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Tire Ratings and Tire Safety

Tire Width Specifications

This three-digit number (P215) gives the width in millimeters of the tire from sidewall edge to sidewall edge. In general, the larger the number, the wider the tire.  When choosing the width of your tires be keep in what kind of driving you plan on doing. It seems natural to assume that wider tires “handle” better that narrow tires.  That is only partially correct, however.  While wide tires handle better in dry conditions they tend to “swim” on wet or snow covered roads.  That means the tires actually lose contact with the road surface which make steering and breaking both difficult and dangerous.  If you have wide tires make sure you adjust your driving accordingly. Conversely if you have narrow tires you should be aware of the diminished cornering and braking levels in dry conditions as compared to wider tires. It should also be pointed out that narrow tires give a quieter and more comfortable ride than their wider counterparts do.

Aspect Ratio


This two-digit number, known as the aspect ratio, gives the tire's ratio of height to width. Numbers of 70 or lower indicate a short sidewall for improved steering response and better overall handling on dry pavement. You may have heard these lower ratio tire referred to as “low profile” tires. These are very popular today and many people equip their cars with them just for the “look” There are some things that are inherited with that look, some of them are advantages but some may be disadvantages as well. Advantages include better cornering and breaking at high speeds. With such a short distance between the road and the wheel, sidewall bending is reduced dramatically which keeps the vehicle more balanced in high performance driving. Conversely higher profile tires sidewalls tend to flex which throws the vehicle center of balance off which can lead to rollovers in quick steering maneuvers. Also keep in mind that low profile tires have a bumpier ride than higher profile ones and keep your vehicle so low to the ground that its undercarriage sometimes scrapes even the lowest inclines.

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