Low-profile tires do not inherently wear out quicker because of their sidewall height. Most do wear out faster, though, because the majority of low-profile tires are high-performance.
High-performance tires use a softer tire compound that is more prone to wear than an all-season tire. There are all-season low-profile tires, but the majority are summer or performance tires.
Low-profiles are often fitted on sportier cars that can make full use of the handling advantage — and trust us, when you're taking advantage of a car's handling capabilities, the tread will wear out much quicker than you'd expect.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets standards on tread wear ratings, called Uniform Tire Quality Grading System, which also rates traction performance and temperature resistance. These ratings are found on the tire's sidewall. The tread wear rating will give you a rough estimate on how fast the tires will wear. Below is an entry from the Cars.com Glossary on tire tread life, temperature and traction ratings. Use these ratings while tire shopping to get an idea of the tire's overall quality and life expectancy. While NHTSA and DOT sets the standards, tire manufacturers perform the tests.
Tire Quality Grading
The following three codes are part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's uniform tire quality grading system:
Tread wear: Uses numbers from 100 to 500. A tire rated 150 would have 50 percent more mileage than a tire rated 100 if used in the same conditions.
Temperature: Uses letter grades A, B and C, with A representing the best resistance to heat generation and C the least. C is the lowest permissible rating.
Traction: Also uses A, B and C, with A being the best traction — based on wet road use — and C the least.
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