Informational Guide

What Are Directional Tires

There are a lot of decisions to make when looking at car tires. Anyone looking to get the best is asking – what are directional tires?  

Are all tires directional, and what happens when directional tires are put on backward? These are all questions we answer in this comprehensive guide.  

Directional tires feature a tread pattern that's only designed to rotate in a singular direction. With these tires, you notice that the lateral channels and voids of the tread point down and forward when looking at them head-on. As a result, the tread appears like two waterfalls coming together and joining to create a "Y" shape. 

Directional tires are also referred to as unidirectional, meaning they are not meant to be used in both directions, but only one. The directional tire still allows for the car to move in reverse; it just isn't meant to be mounted the other way. Unlike other car tire types, the directional tires need to be dismounted and remounted on the appropriate rim to move from one side to the other.  

tire tread wheel

Pros Of Directional Tires (Benefits Discussed) 

  • Very Good Mileage On Wet Roads   
    Directional tires offer less resistance to rolling than standard tires, thereby creating a more efficient ride. Plus, when you are driving on wet surfaces, the water is channeled away better, protecting from hydroplaning, which would cause a drop in fuel efficiency.  
  • Better Protection Against Aquaplaning  
    Water is channeled through the tire tread better when it is directional. As the water gets pushed away from the tire, there’s better handling on the wet road and less chance that the car is going to hydroplane.  
  • Especially Good Traction At High Speeds  
    Directional tires aren’t just good on wet surfaces but also superior on dry roads. Many performance-focused cars use directional tires because of how well they handle, especially when traveling at higher speeds.  
  • Good Handling In Snow Or Mud  
    Directional tires handle a variety of road conditions with ease. Whether you are traveling through mud or snow, you will notice better traction and superior handling. It’s the perfect tire for any adventure.  
  • Very Quiet When Driving  
    There should be less road noise when traveling with a high-quality set of directional tires. In addition, because of the design, there's a better connection with the road surface, creating a quieter ride.  
  • Attractive Appearance  
    Some people feel that directional tires are sleeker and more streamlined in appearance. There’s no question that a good set of tires can change the appearance of a vehicle and make it look more aggressive.  

Cons Of Directional Tires (Downsides Explained) 

  • Can Only Be Rotated From Front-To-Back  
    You can’t follow standard tire rotation procedures with this type. The directional tire must continue moving in the direction it was designed for. Because of this, you can only rotate the tires from front to back on the same side of the vehicle. What happens when directional tires are put on backward? You lose all handling and traction qualities, making the ride more dangerous.  
  • Shorter Tread Life  
    Because you can’t switch sides with the tire easily, the tread is going to wear down faster than non-directional tires. However, you could have them switched if you don’t mind spending the extra to have them mounted on the other rims.  
  • Higher Price-Point  
    Directional tires are going to cost more money to buy, plus you will be replacing them more often. However, if you need a superior ride or drive a high-performance vehicle, the extra money is worth the expense.  
directional car tire wheel

How To Tell If Your Tires Are Directional (Are They Easy To Identify?) 

How do you know if you have directional tires? If you want to know how to tell if tires are directional, you must simply look at the tread pattern. Directional tires form a Y or V-shaped tread pattern as you look at the tires from the front. Symmetrical tires have a tread that goes in both directions, no matter which way they are mounted.  

Do all tires have rotation direction? No, but it’s easy to learn how to tell if you have directional tires. Take a peek at the sidewall of the tire. If it’s directional, there will be an arrow pointing in the direction that the tires should be moving. Additionally, the words “This Side Out” should be clearly indicating which way they need to be mounted. Non-directional tires won’t have either of these signs. 

Are Hankook Kinergy GT tires directional? This all-weather tire is directional, but are all-season tires directional in most cases? Most all-weather or snow tires feature a directional design.  

Are Michelin Pilot Sport 4s directional tires? Contrary to what most people think, these tires are not directional. What about other Michelin tires? Are Michelin Primacy MXM4 directional tires? These are also not directional tires.  

Are Bridgestone Dueler tires directional? These are not directional tires. Are Bridgestone Turanza tires directional? These are also not directional. Let’s look at another popular manufacturer. Are Continental Purecontact tires directional? No, there is no arrow on the sidewall. Are Douglas Performance tires directional? Yes, these are a popular directional tire. If you are ever in doubt, check with the manufacturer.  

Directional Tires Vs. Non Directional Tires Which Is Better? 

What are non-directional tires? These tires are meant to be mounted in any direction and feature tread that can work either way. On the other hand, the directional tire is intended to roll one way, other than when in Reverse. While these tires can provide better handling, especially in low-traction situations, they are going to cost more than the non-directional tire. 

Additionally, the rotation is going to look different. You won’t be able to simply learn how to rotate directional tires and do it yourself. Instead, the tires must be moved to a different rim if you plan to use them on the other side of the vehicle. Directional tires are only worth the extra money if you need more performance or want to increase traction.  

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What happens when directional tires are put on backward? 

While directional tires can be put on going the wrong way, they shouldn’t be. You want the tire to always face the appropriate direction for performance reasons. Having them on backward can decrease traction and negatively affect handling.  

Are all-season tires directional? What about snow tires? 

The majority of all-season and snow tires are directional. With this design, you can anticipate better handling and traction in slippery situations because water is pushed away from the tire with the V or Y-shaped pattern.  

How do you rotate directional tires? 

To learn how to rotate directional tires on AWD vehicles, you can move them from the front and back of the vehicle, as long as they are on the same side. You can’t move the tires to the other side of the vehicle unless you have them dismounted and remounted onto the appropriate rim.  


Now you know how to know if tires are directional and what happens if directional tires are on wrong. Plus, we have shown you how to put on directional tires, so you are ready to tackle whatever is on the road ahead of you.