How To Tell If Tires Are Directional

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It doesn’t matter whether they are summer tires, all-season tires, or radial tires. Vehicle tires come in different patterns and designs.

Some are designed to be directional; others don’t spin in any direction. Some tires rotate in only one direction. Others don’t have any particular rolling direction. They can rotate either way.

Whatever tread pattern your car tires come with, you should be able to tell how they spin when you drive. More fundamentally, you should be able to tell if your car tires are even directional in the first place.

After all, the condition of the roads most times informs the kind of tires to install on your car.

You see it every day on the sidewall of your car tires. Your auto detailer scrubs his brush across it each time he washes the tire.

Yet, you do not take note. Ask what it means, you can hardly say anything more than the marks you see. But there’s more to the mark than you imagine.

If you’re keen on learning to tell if your tires are directional, I have the answer here. Let me walk you through so we learn together.

How To Tell If Your Tires Are Directional?

It is simple to tell if your car tires are directional. All you have to do is to look at the mark on the outside sidewall of the tires.

The outside sidewall of a directional tire will have an arrow indicating the direction the tire should spin. In place of the arrow, you may find a chevron.

The arrow often comes with the word ‘rotation’ imprinted on the tire’s sidewall to indicate the direction the tire should spin. The consequence of running on wrongly mounted directional tires can be threatening.

This is why manufacturers of directional tires put the rotation direction indication on the outside tire sidewall.

But just before I explain this further, let’s look at what directional tires are, their meaning, features, and functions.

Typically, directional tires have horizontal furrows around the tread. These grooves form a V shape around the tread. As the tire spins, the groves which form the tread pattern is to redirect water outwards, from the center of the tire.

The resistance of directional tires to aquaplaning is quite high. As a result, the tread pattern of directional tires helps to take water away from the tires. The rate of dispersing water from the tires is faster than you would see with the regular tread pattern.

For your directional tire to spin properly and correctly, make sure they’re installed on the car and wheel. To mount on the other side of your vehicle, you must first dismount the tires from the rim and flip it over.

Before you buy or use your directional tires, be sure that they’re properly mounted on your car. If installed backward or wrongly mounted, your directional tire will lose traction when driving on dry terrains.

Directional tires are also known to reduce road noise. The direction tires are designed with a noise-cancellation feature. So, when you step on your brake pad, the level of noise the tires make is quite low.

Directional Vs Non-Directional Tires: Differences Explained

As I have noted earlier, your tires can be directional, meaning that they spin in one direction. They can also be no-directional in which case their tread pattern doesn’t follow any rotational direction.

Whichever tread design your tires come with, it is still important to know the difference. Ultimately, each of these patterns comes with its perks and these determine how your tires perform on different terrains.

I shall be examining the directional tires vs non-directional tires under the following:


By directional tires, I mean tires that have only a one-directional tread pattern. This kind of tread pattern is designed for the tires to spin only in one direction.

On the other hand, non-directional tires are tires that are not designed to rotate in any particular direction. They can spin in either direction, left or right, or vice versa.


The good thing is that both directional and non-directional tires can perform creditably regardless of the conditions of the road. Although the directional tire is considered to have superior performance, non-directional tires also boast an equal level of performance.

Symbols Of Identification

Non-directional tires don’t have any mark on them due to the freedom to roll in any direction. Conversely, you can identify directional tires through the arrow pattern or chevron imprinted on the sidewall of the tire.

The arrow will point to the direction the tire is intended to roll. Once you don’t see any mark on a tire, it means it is a non-directional tire.

Tread Life

Typically, non-directional tires have a long tread life than their directional counterparts. The science behind this is simple.

You can easily swap your non-directional tires to any hub and on your car wheels. The non-directional tires for the front axle can be rotated for the rear axle, and vice versa.

In the same way, you can also swap the rear tires with the ones in front on the same side of your vehicle.

With the swapping option that non-directional tires offer, you can extend the tread life of the tires. Additionally, with non-directional tires, uneven wear on your tires can be easily minimized and corrected.


When it comes to attraction, car owners love directional tires. Typically, directional tires show more aggression in their look. The tread design is prettier aggressive and ergonomic than non-directional tires.

Maneuverability And Handling

Handling or maneuverability is quite easier if you’re running on directional tires than when you have non-directional tires mounted on your car.

