It’s just what it sounds like: The external part of the tire that comes into direct contact with the road, or any other kind of surface you happen to be driving over. We’re not talking about a very large area here. In fact, a typical tire contact patch is about the size of your hand.
Tire contact patch facts
A short and wide tire contact patch, which is usually found on low profile or performance tires, can provide you with more control, corner stability and tire traction.
Longer and narrower tire contact patches are most often found on passenger vehicles. They provide a smooth ride with more reliable and predictable handling, including in snowy conditions.
High profile tires, like most passenger and light trucks tires, usually have a long and narrow contact patch.
Low profile tires typically have a short and wide contact patch, for better performance.
Not surprisingly, the larger and heavier the load on the tire, the larger the tire contact patch.
The more a tire is inflated, the smaller the tire contact patch.