How to Tell If Tires are Directional?

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Directional (sometimes also called unidirectional) tires offer amazing stability especially at higher speeds, so with them, the overall safety and control of the vehicle is improved with them. These tires are also pretty great with wet roads, as they provide ample hydroplaning resistance, clearing water away from its path effectively. But how to tell if tires are directional? And what are the main things to consider? Well, its fairly simple. Let me explain.

Tell If Tires are Directional
Directional pattern are mostly used in winter tires, and they form a V shaped footprint.

You can easily tell if your tire is directional, and there are a number of ways to do so. You can just look at the tread and see if the pattern makes V shaped lugs, check out the sidewalls and see if you can find arrow indicated (directional tires have that), and if you can’t do both, you can just ask a professional like me, but I’m gonna need the tire’s name.

Telling If Tire Are Directional

Directional tires are specifically designed to rotate in one direction only, as they have a V-shaped tread pattern that is structured to channel water away from the tire and provide better traction in wet conditions, as well as highway stability on dry roads.

That’s why they are usually rated with higher speed ratings. (Lean what are these ratings all about:

Let’s see what are some ways with which you can tell if your tires are directional.

Look at the sidewalls

Directional tires will have an arrow on the sidewall, indicating the direction of rotation. This arrow points in the direction that the tire should rotate when the vehicle is in motion.

Moreover, these tires also often have the word “Rotation” or “Direction” written on sides as well, pointing to the direction they are intended to move/roll.

Check the tread pattern

When looking at the tread pattern of a tire, you can tell if it is directional by identifying its shape.

That’s because these tire make a tread design where one half is the mirror image of the other, literally. That’s why they have V, U or Y shaped lugs.

This V-shape is formed by the tread voids, with lugs pointing forward and the grooves meeting at the center of the tire to form the V-shape.

Do directional tires have an inside and outside?

No these tires don’t have a inside, outside written on them. They only have indicators.

These indicators are often seen written as “Left”, “Right” “Direction” with an arrow, or just an arrow.

So while mounting these tires you only have to keep in mind that all tires have the same direction. Meaning, all tires with V shaped lugs face the same way, with pointy side of the “V” facing the forward moving direction.

Pros of Directional Tires

Let me start with the good things about these tires.

Improved traction

Directional tires are very well engineered, and that’s because they get to have a very optimized contact with the road when they roll. Let me explain how these tires offers superior performance on dry, wet and snowy roads.

On Dry

On asphalts under dry conditions, these tires are capable of offering amazing rubber to contact patch from the middle. Basically directional tires have wider gaps in shoulders and as their V shaped lugs come in the middle to meet up, the gaps/grooves becomes more packed up. This provides amazing directional grip for these tires, so get shorter braking distances and faster acceleration.

Moreover, they mostly have a rounded contact patch, so as the tire turns of corners, the load gets shifted very smoothly, allowing for improved handling and stability.

That’s why these tires are typically used on high-performance vehicles, sporty, and luxury cars.

As an example you can check out Michelin Crossclimate 2 (review).

On Wet

On wet roads, these tires are awesome when it comes to water channeling. Their swooping grooves simply slide the water in and out of the tread with minimal effort.

Their rounded contact patch, basically create a pressure balance in such a way, that the water is forced to gush out as soon as possible, as the tire rolls over.

On Snow

These tires having directional lugs with an elongated design. And this allows for effective scooping of the slush and snow which are then thrown backwards, creating forward moving inertia.

The swooping lugs, basically act as spoons and they create a very self cleaning tread overall.

Low Noise

Directional tires are very silent on roads. Let me explain why.

Noise is just air and most of that air comes through the shoulders. Now as directional tires have a very streamlined curving grooves, the air particles coming in don’t hit around on the tread walls, and instead are channeled in a smooth way, in and out of the tire.

So overall, you get a comfortable ride with these tires.

Cons of Directional Tires

Though directional tires are overall pretty great with traction and noise, there are a few drawbacks of these tires as well.


Directional Tires must be installed with the correct rotation, that’s because they are designed to move in a same direction, so you can not just swap the tire on a same axle.

(And even if you wish to do so, you have to take these tires off the rims, and then reinstall them in a way that they are both pointing the same way).


Directional (all-season tires) are generally more expensive compared to other asymmetrical and symmetrical tires. This is because their V shaped design is much more complex than other types.

Moreover, these tires consume more research and development in manufacturing.

Limited lifespan

Directional Tires are typically used on high-performance vehicles, sporty cars, and luxury cars, so these tires are given higher speed ratings. That means they also have a higher value of rolling resistance.

Moreover, these tires generally have a softer compound, which tends to stick on roads with more friction.

Both of these not only contribute to tread wear but also fuel economy (negatively).

Though you can improve tread wear life by these things.


So as the name suggests, directional tires are made for only moving forward, so more specifically, in one direction.

So, you can no just put these tires any way you want, you have to make sure they are all facing the same way. And they can’t face backwards as that would cause for reduced performance, and traction along with even faster tread wear.

That’s why its hard to rotate these tires as well. But for safety, these tires are marked with directions and arrows pointing where these tires are intended to roll.

Though you can easily tell if your tires are directional by just looking at them. The tread should be making a mirror images on each halves containing V shaped lugs.

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