Although the difference in handling is slight, drivers still prefer to go for directional tires. Since the tires will be spinning only in one direction, it is easy for the driver to have a maximum grip of the steering wheel and maintain stability when braking.

All-season Or Summer Driving

During winter, directional tires work better than their non-directional counterparts. This is due to the former’s hydroplaning resistance. Directional tires can direct water away from the tire.

Directional Tires Vs Non-Directional At A Glance

Directional tires Non-directional tires
Rotate only in one direction No specific rotational direction
Performs well only when its rolls uni-directionally Performs regardless of the rotation pattern.
High-speed stability with a solid center rib Great stability but inferior to uni-directional tires
Vintage hydroplaning resistance in the wet season Inferior  hydroplaning resistance in wet weather
Identified by arrow pattern or chevron mark No mark
Slightly better control and maneuverability Low handling and maneuverability
Offer more beauty Attractive, but not as directional tires
Wears more easily Have extended tread life
Make braking pretty easy Braking can be difficult

What If I Mount Directional Tires The Wrong Way?

Apart from tires, anything not done according to laid-down rules often come with catastrophic consequences. Usually, directional tires are meant to rotate in one direction. It’s only when this happens that they can work properly.

Once it is installed or mounted wrongly, the consequence is poor performance. So, when you drive in wet or wintry weather conditions, the tires will disappoint and won’t be at their best performance.

Besides, if your directional tires are not properly installed, they will easily and prematurely wear and tear. The tread life of the tire will be shortened, leading to a short lifespan of the tire.

The third consequence of improperly mounted directional tires is excessive noise. There is no point in having a tire that makes too much noise on your car.

In fact, directional tires are not engineered to make noise, and unless they’re poorly mounted, they will deliver quietly.

Do Radial Tires Have Direction?

Yes, radial tires are designed with a unidirectional tread pattern. Typically, the tread of a radial tire is reputed for great traction and grip with the road.

Once you hit the brake pedal, you won’t hear any sound from the tire side. The noise-cancellation feature of the tires is incredible. The tires also offer enhanced maneuverability, handling, and durability.

By design, radial tires are designed with their plies running outwardly from bead to bead. In some tires, the plies run diagonally from bead to bead. The radial pattern makes radial tires a lot more comfortable and flexible on the road. This way, you can ride comfortably and safely.

Should I Mount Directional Tires?

Yes, there are a lot of advantages when you opt for directional tires. If you’re using a sports car or sports utility vehicle (SUVs), this is the right set of tires you should use.

They feature a special tread pattern that makes high speeds easy and safe. Here are a few other perks that the directional tires boast:

  • Quality maneuverability and handling in the snowy terrain
  • Guarantee excellent traction and grip at high speeds
  • Offer noise-cancellation feature
  • Resistant to hydroplaning
  • Attractive look
  • Long-lasting and endures good mileage
  • Protected against hydroplaning

Are Summer Or All-Season Tires Designed To Be Directional?

Technically, summer tires are not designed to be directional. However, only all-season tires are engineered to work with a directional tread pattern.

The design of all-season tires is such that must rotate in one direction. This way, they will last longer and won’t wear out prematurely.

On the other hand, summer tires can either be directional or non-directional. It means that they can either move in one direction or not move in any particular direction.

This is why all-season tires are the best for drivers and car owners who live in a moderately snowy, wintry, or wet place.

Meanwhile, apart from the directional and non-directional tires, they are other types of tire treads in the auto industry. There is the asymmetric tire tread. This type of tire tread combines the functionality of different tread patterns.

The goal is to create maximum grip and traction when you hit your foot against the brake pedal. Whether you ride in the winter or summer, asymmetric tires powerfully deliver great performance. They can rotate in many directions.

However, the sidewall of asymmetric tires shows how the tire should be installed and where it should spin towards. For snowy and wintry driving, asymmetric tires will be the go-to guy.

There are also symmetric tires. They are more economical but last longer than many of their counterparts. Like their asymmetric folks, symmetric tires can also rotate in multiple directions with continuous grooves and sizes.

Final Words

Passenger car tires can be directional or non-directional. Knowing what perks the directional tires spot will help car owners and drivers make an informed decision.

How much of this background knowledge should you get yourself familiar with? I think you must understand the dangers and benefits of directional tires.

The good thing is that this type of tire does not come with any negativity. Not even many veteran drivers and serial car owners understand that there are directional tires. So, identifying them before buying is significant to enjoying long-lasting tires.