“Low profile“ describes an especially short sidewall height, or aspect ratio, on a tire. That’s the amount of rubber between the outside edge of the wheel or rim, and the road. Shorter sidewalls provide crisper handling and positive feedback to the steering wheel, but also give a rougher ride because of less cushioning between the rim and the road, which sends each bump and road imperfection directly to the suspension. Many people also like the looks of low-profile tires.
All tires have a size code, such as P245/45ZR17, on the sidewall that displays the tire’s dimensions. The aspect ratio is the number following the slash — 45 in the aforementioned code; the smaller the number, the smaller the sidewall height.
You can find low-profile tires on sports cars as well as vehicles with large diameter wheels, such as the Cadillac Escalade with optional 22-inch wheels. Sports cars will use the smaller sidewall height for handling performance reasons, while the Cadillac’s huge tires and short sidewall allow a combined diameter that can still fit in the wheel wells.
See the link below to the Cars.com glossary for a complete dissection of aspect ratio and tire codes.
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