Low Profile Tires and Executive Vehicles

Many of the newer Executive Vehicles, including SUVs, come with Low Profile tires. There are advantages and disadvantages to low-profile tires.

Low-profile tires are all about the tire’s Aspect Ratio.

The Aspect Ratio of a tire is the ratio of the sidewall’s height to the tire’s cross-sectional width. If a tire has an aspect ratio of 60, the sidewall is 60% as high as the tire is wide. 

The lower the Aspect Ratio, the shorter the sidewall. Generally, low-profile tires have an aspect ratio of 55 or less, though this can vary slightly.

As an example, the Mercedes Benz S550 Sedan has 255/45R/19 tires – The first number, 255, in a typical size is the tire’s section width in millimeters, measured from sidewall to sidewall. If I want the tire width in inches, divide by 25.5. Hence the tires are 10 inches wide.

The tire’s aspect ratio or profile is the second number followed by R. (255/45R/19). As we mentioned, this is the ratio of the sidewall’s section height to the tire’s section width. So the Aspect ratio is 45% – the sidewall is 45% as high as the tire is wide. 

You can calculate the sidewall’s section height by multiplying the section width by the aspect ratio percentage. For example: 255 mm x 0.45 = 115 mm or 4.5 Inches.

For example, the Lincoln Navigator Black Label comes with 285/45R/22 tires; when you work out the math, the bottom of the tire is 5 inches or 128.5 millimeters from the road surface.

The last example, a version of the suburban, has 275/50R/22 tires. When you work out the math, the bottom of the tire is 5.3 Inches or 137.5 millimeters from the road surface.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of low profile tires?

The Advantages

  • Improved handling
  • Better braking
  • Increased fuel efficiency
  • Appearance – they look good.

Disadvantages

  • A stiffer, bumpier ride 
  • Rapid deflation: which may lead to damaging the wheels

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