Not every tire is made the same, nor do they look the same. Tread designs help play a key role in traction ability, road noise and treadwear. Take a look at available tread designs and how they compare against one another.
A symmetric tread design is the most common and features continuous ribs or independent tread blocks across the entire tread face where both inboard and outboard halves feature the same pattern. Tires featuring symmetric tread patterns can be mounted in any direction and allow for multiple tire rotation options.
An asymmetrical tread design changes pattern across the face of the tire. They're designed to blend the requirements of dry grip, water dispersal and snow traction. They incorporate larger tread ribs and blocks on the outboard side to increase cornering stability on dry roads by offering greater contact area. This also helps to reduce tread squirm and heat buildup on the outside shoulder. The inboard side usually features smaller independent tread blocks to aid wet and winter traction when driving straight ahead.
Firestone Precision Touring (Symmetric)
Michelin Defender (Asymmetric)
Also known as an unidirectional design, these tires are designed to roll in one direction. Their tread design points one way like an arrow or V. These grooves enhance hydroplaning resistance at high speeds. Unless they are dismounted and remounted on their wheels to accommodate use on the other side of the vehicle, directional tires are to be used on one side of the vehicle and are intended to be rotated from the front axle to the rear axle. If different tire sizes are used on the front compared to the rear axle, the tires become location-specific and prohibit tire rotation, unless remounted.
Asymmetric and Directional
Although rare, these dual tread design tires have V-shaped tread grooves that are offset compared to the centerline of the tire. Tires featuring asymmetric and directional tread patterns must be treated as directional tires for tire rotation. However, if different tire sizes are used on the front and rear axle, they become location-specific and prohibit any tire rotation possibilities.
Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110
Pirelli P Zero Corsa System
(Asymmetric and Directional)
To learn more about tire designs, read "Tire Tread Patterns."