Low Profile Tires
Go low-pro with these handy tips
by Lauren Dierolf
Some say you can tell someone's personality from the look of their car. A flashy, good-looking car generally has a flashy, good-looking driver. While the look of your car and how your tires look is important, remember your tires are the only part of your car in direct contact with the road. This means a well-conditioned engine and everything under the hood are nothing if your tires are of bad quality. Keep the following tips in mind when searching for the right low-profile tires for your vehicle:
- Tread Life: Look for the Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG) rating, which is regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Manufacturers grade their tires under this system, which establish ratings for wear, traction and temperature resistance. As an example, a rating of 125 will last 25 percent longer than a rating of 100.
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- Wet Weather: You need to purchase tires made for wet weather climates if you live somewhere where rain is a common occurrence.
- Speed Rating: Be honest on what you need. You may want to go fast, but think about the roads you're usually on and the speed limits you drive. A sensible decision can save you a lot of money in this area. To help you decide, look for these letters: Q = 99 mph; T = 118 mph; U = 124 mph; H = 130 mph; V = up to 149 mph; Z = over 140 mph; W = 168 mph; and Y = 186 mph.
- Ride Quality: Low-profile tires have stiffer sidewalls, which means improved handling, but will be harsher when you're going over bumps.
- Noise: Low-profile tires tend to be louder than high-profile tires. Keep in mind your comfort level with noise, particularly with highway driving. A good salesperson will be able to tell you which tires are louder than others.
To install the tires once purchased, choose a reputable shop that specializes in high performance tires. Be sure to inspect the tires and point out any issues before driving away.
To care for the tires, clean them and wax them regularly. This will make it harder for the dirt, sand and pebbles to stick in the treads.
Hit the road with the right tires, and enjoy the drive!