Directional tires have a characteristic “V” tread pattern. While this specific tread shape slightly limits the way they can be used, on the other hand it brings a number of advantages.
The design advantage of a directional tire is that it is designed as a unidirectional tire. This means that it has one main direction of rotation. This means that designers do not have to come up with a compromise solution when designing the tread pattern. The tread pattern of a directional tire is optimised for one direction of rotation, which allows the directional tire to perform better than other tread types. On the other hand, the direction of rotation must be monitored when mounting the tire on the vehicle.
Many motorists have directional tires associated with their winter footwear. It is true that directional tread is especially advantageous for snow and off-road driving. The V-shaped arrangement of the rubber blocks helps to excellently drain water and winter slush from under the tire, thus preventing aquaplaning.
Due to good traction and good stability at high speeds, directional tires used to be widely used, especially for powerful and sporty vehicles. Today, however, they are slowly being replaced by asymmetric tires, which have, among other things, better lateral guidance thanks to the stiffer blocks of rubber in the tread on the outside of the tire.
Advantages of directional tires:
- excellent snow and off-road traction
- high aquaplaning resistance
- stability at high speeds
- very good wet performance
- low noise level due to arrow-shaped tread block design
- attractive appearance
Disadvantages of directional tires:
- defined direction of rotation makes them difficult to use
How do I know a directional tire?
Fitting a directional tire:
When mounting a directional tire, care must be taken to observe the direction of rotation. For this reason, the wheels cannot be switched from the right side of the vehicle to the left side of the vehicle at will. In this case, the tire must be removed completely from the rim and rotated.
Improper mounting of a directional tire (not following the direction of rotation) does not result in a significant change in traction or handling on dry surfaces. However, the noise level of a reversed directional tire is significantly increased, which can be seen as a warning sign that something is wrong. The real problem only occurs when driving on wet roads or in the rain. This is when driving with an inverted directional tire is downright dangerous, as the inverted tread direction throws water directly into the centre of the track and aquaplaning occurs.
Of course, in exceptional emergency cases, a directional tire can be used in reverse for a short time. However, it is important to bear in mind that a reversed tire does not have the same adhesion qualities and to rotate or replace it at the earliest opportunity!
As long as the tire matches the dimensions specified in the documentation, the directional tire can also be used as a spare wheel for the service journey. However, a directional tire is not very suitable for this purpose, as it is directional and the tread may be in the opposite direction to the one needed.
You do know that, don’t you?
A directional tire is actually a special form of a so-called symmetrical tire. Learn how asymmetrical and symmetrical tires differ.