Tire Repair | Columbia, MD | AutoStream Car Care Center

Symmetrical, Asymmetrical, and Directional Tires

Directional Tires? Of Course, They Roll in the Same Direction, Right?

Just when you thought life was easy and that “tires are tires,” your service technician asked you if you wanted to install symmetrical, asymmetrical, or directional tires on your vehicle. Directional? Don’t they all roll in the same direction? Yes, they do, but that isn’t actually what’s meant by that term. For a simple explanation of directional tires and all your tire repair needs, visit the ASE certified technicians at AutoStream Car Care Center in Columbia, Maryland.

Directional Tires Explained

As you might have guessed by now from the information above, there are three broad tread pattern categories–symmetrical, asymmetrical, and directional. The symmetrical tire type is very common and presents the same tread pattern whether you’re looking at the inside or outside tread blocks. Therefore, these don’t require mounting in a certain direction. In contrast, asymmetrical tires have distinct patterns on the inner and outer tread surfaces. Although this is great to certain road conditions, the direction of tire mounting matters. Both the symmetrical and asymmetrical tires are considered to be nondirectional. Thus, directional tires are a category unto their own.

With directional tires, the tread design dictates that it rotates in a single direction. No, that doesn’t refer to the direction the tire is rolling, so yes, you can back up. It does, however, specify the direction of how the tire should be mounted as related to the vehicle. Most often, directional tires are found on high-performance automobiles. Their unique “V” tread allows them to better navigate and cling to wet or slippery roads.

The Simplified Version of the Technical Stuff

Here’s a little “cheat” for telling if you have directional tires and how they should be mounted. The tread will remind you of an arrow. It should point toward the front of the car, indicating which way the tire must be mounted. Your sidewall may show a mounting direction indicator, as well. It’s crucial to take stock of which way the tires should be mounted. If installed incorrectly, the tread will wear faster and will not be as effective at handling wet weather conditions. Also, it’s important that directional tires are rotated properly during your service visit. They can’t be rotated in the same way that symmetrical and asymmetrical tires are. There are rotation diagrams specific to front-wheel, rear-wheel, and all-wheel drive vehicles that ensure the tires are moved, yet continue to be properly oriented.

You can alleviate yourself of the worries about installing and caring for your directional tires, however. If the technical stuff isn’t your favorite topic, take the stress out of the equation by trusting the expert technicians at AutoStream Car Care Center in Columbia.

Written by Doug Grills