The Influence of Tire Construction on Vehicle Handling and Comfort

The Influence of Tire Construction on Vehicle Handling and Comfor

Tires are the most critical safety features of your vehicle. A worn-out tire is most likely to cause an accident. Similarly, tires are also afflicted with vehicle handling and comfort. While mud-terrain tires will give your vehicle that sporty look, they will compromise a lot on comfort, as they’ll cause your car to shake at high speeds and produce an annoying humming. Moreover, they offer more excellent rolling resistance and compromise on fuel efficiency.

Highway tires, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. They don’t have an appealing look, but they’re the beast in terms of performance on paved roads. Overall, tire construction encompasses a range of factors, including the type of tire, the composition of materials, and the tread pattern design. Each element influences how the tire interacts with the road and responds to different driving conditions.

This guide will teach how tire construction can influence handling and comfort.


Influence of Tire Construction on Handling  and Comfort

Tire Sidewall Height, Tire Diameter, and Impact Absorption

Tire sidewall height determines how well a tire absorbs impacts from uneven road surfaces. Tires with taller sidewalls have more flexibility as they are better able to absorb shocks and bumps you face on the go. Conversely, tire diameter also resembles sidewall height in terms of functions.

Typical diameter sizes include 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, and 22. The diameter is listed on the wheel as a number or letter sequence, like 225/40R18 92Y. The last two digits after r show the tire diameter, which in this case is 15. 

As the tire diameter increases, more rubber will contact the road, which accounts for improved stability and handling at high speeds. The impacts are dampened before reaching the vehicle’s cabin, resulting in a smoother ride experience for the driver and passengers.


Tread Design and Noise Levels

The next and most crucial factor is the tread design. Tires are usually distinguished based on their tread designs. Tread patterns not only influence traction and handling but also play a significant role in determining the level of noise generated by a vehicle. The more aggressive the tread pattern, the bigger the tire, and the rougher the ride. 

The tire tread and noise levels are closely related. Tires with larger tread blocks and deep grooves produce a humming sound due to the airflow between the tread blocks. That’s why mud-terrain tires with aggressive tread patterns lead to a noisy ride. 

On the contrary, highway terrain tires feature a less aggressive look. They have smaller tread blocks with shallow grooves. The airflow in the tread pattern is highly reduced, which accounts for a more comfortable ride. With technological advancements, tire specialists have forged tires out of materials that significantly reduce noise levels. Moreover, differently shaped tread blocks create noise at different pitches that tend to cancel each other out, making it less noticeable to the human ear.


Relationship between Tire Stiffness and Ride Comfort

Tires with softer stiffnesses provide a smoother ride for passengers as they absorb the bumps encountered on the road. The sidewall of these softer tires is more flexible. It can adapt to irregular surfaces and absorb blows from bumps, potholes, and road pavement. Because of that, drivers and passengers feel fewer vibrations and enjoy a smoother, better, and more comfortable ride.

The opposite effect can be seen in tires with higher stiffness levels, as these tend to send road disturbances directly to the vehicle’s suspension system and passengers. Harder tires, however, could provide a better steering response and handling precision, especially during more aggressive driving maneuvers, but this comes with a harsher overall ride experience. The narrower length of the tire sidewalls means they cannot absorb impacts well anymore, which leads to more vibrations and road noise transmission to the vehicle cabin.

Tire companies are always trying to find a good compromise between ride comfort and performance by setting the stiffness characteristics of their tires. The advent of materials and the invention of the latest construction methods have produced tires that provide better grip and stability without compromising ride quality.


Tire Relation Between Width and Aspect Ratio Effect & Handling Capabilities.

Last but not least, we have the tire width and aspect ratio. A wider tire means more contact points with the ground, which accounts for better traction, especially in dry conditions. However, wider tires may increase rolling resistance and negatively impact fuel efficiency. 

Moreover, getting tires that are too wide for your vehicle without modifying the suspensions and other components will also have adverse effects. Too wide tires will make the car difficult to handle and steer. The aspect ratio, that is, how tall the sidewall is compared to the tire’s width, determines the tire’s handling and ride comfort.

Low aspect-ratio tires (for instance, low-profile ones) usually have high handling responses but may be quite noisy and transmit road imperfections directly to the car’s cabin. Nevertheless, the tires with a high aspect ratio could show a smoother ride and better shock absorption, but they can also show more sidewall flex when fast and aggressive driving maneuvers are performed.


Tire Comparisons

Now, let’s shift toward practical information and see how different tire comparisons score on comfort and handling. 


Highway Tires vs. All-Terrain Tires:

Comfort: As mentioned above, Highway tires feature a less aggressive and aggressive tread pattern. They have softer sidewalls and are meticulously designed for long, comfortable rides over paved roads. Moreover, you can expect good shock absorption and minimal road noise from highway terrain tires. If you’re a person who loves comfy rides and has to go on long drives often, highway terrain tires are the most suitable option. 

Handling: All-terrain tires, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. They have aggressive tread patterns and larger tread blocks with deeper lugs and grooves. This makes handling much easier; however, rides could be more comfortable. The larger tread blocks and deeper grooves account for the increased noise of roads. But if adventure is in your blood, you can compromise on that comfort and prefer a thrilling off-road experience.


Performance Tires vs. Touring Tires:

Comfort: Like highway terrain tires, touring tires are engineered with comfort. Long tours become comfy as the softer tire material and tread pattern are constructed to minimize road noise and vibrations. They prioritize a smooth, quiet ride, making them ideal for long highway journeys.

Handling: Performance tires, on the other hand, prioritize agility and responsiveness. They offer better maneuverability and beautiful cornering with stiffer sidewalls and tread compounds optimized for traction and grip. Though this might have the advantage of better road grip, it can also be uncomfortable for passengers, as the road imperfections will be more noticeable.


Winter Tires vs. Performance Tires:

Comfort: Winter tires are engineered to maintain flexibility and traction in cold and snowy conditions. They vary greatly in ride comfort. However, a well-maintained winter tire will produce fewer vibrations and noise. The softer rubber compounds and deeper tread patterns can reduce handling and responsiveness compared to performance tires.

Handling: The performance tire is best when used on dry and warm surfaces, where it can provide sharp responses and precise cornering. However, it compromises ride comfort and often produces more noise at high speeds. Frozen and icy conditions can be problematic since they could lead to safety and traction challenges. The winter tires have the advantage of grip and traction in bad weather, though they may have some loss of handling dynamics.



A tire’s overall construction and physical diameter can greatly influence road comfort and handling. Some tires may give you a comfy ride on paved roads, but they lack the thrill of off-road, and vice versa.

This guide will help you better understand tire construction and its relation to road comfort and handling.