Symmetric, Asymmetric, Directional, Unidirectional - What Does This Mean?

When shopping for tires, it pays to make sure you're getting the right tread design for your driving needs. The three most common tread designs are: symmetrical, asymmetrical and directional/unidirectional. Each tread design serves a specific purpose that will effect driving characteristics and tire rotations.

Symmetric Tread Pattern

A symmetric tread pattern 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 allow using multiple tire rotation patterns. Two of our highest rated all-season tires with a symmetrical tread pattern are the Michelin Primacy MXV4 and Hankook Optimo H727.

 Michelin Primacy MXV4
Michelin Primacy MXV4
 Hankook Optimo H727
Hankook Optimo H727

Asymmetric Tread Pattern

An asymmetric pattern is designed to blend the requirements of dry grip and water dispersal/snow traction where the tread pattern changes across the face of the tire. An asymmetric tread pattern typically incorporates larger tread ribs/blocks on the outboard side to increase cornering stability on dry surfaces by offering greater contact area. This also helps to reduce tread squirm and heat buildup on the outside shoulder. The inboard side usually has smaller independent tread blocks to aid wet and/or winter traction when driving straight ahead. Tires with asymmetric tread patterns allow using multiple tire rotation patterns. Two of our highest rated all-season asymmetrical tires are the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus and Continental ExtremeContact DWS.

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Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus
 Continental Extreme Contact DWS
Continental ExtremeContact DWS

Directional (Unidirectional) Tread Pattern

A directional (also called a unidirectional) tread pattern is designed to roll in only one direction. It features lateral grooves on both sides of the tire’s centerline that point in the same direction and result in v-shaped tread blocks. These grooves increase hydroplaning resistance at high speeds by pumping water more efficiently through the tread pattern. Unless they're dismounted and remounted on their wheels to accommodate use on the other side of the vehicle, directional tires are to be installed 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 vs. rear axle, the tires become location-specific and tire rotation is prohibited unless remounted. Two of our best rated all-season directional tires are the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus and Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position.

 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus
 Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position
Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position

Shop by vehicle to view all tires available for your vehicle and be sure to choose a tread pattern that suits your driving performance and tire rotation needs!



Tuesday, March 19, 2013 by Ed Bogusz

Do asymetrical or unidirectional tires reduce side-to-side tire drift?
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 by Zig

I'm not 100% sure what you mean by side-to-side tire drift, but the most frequently when someone describes this they mean the tires tendency to follow grooves in the road causing the vehicle to veer slightly side to side. In this case the asymmetric tire would be better as the unidirectional is more prone to tramlining. Here is a good article to describe the concept of tramlining:
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 by Dave

can I rotate Bridgestone dueler h/p tires side to side?
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by Zig

The Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport is asymmetric and can be rotated to any side of the vehicle. When the tire was mounted on the wheel the installer just needed to be careful the outside is mounted out but once mounted correctly the tire can move to either side of the vehicle.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by Eric Williamson

Is there a way to know if a tire is unidirectional by looking at the sidewall?
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by Zig

Yes, if the tire is unidirectional there will be an arrow on the sidewall of the tire indicating the specific direction for rotation
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 by Gary

Is there any way to filter search results based on whether the tire is directional or not?
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 by Zig

Unfortunately there is no way to sort by tread pattern on our website.

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