Skip to Content

How Do I Know If My Tires Are Directional? [ Ultimate Guide ]

How Do I Know If My Tires Are Directional? [ Ultimate Guide ]

Knowing whether your car has directional or non-directional tires is important. In case you own a car for some time and are unaware of the nature of your tires, you could find the details in this article.

It’s crucial to know the nature of your tire to ensure high durability, safety, and better performance of your vehicle. For instance, if you are driving in wet conditions, directional tires ensure a better experience. We have discussed how you can identify a directional tire and its perks and drawbacks.

What is a directional tire?

The manufacturers engineer directional tires in such a way that they would roll in one direction. This is important to ensure safe driving during wintry or wet conditions.

When you have directional tires, they can seamlessly evacuate the accumulated precipitation on the road and evacuate the same with proper mounting.

However, if you happen to mount a directional tire in the wrong way, you shouldn’t expect to deliver the desired benefits. Rather, improper mounting might lead to premature and irregular wear. You wouldn’t like the excessive noise they produce due to improper mounting.

On the other hand, a non-directional tire delivers the same kind of performance, regardless of the direction they rotate in. Also, they perform well in all types of road conditions.

How do I know if my tires are directional?

1. Sidewall readings

The simplest process to determine whether your car has directional tires is to check the sidewall. This part of the tire comes with plenty of information.

The details should also include relevant data on whether the tire is directional or non-directional. Generally, there are two indicators on the sidewalls that you need to check.

Firstly, you will find an arrow that points in the forward direction in which the car moves. Secondly, you would find an engraving on the side walls, saying ‘This Side Out’. If you want to rotate the tire in the other direction, you need to remount it after dismounting in the right direction.

In case the tires are asymmetrical, they would also need the right kind of mounting to the wheels. These tires come with an inside and an outside face.

However, they are different from directional tires. The inside and the outside happen to be the only matters of concern. Also, they might show any direction.

2. Tread patterns

One of the effective processes to know whether or not your car tires are directional is to examine the tread patterns. The tread pattern in a directional tire would be unique, forming a ‘V’ or ‘Y’ shape in the front.

However, in a non-directional tire, the tread pattern in a directional tire would go towards both directions partially. So, the way one mounts the tire on the car is not much of a concern in these cases.

The tread patterns in directional tires are distinct and point to one way. Typically, you would notice the tread flow that gives an impression of a rolling direction.

The tread blocks come in a ‘V’ shape, proving to be good heat dispensers. These treads can easily eject water. Also, the large tread block at the center ensures that the tire remains stable and rigid when you drive at high speeds.

Are Car Tires Directional Or Non-Directional?

Exploring the contemporary automobile market, you can purchase both directional and non-directional tires. The term unidirectional tire refers to the directional ones, while symmetrical tires are the same as non-directional tires.

Directional tires have ‘V’-shaped treads pointing to the center of the tires, which are absent in non-directional tires. Also, in directional tires, you would find the words ‘This Side Out’ on the sidewalls.

The manufacturers engineer directional tires considering a particular orientation of the sidewall, showing the direction they travel. However, you won’t come across any arrow in the opposite direction.

To ensure optimal performance, you must mount the tire in the recommended way. Proper mounting ensures better performance when you navigate snowy, wet, or dry roads.

Due to the asymmetrical design of unidirectional tires, they are suitable for the front and rear wheels of cars and 4×4 vehicles.

Both in cold and hot temperatures, these tires deliver a high level of grip. These tires come in handy in wet conditions where the chances of hydroplaning are high.

Symmetrical tires, non-directional tires, or bias ply tires have plies of an even number across the tire, running from side to side. Besides, the angles that the tread forms are all equal. Here, you would mostly come across arrow-shaped tread designs.

The side which is up doesn’t matter, and you can mount non-directional tires in any way. Compared to directional tires, these tires come with a longer lifeline. Vehicles that come with limited-slip differential systems have non-directional tires.

What are the advantages of Directional Tires?

  • Better visual appeal: With directional tires, your car would look sportier and give a better visual appeal.
  • Quiet driving: When you have uni-directional tires in your car, you would experience quiet driving. These tires won’t produce too much noise on the road.
  • Better handling: You would benefit from better traction when navigating through snow or mud. This would elevate your driving experience and control significantly.
  • Good traction: With unidirectional tires, you can enjoy better traction even when accelerating to high speeds with your vehicle.
  • Impressive mileage: Directional tires give you better fuel economy, particularly when you drive on wet terrains. Your car would remain secure against aquaplaning.

What are the disadvantages of Directional Tires?

  • Issues with tire rotation: The most prominent drawback of directional tires is that you won’t be able to rotate these tires just like the traditional ones. So, one has to rotate the tires from front to back or vice versa. If you want to rotate them on the opposite side of your car, you must dismount them first and remount them again. Next, you can install the tires on the desired side. Most car owners don’t have the necessary machinery to carry this process out.
  • Proper installation is necessary: You need to install directional tires properly. The arrow mark must be in the same direction in which you travel, or the tires roll.
  • Uneven wear: If you install these tires incorrectly, they would wear away faster and unevenly.

Is it possible to mount directional tires backward?

Mounting directional tires backward would deprive you of the benefits of these tires. This implies that the traction would be quite ordinary, and you won’t be able to handle your car better under slippery conditions. Also, if the tread on your tire is low, mounting them backward would prove to be dangerous when you consider the traction.

When you own a car, you must be aware of the importance of regularly inspecting the tires for wear.

You can get them rotated quite frequently with symmetric tires and enhance their lifeline. However, when you have directional tires, this is not possible. Drivers who prefer a high level of traction generally go for directional tires.

In case you mount your directional tires in the wrong way, the level of traction would be low in both dry and wet conditions. Besides, damaging the tires would nullify the warranty of the manufacturer since you failed to mount them in the right direction.

Some tire manufacturers believe that mounting directional tires backward can inflict the vehicle with damage.

How does the direction that the tire faces matter?

The direction in which you mount a tire makes a difference. For instance, you can mount directional tires only in a certain way. You would find the necessary guidance on the sidewalls of the tires.

In case it is a non-directional tire, there wouldn’t be any indication on the sidewalls. So, you can mount non-directional tires facing any direction.

If you happen to mount a directional tire in the wrong way, the plies would expose themselves. Experts recommend not to mount directional tires upside down, in case you don’t find any text facing out.

Mounting directional tires in an improper way would mean that your car would be in a dangerous situation under poor weather conditions. This explains why you must have a professional mechanic mount the tires rather than trying it out yourself.


As a car owner, it’s imperative to know your vehicle’s tires. This choice largely depends on the road conditions around your place. If you want the right type of tire based on the season, you can always go for two sets.

Remember that you would benefit from better traction and grip if you go for directional tires when navigating slippery road conditions. However, you are already aware of the shortcomings of unidirectional tires.