How Tires Affect Car Performance and Handling

November 4th, 2018 by

Performance and Handling


When it comes to establishing a car’s performance, the engine is considered to be of utmost importance. Most drivers want to find out significant info about the torque of the engine, the horsepower, the transmission, and so on – as these are believed to be directly linked with a vehicle’s performance.


And while these definitely matter, tires are just as important, when it comes to a car’s optimization and handling on challenging road conditions. Aspects such as wheel diameter, as well as tire size, directly impact how your car behaves on the road.


And this makes total sense, as your tires are the only parts of the car that have direct contact with the road. That being said, let’s have a closer look at how tires affect car performance and handling.


Wheel Diameter

First of all, when shopping for tires, you shouldn’t overlook the overall diameter – that’s because it can really make the world of a difference. The wheel diameter is actually the first number on the tire – and it ranges from 14 to 22. So, is a larger diameter better or not?


It’s as simple as this: the larger the wheel diameter, the more stability you enjoy on the road. Additionally, a larger diameter allows you to control your car’s braking – which also facilitates better stopping power. Many drivers are into bigger wheels because they are more aesthetically pleasing. This applies especially in the case of sports cars.


There are some drawbacks worth mentioning, though. For one thing, bigger wheels are exposed to bending, not to mention that they make roads bumpier, which can be quite inconvenient. Why is that? This happens because the sidewall is thinner.



Moving on, the tread width is an element of critical importance. Generally speaking, wider tires are all about providing optimal traction and performance. While this applies in some cases, it isn’t a truth universally acknowledged.


Instead, you must think of the tire width in connection with your car’s suspension. That is to say, if your car’s suspension isn’t modified, getting wider tires might jeopardize your safety on the road. That’s because it will make it more difficult to handle when the roads are challenging. More specifically, you could find it difficult to steer, not to mention that your wheels could react unexpectedly to changes in the road conditions.


This is why, when you’re in the market for tires, you shouldn’t overlook the scrub ratio of your car. Ideally, you might consider asking a professional’s advice, if you are uncertain.


Rigidity in Connection with Longevity

The tire’s rigidity matters a lot when it comes to how tires affect car performance and handling. Essentially, the tire can be soft or hard. Typically, softer tires are known to rank high in terms of grip. Hence, if you were to choose softer tires, the steering response should be better. That is to say, you will enjoy excellent traction and braking capability.


Nevertheless, the main downside is that soft tires aren’t as durable in the long run. In other words, they are likely to wear down faster. Concurrently, on rough terrain, they are prone to premature failure.


On the other hand, rigid tires may not offer the same level of traction. Still, when it comes to driving on rough terrain, they are much more reliable than their counterparts. And this applies even when driving at top speeds.


However, in order to make the most out of your tires, you should carefully analyze your needs and choose the tires accordingly.


Tire Pressure and Fuel Efficiency

Did you know that your car’s fuel efficiency is directly linked to tire pressure? In fact, insufficient pressure is likely to affect your car’s overall performance on the road, even jeopardizing your safety. It’s as simple as this: if a tire isn’t inflated accordingly, the tread is prone to collapse.


As a result, the vehicle is no longer capable of handling slippery roads or rough terrain. To be more specific, driving on snowy terrains, gravel, debris or during rain can expose you to major hazards. In order to control your car accordingly, you should significantly reduce your driving speed. That’s how important tire pressure is.


This is why, if the tire is underinflated, the risk of premature failure increases. This determines the tire to force more than it should, which makes the rubber to heat up excessively. Thus, the tire materials are due to break down sooner than expected.


Over-inflated tires pose other challenges, though. Your car’s tires should be capable of bending depending on the road conditions. When they are over-inflated, they can no longer accomplish this successfully. This will impair their flexibility, especially in the case of encounters with bumps or potholes. In other words, you’ll really feel each bump on the road. Due to this fact, your tires are also likely to wear down at a quicker pace.


That being said, tire pressure is imminently liked with both fuel efficiency and longevity. A drop in tire pressure can worsen the gas mileage by 3 percent, which is why you should avoid over-inflating or under-inflating your tires. You should find info on this matter in your car’s owner manual.


Tread Depth

Steering response and traction are paramount in assessing a car’s performance on the road. And the tire’s tread depth has a major impact on this. A thicker tread is known to manage more challenging driving conditions and terrains such as sand, snow, mud, gravel, and the list may go on. It’s as simple as this: thicker tread translates into better traction – which can also enhance your stopping time. The thing with thicker tread though, is that it is associated with a noisier driving experience.


All in all, this is how tires affect car performance and handling. So, next time you’re in the market for new tires, make sure you don’t overlook the elements mentioned beforehand. Tires aren’t all about looks, as they impact your car’s optimization on the road more than you might think. The right tires will make you enjoy driving more while maximizing your family’s safety.


Tire Experts

Finding the right tire and knowing how it affects the performance and safe handling of your vehicle is a challenge. If you want to talk to one of our tire experts at Viking Motors you can contact us online or give us a call.