How big is your contact patch?

Thursday, July 8, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
Not exactly sure what a contact patch is? It’s the part of your tire that touches the ground while you drive. It's a tire’s footprint. And guess what? It's probably not as big as you might think; that's why we're always telling you to keep an eye on your tires' tread depth. A contact patch is about the size of your hand (times four, of course). Not that big considering the weight and movement that those contact patches must support.

Contact patches are dependent on a tire’s aspect ratio (profile) --  low profile or high profile. For example, low profile tires (at left) have a short and wide contact patch that translates to very responsive handling, stability and traction on dry roads and in corners. High profile tires (at right), on the other hand, are long and narrow. They provide predictable handling, a smooth ride and are great in the snow.

If you feel as though you’re not making proper contact with the road, check to see if the tread on all of your tires is still at an acceptable level by using a coin or a gauge. If you notice a problem, you'll want to consider purchasing replacement tires.

As always, you can contact Tire Rack for help—yep, we're all about contact!

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