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What Are Low-Profile Tires?

By Tire Agent Staff

October 11, 2022

red sports car with low profile tires...

In this guide, we answer FAQs about low-profile tires, starting by defining what low profile means. How long do low profile tires last? Do low profile tires ride rougher? What are pros and cons of low profile tires?

Drivers of high-performance sports cars love low-profile tires because not only do they look cool, but they also grip the road to help drivers handle corners better.

If you want your tires to stand out on the road, you might roll with low-profile tires. These beauties aren't just built to look dazzling. No, they are also made for performance. Here's everything you need to know about low-profile tires and why you might want to get yourself some.

Defining Low-Profile Tires

What are low profile tires? By definition, they have a shallower sidewall than regular tires (so they allow the vehicle to sit closer to the ground), and they tend to be wider than regular tires. 

So, low profile tires vs high profile tires means that a high profile tire has a deeper sidewall; in other words, the distance from the tread that touches the road and the rim is larger than a low profile tire.

Low-profile tires were mainly used on sports cars in their early days. People driving a sleek BMW or Porsche wanted to make them stand out with low-profile tires because they look super sharp.

But looks aren't the only thing these tires bring to the table. They also improve handling and performance. That's because they have a larger contact patch area that provides a better grip on dry, paved roads. Vehicles also stop faster with larger rims and brakes used with low profile tires.

Because low-profile tires offer such excellent performance, you'll find them on more automobiles these days. It's more common for high-class and mid-class vehicles to sport low-profile tires.

High profile tires vs regular and low profile

So, how do you know what a low-profile tire is? The easiest way to tell is by looking at the numbers on the tire's sidewall.

You will see many numbers and symbols on the side of each tire, and they all have meaning. Three numbers deal with size. You might see something like P 205/65 R 15.

The first number, 205, means the tire is 205 millimeters wide, looking at it head-on. The second number, 65, is the aspect ratio. This means the tire's height is 65% of the tire's width. The bigger the aspect ratio, the larger the sidewall of the tire. The last number, 15, is the rim diameter of the wheel that the tire will fit.

It's the second number that determines a low-profile tire. The aspect ratio in this example is 65, which means it's a regular profile tire. If the aspect ratio is 50 or less, it's considered a low-profile tire. If you need help, ask a tire professional, and they'll be able to give detailed specifics.

If the aspect ratio exceeds 50, it's considered a high-profile tire. So, what's the difference, and how do you decide which is better for you? Next we'll explain what the advantage is of low profile tires.

Pros and cons of low-profile tires

We'll begin with the advantages that you'll get with low-profile tires. Here are a few things you can expect.

Benefits of low-profile tires

Improved braking: Because low-profile tires require less space, bigger rims are needed, allowing for the installation of larger braking components. You have more stopping power as a result.

Better handling: The bigger contact surface and stronger sidewalls of a low-profile tire result in more traction and improved wheel response.

Increased fuel efficiency: Low-profile tires with rigid sidewalls and simple tread patterns have lower rolling resistance, which improves fuel efficiency. Something we can all get behind these days!

They look stunning: If you're looking for a set of tires to turn heads, look no further than low-profile models. On the right vehicle, these tires can make all the difference in the world regarding appearance.

Cons of low-profile tires

Now we'll explain some cons with low-profile tires.

Poor grip on uneven surfaces: Low-profile tires' simple treads make them ill-suited for use on rough terrain. Ice, snow, and gravel roads can all be challenging. Are low profile tires bad in rain, or good in snow? They aren't built for that type of driving. If you live and drive in a four-season climate with a lot of precipitation year-round, you'll want to adjust your speed and braking distance to accommodate for such surfaces. 

Bumpier ride: Because low-profile tires leave less space between your vehicle and the road, your suspension must handle the shock absorption. However, you can modify your suspension system to work with low-profile tires to eliminate noise, rough rides and possible damage.

Potential wheel damage: Low-profile tires provide significantly less cushioning between your wheels, the road, and your rims. Regular tires might make it uncomfortable to hit potholes, but low-profile tires can cause severe damage. Hitting potholes could result in everything from a bent rim to a punctured tire.

Faster wear: Low-profile tires, like any performance or sport tires, offer better grip at the expense of quicker wear. The reason is that sporty tires have softer compounds that increase traction. This type of rubber degrades faster and leaves additional debris on the road.

Flat tires: Low-profile tires deflate more quickly when damaged, even though they don't necessarily go flat more frequently than ordinary tires. Low-profile tires use less air; therefore, if the tire is punctured, there is less air to lose.

Speaking of air pressure, do low-profile tires have different requirements? As with all tires, it's critical to follow the guidelines that come with them. Driving with underinflated tires can cause damage to the tire and the wheel. Overinflating can result in tire damage, increased wear and even decreased performance.

Low Profile Tire Brands

Many of today's leading tire manufacturers offer low-profile tires. Here is a sampling, with links to their products. The best way to search, however, is by using Tire Agent's search tool to find your tires. From any page, select Shop Tires and Wheels, then Shop by Size.


Speak with a tire professional for the required air pressure if you can't find the information on your own. They'll be happy to help.

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