Tyre Myths: Do Low-Profile Tyres Improve Handling?

More Grip and Better Response – or Not?

Many drivers believe that low-profile tyres improve safety on the road by providing more grip and better response, especially when cornering. Is this true?

What Are Low-Profile Tyres?

Low-profile tyres have a shorter sidewall or a lower-aspect ratio (height of the sidewall as a percentage of the width of your tyre) than standard tyres. The tread in low-profile tyres is also in larger blocks and made from different specialised compounds.

Do Low-Profile Tyres Improve Handling?

There are two common reasons why you might fit your car with low-profile tyres. The first is that they can give your standard model a newer and sharper look. Shiny, new, large-diameter tyres can spruce up the look of your car, especially if you bought it as used with cheap trims and steel wheels.

The second reason you might wish to fit your car with low-profile tyres is that you have been told they will improve your vehicle’s handling. A word of warning here: while low-profile tyres do offer some handling advantages, these are often exaggerated.

The shorter sidewall does improve the tyre’s response in the initial part of a turn. This improved response gives you the impression that the tyre has more grip. However, after the first part of the turn, the sidewall is not what determines the grip – it’s the compound of the tyre and the tread design.

What Affects Your Vehicle Handling?

  • Tyre Tread

Tyre treads come in many different patterns, and each has its own use. For example, symmetrical tread patterns will give your car high directional stability and low rolling resistance. On the other hand, asymmetrical patterns will give good curve stability, improve handling, and give you a better grip in slippery or wet conditions.

·      Vehicle Type

How the car was designed, and the parts used, will also affect how well it handles. Suspension plays a key role in handling, and different models use different suspensions. Some are better than others. Electronic aids that your car is equipped with can also improve handling by advising you on your driving.

Should You Plus-Size Your Tyres?

It is worth noting that a larger-diameter wheel and a lower-profile tyre will most likely be heavier than the initial tyre fitted to your car. The additional weight can have a negative effect of the suspension and may make your vehicle less safe to drive.

In short, low-profile tyres do offer some benefits. However, the benefits you receive depends on your vehicle. If you are considering fitting low-profile tyres, you should ask for advice at your local tyre shop.

If you are just looking to improve the grip of your tyres, then low-profile tyres are most likely not the answer. While they do have some benefit when you first turn the steering wheel, other factors play bigger roles in your car’s grip to the road.

What Do the Experts Say?

Don’t take our word for it. When seeking advice about the best options for the wheels on your vehicle, consider what your vehicle manufacturer, wheel manufacturers and tyre shop have to say. Listening to the experts can help you see through the misinformation out there and make better decisions when choosing your next set of tyres.

Tyre manufacturer Bridgestone says:

“Low-profile tyres don’t necessarily improve a vehicle’s handling. Factors such as section width, tyre tread design and car type also play a big part.”

Are you considering low-profile tyres? Feel free to contact us to book an appointment or ask any questions you may have.

Keeping your family and fleet safe on the road,

Dean Wood

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