I own two 2008 Ford Fiestas (region UK / Europe.)

The injector seals failed on the first in May last year (parts cost is nothing but labour cost for garage repair is prohibitive, I may try to fix it myself or just keep the car for spares.) Specs are as follows:

Engine 1.4 diesel Tyre 195/50 R15 82V (15 inch rim, 195x50%=97.5mm sidewall)

I acquired the second in June last year (from London, at a throwaway price due to new emissions rules.) Its specs are as follows

Engine 1.6 diesel Tyre 195/45 R16 84V XL (16 inch rim, 195x45%=87.75mm sidewall)

I was unable to test drive this car at speed when I bought it and immediately found it to have a vibration issue at 70mph. I solved this by swapping the front wheels with wheels from the other car (it passed its MOT inspection in this condition - they weren't bothered by the different rim sizes front and rear because the outer diameter is virtually the same.)

Another tyre from the 16 inch low profile set was punctured when leaving a poorly surfaced parking area. I did not notice immediately and had to drive 300 metres on it to a safe spot to install the spare, and found the sidewall to be totally trashed.

A third tyre from the 16 inch low profile set got a slow puncture a month ago. Keeping it correctly inflated has been troublesome. It then developed a vibration issue (solved by swapping with the spare) and I noted some deep cracks in the sidewall. I assume the vibration is a result of the sidewall damage, and the sidewall damage is a result of the poorly controlled inflation.


I am now in a position where I need to get a whole new set of tyres for my daily driver: either the 15 inch set or the 16 inch low profile set.

My first thought would be to get a 16 inch low profile set as these are the originals for the vehicle, and have a slightly higher load rating 84 vs 82 (according to charts this equates to only 25kg weight per tyre difference and I assume it is due to the larger engine.)

I am however concerned by the sidewall damage and vibration issues with these low profile tyres - I do not remember ever having to replace tyres for this reason before, and to have 3 occur in a single year seems rather a lot.

With the regular tyres, I found a visual inspection sufficient to detect underinflation and added air every few months. It seems these low profile tyres are rather less forgiving - harder to visually detect underinflation, and more damage occurs as a result. They are also more expensive. Looks like if I go for them I may need to invest in a home pressure gauge and pump rather than relying on using the air machine at the petrol station.

  • Are low profile tyres more susceptible to sidewall damage and balance/vibration issues?
  • Can I mitigate this by being more vigilant about inflation, or are there other reasons the tyres could be suffering sidewall damage and balance issues at a higher rate than the regular tyres?
  • The difference in profile height between these two sets of wheels is less than 10mm. Is that enough to make a difference?
  • I knew someone having a new Volkswagen turbo Corrado with stock 60 series tires. He suffered tire and rim damage, driving in NYC. He said costs for rims were around $1600. Low profile tires are more susceptible to road hazards but not any weaker than regular tires. The fact that anyone can buy high speed rated tires in any profile shows tire manufacturers dedicated to safety as long as tires aren't abused in everyday driving.
    – F Dryer
    Commented Apr 27 at 21:08

1 Answer 1


On further inspection the tyres with failed sidewalls have "snow" written on the side. They therefore probably failed prematurely as they were snow tyres and hence softer than usual. It's unusual to find snow tyres in Southeast England as we get very little snow.

I have replaced the tyres with new 16 inch low profile tyres to the original spec. I have also invested in a pump and gauge. Before COVID it used to be possible to get free air in my region of the UK at Sainsburys supermarket petrol stations (and pretty much nowhere else) but during COVID the air machines were allowed to fall into disrepair and now they seem to be adding payment devices to them.

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