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How to Know if You Have Directional Tires: A Simple Guide!

How to Know if You Have Directional Tires: A Simple Guide!

Directional tires should only rotate in one direction. As such, you can’t rotate them from one side of the car to the other. However, you might be wondering how you can tell if you’ve got directional tires?

Directional tires can be identified by the word “direction” or “rotation” that manufacturers print on the tire sidewall. Next to these words will also be an arrow indicating the direction that the tires should rotate.

With that in mind, there are a few other nuances about directional tires to keep in mind. Keep reading to learn more about them and protect your tire investment!

How to Tell if Your Tires Are Directional or Non-Directional?

Identifying directional tires is pretty easy. Usually, you’ll see the words “direction” or “rotation” on the outside of them. Or, you might see a phrase, like “this side out.”

Go and sit next to your tires!

Look closely at the wall of your tire, and see if you can find any labels. It shouldn’t take long for you to find the words we’re talking about.

If you don’t see anything on the outside of your tire, then it may be multi-directional.

Directional tires should only rotate in one direction. On the other hand, multidirectional ones can go in either direction.

You could also check online by looking up the tire model. Most of the time, you’ll find the model number on the sidewall as well.

It’ll be a string of numbers and letters. Using that string, type it into your favorite search engine. You should be able to figure out whether yours are directional that way, too.

If you’ve got non-directional tires, you’ll notice their treads have a different pattern. Instead, you’ll see they’ve got symmetric or asymmetric patterns.

Which Way Do Directional Tires Go?

Now, if you’ve discovered your tires are directional, you’ll want to know how to use them. Since they only rotate in one direction, you’ve got to place them on your car correctly. Otherwise, they won’t last as long.

Typically, there will be some sort of arrow on the outside of the tire. That arrow should point the tire’s rotational direction. Place the tire on your car with the arrow pointing forward.

There might also be a phrase that says this side out on your car. That’s telling you to place that side of the tire facing outward.

Are All Tires Directional?

Not all tires are directional. A lot of them are directional nowadays, though. Directional tires offer better gas mileage, and they tend to last longer as well.

They’ve got a special pattern on their treads. It’ll be shaped like the letter V.

This helps to direct water away from the tire while driving. Because of their design, they can help to improve your traction on wet surfaces.

What Happens if Directional Tires Are on Wrong?

If you place them on your car wrong, they won’t perform as well as they should. Directional tires use their treads to divert water away from their center. This typically improves your performance whenever it’s raining.

However, if they’re not on properly, their treads will work in reverse. Instead of directing water away, it’ll push water toward its center. This could impact your traction whenever it’s wet outside.

You might not notice they’re on wrong right away, though. If it’s dry outside, they’ll perform just like any other tire. That’s why it’s so important to put them on correctly in the first place. Otherwise, you might not realize until you’re driving in the rain.

Are Directional Tires Left or Right?

Because of how they’re built, directional tires can’t go on either side of your car. You have to place them on the correct side for them to work properly!

Their treads shape is meant to face a certain direction. And, they’ll only face that direction whenever they’re on the correct side of your car. If you put them on the other side, their treads would face the opposite direction.

You can tell which side they should be on by looking at their treads. It should look like the letter V, facing away from you. If it doesn’t look like that, they’re not on the proper side.

Can Directional Tire Be Rotated?

Rotating directional tires is a little different than rotating traditional ones. Because they’re only good on one side of the car, you can’t swap left and right.

If you’re rotating them, you’ve got to keep them on the same side of your car. So, take the ones in the front and swap them with the ones in the back. That way, they’ll stay on the correct side of your vehicle.

Swapping them to the other side would reverse the direction of their treads. Reversed treads won’t offer the same benefits in regard to hydroplaning. So, you might lose traction if you’re driving on wet roads.

Do Radial Tires Have a Direction?

Nowadays, all tires are radial tires. They’ve been shown to perform better than non-radial models. However, does that mean they’re all directional as well?

No, in fact, not all radial tires have a direction. Some of them feature other designs. Typically, you’ll see them with either symmetric or asymmetric treads.

Asymmetric treads don’t line up with each other. One side of the tire’s treads will look different than the other side. You can rotate them from one side of your car to the other, though.

Symmetric treads look the same on both sides. And, you can place them on either side of your vehicle as well.

Directional tires are the only ones with a V-shaped tread pattern. These can’t go on either side of your car. So, you’ve got to be careful whenever you’re first mounting them. Otherwise, you won’t get the benefits you’d like from them.

What Are the Benefits of Directional Tires?

Directional tires are popular because of their enhanced traction on wet surfaces. Whenever you’re using them, their treads push water away from the center of your vehicle. So, you won’t have as much of a hydroplaning risk.

By diverting the water away, your car will stay in contact with the road. Simply shunting the water away ensures you don’t lose control of the vehicle. So, it’s a lot safer to drive with directional tires during bad weather.

Also, directional tires might have an impact on your fuel economy. Because of their design, you won’t use as much fuel to go the same distance. If you’d like to save money, you might want to switch to a pair of them.

Everything You Need to Know About Directional Tires

Directional tires have a specially-shaped tread pattern. Because of this shape, they’re better performing whenever you’re on wet roads. Other tires don’t push water away as well. So, they’ve got a higher risk of hydroplaning.

You can tell if your tires are directional by looking at their sidewall. Most of the time, you’ll see a few words somewhere along there. Typically, they’ll say something like direction or rotation. Sometimes, there is even an arrow pointing in the direction they should face.

Because of this, you’ve got to place them on your vehicle correctly whenever you’re putting them on. Otherwise, their treads won’t perform as well as they should on wet roads. You can still rotate them, though. You just can’t take them from the left side of your car and put them on the right.

Other tires feature differently-shaped treads. If your tires’ treads are symmetrical, then they’re not directional. Even asymmetric patterns don’t tend to be directional, either.

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Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!