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Dutchess_III's avatar

Can you educate me on high profile v low profile tires?

Asked by Dutchess_III (44140points) May 22nd, 2017

I’ve tried to read up on the internet, but I find conflicting information. I now know what it means, but I have several questions:

We just bought an Escalade. I love the rims, but Rick says they have low profile tires on them. He said it makes for a rougher ride than high profile. However, on the internet I read that low profile tires make for a smoother ride. Seems to me like the high profile tires would make for a smoother ride. So which is it?

Also, can we put high profile, 20” tires on the existing rims, or do we have to buy all new rims? We have 17” tires now.

Anything else you want to share with me about tires would be great.


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23 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Ride is determined by un-sprung weight. Tires and rims weight to vehicle weight, the lighter the weight of rims and tires the better the ride. Low profile are neutral ride up to a a point about 40 any lower profile than that will cause rims pinching and harsh ride.

Rims any smaller than original may interfere with braking system. (True on one of my vehicles)

The high profile tires may not fit because the overall diameter will not fit in wheelwells and your speedometer will not read correctly also the rim maybe too wide for the high profile tires.

Federal law will not allow to switch to lower speed rated tires from original.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t quite understand “Low profile are neutral ride up to a a point about 40 any lower profile than that will cause rims pinching and harsh ride.” 40 what? Rims pinching what? What causes the harsh ride?

That answered many of my questions, better than I expected. I realized I had those same questions rolling around in my head but I couldn’t quite pin them down because I don’t know about this stuff. Thank you so much.

I WANNA KEEP THOSE RIMS! I told Rick I wanted to get tiny, round, stick on LED lights to put in the little round, decorative dents in the rims.
He just looked at me.

MrGrimm888's avatar

When you have a larger rim size, you have less sidewall on the tire, usually….. Sidewall being the distance/rubber between the wheel/rim, and the edge of the tire.

The less sidewall, the better control. But it is in exchange for comfort.

Larger sidewalls have more give.

Larger sidewalls are better for smoother ride, and can help give a slightly wider footprint.

Smaller, more for street performance.

So. You might see a 15 inch rim with a 28 inch tire, on a suv, or jeep.

But on a car, or street vehicle you night see a 17 inch rim, with 25–26 inch tires.

Also. Consider the ply of the tire. The more the ply rating, or layers of rubber/metal, the stiffer the ride will be…

Most car companies seemed to move towards bigger rims, with lower profile tires (“low pros,”)in the last 20 years…

Dutchess_III's avatar

Awesome @MrGrimm888. That makes perfect sense. I would really rather have the smoother ride, but I want to keep the rims. I guess I need to ask a tire expert about it.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Yeah. Make sure that the tire you select will have enough clearance to turn in the front wheel wells too.

The back tire measurement is misleading. The front tires have to pivot left, to right. If they’re too big, they’ll rub or worse when turning.

Good luck:)

Dutchess_III's avatar


You like my LED lights idea?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Dutchess_III In my area LED’s on rims are usually on “Pimp Wagons”. You would probably be propositioned at every stop light.

Low profiles tend to cost a lot more than high profile; also have a higher speed rating ^^^^ my comment above that is where the Feds come in.

What happened to the original rims and tires? ? ?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t know what happened to them. It’s a 2005. Guess the original owner swapped them out.

Yeah, Rick looked at me like Michelle Obama looked at Trump when I mentioned it, so I think LED lights are probably out. The rims alone are pretty flashy.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Well. It’s your vehicle Dutch. Do what you want with it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it’s Rick’s too! He said we can keep the rims, even though he wanted to go back to original rims. It’s called compromise.

I was joking about the lights, BTW. I am fully aware it would make it look like a pimp mobile.

MrGrimm888's avatar

You only live once Dutch. You can rock that pimp mobile if you want to.

But yes. Compromise is important.

kritiper's avatar

How high or how far the center of the wheel assembly is to the road affects your engine performance and how your speedometer reads. Whatever rims you use, be sure to maintain this correct distance for proper speedo readings, engine performance and cornering/handling effects.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Yrah. Good call. A tire size different from factory will cause the speedometer to be off. Check it by riding next to a car that you know is calibrated correctly.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL @MrGrimm888! I don’t really want lights on my rims! I’m just yanking Rick’s chain. I do want the rims though. We have a friend who is an expert in the tire industry. Rick plans to chat with him soon.

Also, I think the speed police factor in that not every car is spot on accurate with their speedometer. That’s why they will allow you about 5 mph on either side of the speed limit before writing a ticket.

It’s been helpful. Thanks guys.

kritiper's avatar

@Dutchess_III Here is some info about tire sizes:
The first 2 numbers have to do with tire width as compared to the height of the tire. For example, I have 215/70R 14 tires on my car. The first number (215) has a lot to do with the height between road and rim. The second number is the series type, which refers to width. So my truck has a relative width which is a 70 series. In the old days of bias ply tires, you would usually get a 80 series tire, which is fairly narrow. Then there were 78s, 70s, 60s, 50s. Now days there are probably 65s and 55s and 45s. The lower the number the wider the tire.
The ideal tire for my car is a 215/70R14. A 205 tire is a little shorter and a little narrower. A 225 is a little taller and a little wider than the rim from bead to bead. (The bead is where the tire seats on the rim, or wheel.) The 215 is just right in width, and the speedo reads properly with that height.
The “R” stands for “radial” tire
The last number is the rim or wheel size. Mine are 14” wheels. You cannot put a 13” tire on a 14” wheel, and you can’t put a 15” tire on it, either.
Using stock wheels (steel or alloy) can be handy if you’re out in the boonies and you somehow break a wheel and need a replacement. Stock wheels would be easier to find, or at least a replacement, like a steel wheel, that will get you by until you could find a used or new stock alloy wheel. Finding a replacement for fancy, expensive wheels could be impossible, and you might find yourself having to buy all new wheels and tires at premium prices.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

You may have to get a second mortgage for the rims I’ve heard they are over a grand for originals. ;>)

Dutchess_III's avatar

See, no way! No way! But I’d be willing to sell the fancy ones we have and just get regular rims and make a profit to boot!

I’m wondering why they can’t make a tire with an ID of, say, 14” for at 14” rim, but with an OD of 20”? Or 17”? Or whatever?

kritiper's avatar

@Dutchess_III Reducing wheel weight helps with fuel economy. Usually, with large disc brake rotors, a larger rim size might be needed, but nothing over 16” is my guess. 20” is ridiculous unless you drive a five ton truck with something like 295/75R20s as a standard tire/wheel.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I would rather sell them. Buying tires will be expensive, and (as mentioned above,) if you damage a rim it’ll be hard to replace…

A local rim shop, or pawn shop might swing you a deal. If you aren’t going to use Craigslist or something….

You might could find a set of old factory rims in a junkyard for cheap…..

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@kritiper 20” rims are required on my Ford SHO to clear the disc brakes. My other car has 17” rims also to clear the disc brakes.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The tires on there now are P275 / 55R20.

kritiper's avatar

@Tropical_Willie Will wonders ever cease??? (And I did say “USUALLY.”) Go figure!

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