Low profile tyres, a car’s finest make-up

Thursday August 26 2021

Low profile, it means that the sidewall of the tyre is shallower than normal. PHOTO /Internet

By Mustafa Ziraba

I know you have heard it before, but it’s critical enough to stomach repeating. It’s also a bit peculiar too that the tyres on a car are the one contact with the road surface.

Think about that for a moment. You can have the most powerful engine, the most sophisticated transmission, the most elaborate suspension, and every other car wizardry known to mankind, but it is not worth a thing if the tyres (and wheels) are not up to par.

In a way, it’s really a bit strange but that is just how the design of the car is.

Rest assured though that tyre technology is at an all-time high and it keeps getting better. In fact, it’s actually quite amazing that great tyres can do wonders for a less-than-fantastic car, specifically low-profile tyres and large-diameter sport rims.

‘Low profile’ describes an especially short sidewall height, or aspect ratio, on a tyre. That is the amount of rubber between the outside edge of the wheel or rim, and the road.

They are also wider than standard tyres, which leads to a broader contact with the road. A narrower sidewall means a larger wheel and a sportier look.


Like many “performance” products used in cars, low profile tyres are a trade-off.

They increase performance and looks, but in the process often decrease the comfort of your ride. You pay a price in ride quality.

Because you have less sidewall, there’s less of it to absorb bumps and potholes we generally encounter driving on a daily basis. So low profile tyres give you a much harsher ride.

Of course if your car was specially designed to have those kinds of tyres then its suspension too is in sync with the same.

Nonetheless in Uganda you will need to replace your shock absorbers sooner than your normal tyre counterpart.

Furthermore, replacement low profile tyres cost an arm and a leg with prices of Shs400, 000 to Shs3m a piece depending on tyre size, where you buy and brand. Many people get their cars from Japan with low profile tyres but soon give in to the normal ones when they have their first chat with the sales people at tyre shops. Also because of the height differential, it goes without saying that low profile tyres do not play well with others. You either put on all four or none at all.

Like them or not, low profile tyres have become standard on many newer cars and are gradually making their presence felt in the family car and SUV lines.

Once a 13-14 inch wheel diameter was the norm, some of the larger wheels used with low profile tyres now top 22 inches. One of the prevalent arguments against low-profile tyres is that with less sidewall, the wheels themselves are much more vulnerable to being bent from potholes and scraping up against pavements.

However, if your tyre deflates, the car’s handling does not suffer as greatly as it would with a normal tyre, the downside with that though being that by the time you realise you have a tyre problem it’s already ruined and beyond repair.