How Does the Contact Patch Impact Tire Performance?
As the forces on a tire change, the tire contact patch also changes. Using the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire inflation pressure, assures adequate load carrying capacity and optimal vehicle handling and performance. A tire’s optimal contact patch will be achieved when the tires are inflated properly.
Picture an inflated balloon and lightly press that balloon against a wall. Notice how little of the rubber balloon makes actual contact against the wall? Now, press harder, and you’ll see the balloon conform to the wall, flattening a bit to put more rubber on the wall.
That’s the general principle of what happens with a tire; however, the tire is engineered with special compounds and construction reinforcements that help the contact area conform and influence performance in specific ways when properly inflated.
That’s also why maintaining the proper tire pressure – as found on the vehicle information placard typically located on the driver door pillar, is critical for optimal performance of both your tires and vehicle. Note: The vehicle manufacturer recommended inflation pressure often varies from vehicle to vehicle, even though two vehicles may be equipped with the same tire size. The placard may also specify different inflation pressures between tires on the front axle and the rear axle. Additionally, the inflation pressure found on the sidewall of the tire is the maximum inflation pressure and is not necessarily the inflation pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
What’s the Difference in the Contact Patch Between a Performance Tire and a Light Truck Tire?
Different vehicles use different tire sizes and types based on how they’ll be used.