I've got a set of all-season tires that are 205/55/16 and a set of winters that are 215/65/15 (or 205, I can't remember off hand).

I've found this to be the trend in winter tires, a taller sidewall yet (almost) same outer diameter.

I know a taller sidewall is a softer ride, but are there any cold-weather/ traction advantages to this?

4 Answers 4


The taller sidewall doesn't offer any traction advantages, but it does make it less likely that you'll bend a wheel when you hit a pot hole or curb. This is a common reason to run a smaller wheel and taller tire in the winter. Smaller wheels also tend to be less expensive.

As other answers say, a narrower tire provides some traction advantages in snow.


There is one subtle advantage to a taller sidewall: Slightly lower cornering stiffness. This makes it just a little easier for the tire to not lose traction while cornering.


It’s not the taller sidewall, but the slightly narrower tread to ´cut’ through the loose snow...

The taller sidewall is likely to flex more...

  • Wouldn't a 215 be wider than a 205? Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 15:25
  • Then someone got it the wrong way round : I have a 215 / 16 for summer and a 195 / 16 for winter both on alloy rims. Not sure what was happening with yours then...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 15:29
  • Am I misreading tire numbers? I thought the first number was tire width and the second was aspect ratio. The winters have a 15 inch rim but if I put the tires next to each other the outer diameters are the same Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 15:38
  • 215 is the width, 16" is diameter, both the 15" and 16" can have the same rolling diameter
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 15:43

To piggy back off the other guy, it's the narrower tires that are preferred not taller sidewalls. The narrow tire has more weight per Sq. Inch of tire which increases the traction of the vehicle.

Taller tires or sidewalls might help in that they might be indicative of a taller tire or larger diameter tire+wheel, which would mean they would rotate slower when accelerating which would be more apt to maintain static friction with the road surface (traction).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .