Low profile tyres: advantages and disadvantages

  • Author: OPONEO.CO.UK

Each car is equipped with a tyre size recommended by the manufacturer. However, thanks to the wide range of products available, drivers can choose the size that best suits their needs.

Some choose to change the width of the tyre profile for aesthetic reasons, while others want to make a difference in terms of driving comfort.

If you want to find out which tyre replacements you can use for your car, please use our size calculator.

Tyre profile

The tyre profile, commonly referred to as model height, is the distance from the end of the rim to the edge of the tyre. It is also one of the formats that determines the tyre size, next to the width and diameter of the rim.

All the attributes that make up the size are related, which means that if you want to change one of the parameters for a given car, you have to adjust the other parameters as well. This is due to the need to maintain the total wheel diameter (wheel height), provided by the car manufacturer.

How do I calculate a tyre profile?

A low-profile tyre is a model where the side height from rim to road is relatively small in relation to its section width.  The tyre profile is not an absolute value, but it is a combination of width and height.

Example: In the size 205/55 R16 the number 55 is otherwise 55% of 205.
According to the formula, the sidewall height of a 205/55 R16 tyre will be less than 225/55 R16. In the second example, the overall diameter (total tyre height) will also be automatically higher).

Low profile tyres - what does this mean?

A low-profile tyre is a model where the side height from rim to the road is relatively small in relation to its cross-section width.

"Low-profile" tyres are usually used as original equipment in medium and higher class vehicles, especially in sporty cars, with greater performance.

Low-profile tyres are also popular with car tuning fans, who take advantage of the possibility to enlarge the rim. This makes the vehicle look more sporty. Over the years, the concept of "low profile" has changed its meaning, or rather the dimensions, which are included in this concept. Even in the 1970s every model with a profile below 80 was treated as small, nowadays the dimension 55 is no longer considered as low.

The 205/55 R16 is now becoming one of the most popular tyre sizes in Europe, it is widely used for mid-range cars and very often occurs without a rim protection rank, making it no longer considered a low-profile size.

Please note the direct relation between height and width. The 185/55 R15 models, of which the actual sidewall height is much lower than the 205/55 R16, are much easier to consider as low-profile tyres. We may consider 55-50 series or less to be  low profile tyres , depending on the width. They are usually equipped with a protective rim edge.

What are the lowest series values for such tires?

The ETRTO (European Tire & Felicity Manufacturers) Standards from 2009 define as the lowest series of 20, namely size 375/20 R21. However, during the North American Sema trade show, Nexen and Kumho showed the world's first 15 series tyres.

In the case of Nexen, it is the N3000 model size 365/15 ZR 24, while Kumho presented the Ecsta SPT KU31 size 385/15 ZR 22.

jaguar with low profile tyres

Low profile tyres are often used in high-end, sporting vehicles.

Low profile tyres - advantages

A low profile is often associated with the use of larger tyre width and rims, and this can positively affect the behavior of the car on a dry surface both during braking and cornering.

The low side also means more stiffness, which is a particularly valuable feature in the case of dynamic driving on winding roads. Low-profile tyres also provide better "contact with the car", the driver has more control over the car and is able to better predict its behaviour. Side tilts are also much less noticeable.

The most visible advantage of using low-profile tyres is to increase the visual appeal of our vehicle.

low-profile-2-08

The Kumho Ecsta is an example of a very low profile tyre.

The advantages of using low-profile tyres include an improvement in the appearance of our vehicle, and in combination with a large-diameter rim gives the wheels a more sporty character.

One of the most important advantages of using low-profile tyres is their behaviour when cornering.  They give a sense of stability to the vehicle compared to tyres with a high profile.

Unfortunately, the driving comfort is noticeably reduced when using such tyres. They dampen noise and vibrations to a lesser extent, and special care must be taken when driving on uneven roads.

Paweł Skrobisz
Technical Department Manager

Low profile tyres - disadvantages

The pressure in low-profile tyres cannot be too low because the tyres become more susceptible to damage of any kind.

Be especially careful when crossing the curb, for models with a low profile this can damage the chassis components.

We also increase the risk of damage to aluminum rims, and the protective edge of low-profile tyres will not save us from damage if we fall into the hole on the road.

low-profile-4-08

Many owners choose low profile tyres, but they need to consider the correct tyre pressure.

Another factor that also accelerates wear and tear is the driving style of the driver and the nature of the vehicles on which they are used. Tyres of this type are often fitted on sports cars, where the manufacturer, in order to meet customer expectations, focuses on a high level of adhesion, and this is at the expense of faster wear.

The chassis and suspension of the vehicle must be properly adapted to larger rims and tyres, which are less likely to amortize unevenness. Otherwise, low-profile tyres will cause all suspension components to wear more quickly.

In addition, if the wheel height is changed by 5 mm, an adjustment of the vehicle light settings will be required.

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