How to Tell if Tires are Directional? 8 Important Facts

To ensure performance, safety, and durability, knowing the right type of tire for your car is essential. In this article, we are going to discuss directional tires, specifically how to tell if tires are directional, also called unidirectional.

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Directional tread patterns can ensure optimal driving even in wet road conditions. But to reap the benefits of having a directional tire. You need to make sure that you install them correctly. But how can you tell if tires are directional?

1. How to tell if tires are directional?

Tire manufacturers make it easy for us to tell if a tire is directional or unidirectional. 

You can find the label along with other tire letters and numbers on its sidewall. To tell if it’s directional, you will see the word “rotation” or “direction” along with an arrow that indicates its rolling direction. The arrow is sometimes called the directional tire arrow or directional tire symbol.

2. Why is it important to tell if the tire is directional?

According to Good Year, if you mount directional tires incorrectly (directional arrow pointing the wrong way) you should remount them. Although you won’t experience premature or uneven tire wear treads, you won’t reap the benefit of advantages of directional tires if you install them in the opposite direction.

3. Directional tread patterns

Tire tread is the part of the tire that makes contact with the road. And there are specific tire treads that can help you drive safely in different driving conditions.

The most common is the symmetrical tire pattern which is cost-efficient and comfortable. Further, another tread type found on passenger tires is the asymmetric pattern with water dispersion and snow traction. These two are commonly used on passenger cars.

But we will be focusing on directional tread patterns. A directional tread pattern is meant to rotate in only one direction. Usually, it has V-shape tread blocks which are efficient at ejecting water and great heat dispensers. Also, the large solid center tread block keeps the tire rigid and stable at high speeds.

4. Are directional thread tires better than regular car tires?

Because of the above-mentioned features, the tread pattern is ideal for sports cars and high speeds. Aside from that, they are very quiet when driving and have an attractive appearance. Moreover, unidirectional tires are better for fast-performance cars compared to symmetrical or asymmetrical tires.

5. Disadvantages of directional tires

The primary disadvantage of directional tires is that you can only rotate them from front to back. Side to side rotation will require an extra charge because you have to dismount, flip and mount them again.

6. Proper mounting of directional tires

The special V-shape tread cannot work properly if you mount the directional tires the wrong way.

You already know how to identify a directional tire by locating the directional arrow. To mount them correctly, make sure that the arrow is pointing toward the front of the vehicle. 

7. Directional tires put on the wrong side

As mentioned earlier, if you mount directional tires backward, you won’t get the hydroplaning resistance and other performance driving advantages the tread is intended for.

There will be no noticeable difference at low speed. However, at high speeds, you may feel a reduced stopping distance when you brake. Also, since the V pattern blocks are in the wrong direction, you won’t be channeling any water on wet roads. Finally, you will be driving at a higher noise level.

8. Directional tire rotation pattern

Tire rotations are a great way to achieve even tread wear and maximum tire lifespan. It’s a quick and inexpensive preventative maintenance practice to establish every 5000 to 7000 miles.

Related: How Much Does a Tire Rotation Cost? Top 3 Best Tire Service Centers

You can rotate directional tires in a forward cross pattern or the alternative X pattern.

Can you rotate directional tires? Yes. If your car has the same wheel size, you can use the Front-to-Rear pattern. Alternatively, if the front and back wheels have different sizes, use the side to side (left to right) pattern.

Another option would be to dismount and remount on their wheels to accommodate use on the other side of your car.


The V-shape tread of a directional tire is superior among other tires with different tread types. After reading this article, you learned how to tell if tires are directional. Look at the tire’s sidewall and look for the directional tire arrow or the words rotation or direction.

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