether low profile tyres are suitable for your driving style, we can help.
At JAX, we offer expertise in a range of tyres and pride ourselves in our ability to find the perfect tyre suited to your needs - book into a JAX Store near you for our expert opinion.
These tyres tend to be designed with performance in mind, so they usually have more advanced construction to perform at a higher level, leading to an overall more expensive tyre. Of course, low-profile tyres also need larger diameter wheels, an added expense.
Low profile tyres make more contact with the road and less sidewall to absorb the noise. As such, the main road noise, caused by air passing through the tread pattern, is transmitted more readily into the chassis and cabin of the car.
Low profile tyres are not necessarily more prone to punctures than regular ones as they have similar compositions. However, if they have a flat, they are more likely to deflate quicker, and the tyre requires less air because they're thinner than a standard tyre.
Furthermore, low profile tyres have a much shorter sidewall, leading to less shock absorption from potholes, curbs, and other road irregularities. This can lead to structural damage to the sidewall, which may manifest as a bulge or bubble within the sidewall. If left unattended can lead to total air loss or puncture when driving.