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How many times have you noticed a car running with those cool wheels and tyres that look larger than the standard ones fitted on your car? Chances are quite a few times, so we thought we'd shed some light on your rubber doubts.
Also Read: 10 Tyre Facts To Know — It's Important!
What you're seeing on these cars is an aftermarket modification, that of the fitment of bigger rims and low profile tyres. These tyres are 'thinner' than conventional tyres and thus allow for bigger wheels to be installed in the same wheel well. However, while these tyres certainly look the part, there is more to know about them before rushing out and purchasing a set for your car.
How To Read Your Tyre Size
Every tyre has details of the size of the tyre along with other information. For now, let's focus on the size. In the example alongside, the tyre size details are 305/30ZR19 and can be read as follows:
30 —The profile or aspect ratio of the tyre (read further for more)
Z —The speed rating of the tyre (here rated ‘Z' for above 300 km/h)
R —Radial construction
19 —The diameter of the tyre in inches
What Is A Tyre’s Profile?
The profile of a tyre is the depth of the sidewall, or the height of the side of the tyre, which is expressed as a percentage of the tyre's width. In our example (the 305/30ZR19 tyre), the profile or aspect ratio of the tyre is an extremely low 30, which means the tyre's sidewall depth is 30 per cent of the 305-millimetre width. Aspect ratios of low profile tyres usually begin from 60, moving downwards as the sidewall gets narrower.
Advantages Of Low Profile Tyres
Apart from doing wonders for the looks of your car, low profile tyres offer greatly improved levels of handling and grip, especially in the dry. Your car will also brake much better, with a wider contact patch (the area of the tyre in contact with the road) that provides greater traction than a conventional tyre.
Low profile tyres will benefit your car's cornering characteristics by being able to handle greater cornering forces (CF), and steering performance sees a marked improvement as well.
Disadvantages Of Low Profile Tyres
Possibly the biggest disadvantage of low profile tyres in an Indian context is the high susceptibility to tyre and rim damage, since these tyres have a smaller air cushion to work with to absorb harsh impacts from our pothole-ridden roads. Road noise also increases with these tyres because of the larger contact patch, and the ride of your car can become much stiffer.
One also has to be much more watchful in the rain, since cars shod with low profile tyres offer less resistance to aquaplaning (when the water on the road forms a layer between the tyre and the surface of the road, leading to the car losing traction and skidding). Fuel economy also takes a hit, and last but not least, these tyres are expensive, costing much more than standard tyres.
Important to know!
Key to remember is car makers allow for a maximum increase of three per cent of the original tyre size. Any further upsizing and it will actually take away from the aforementioned handling advantages because the wheel well will not be able to accommodate the oversize tyre.
One can often notice tell-tale signs of damage like chipped rubber on these upsized tyres since they end up scraping the sides of the wheel wells.
In case you feel we've missed something here or if you'd like to share your experience with low profile tyres, do drop a comment below.