What is a Contact Patch? Your Car’s Footprint.

Contact Patch


We’ve all walked along the beach, through the mud, or maybe stepped in some paint, and what’s left behind is our footprint. Just like you, your car also has a “footprint” but it’s called a contact patch. It’s the portion of your vehicle’s tire tread that makes contact with the road surface. Surprisingly, the contact patch of most tires is about the size of your hand. But why is the contact patch important?

The performance of a tire is significantly influenced by the shape of a tire’s contact patch and is dependent on its profile or what we call, aspect ratio. Many performance tires are considered low profile tires and have a short and wide contact patch. (Think ExtremeContact Sport 02 and ExtremeContact DWS06 Plus.) This helps convert the driver’s input into cornering stability, responsive handling and traction…especially in dry conditions.

Light truck and passenger tires are viewed as high profile tires. (Think TerrainContact A/T and CrossContact LX25.) These tires have a long and narrow contact patch which helps provide predictable handling, a smooth ride and notably good traction in the snow.