Well-maintained tires are one of your car’s most vital components. Tires determine which terrain your car can handle, the weight it can take, and even what kind of driving conditions your car can best perform in.
A tire might seem like a simple piece of equipment, but they’re intricately designed and come in many varieties. Directional tires require you to mount them in the right direction so that they can perform the best. Here, we’ll cover how to tell if your tires are directional and how to mount them properly.
How Do You Tell If Your Tires are Directional or Non-directional?
Directional tires can best be identified by the arrow printed on their sides depicting the direction the tire should be going when mounted. This arrow should face the front of the vehicle when the tire is installed.
These tires can also be identified with the words “This Side Out” along the side to indicate the side that should face outward. They can also have a V-shaped tread along the center of the tire to indicate the direction the tire should be rolling towards. Non-directional tires, on the other hand, do not have any of these markers. Non-directional tires can then be mounted facing any direction and can be rotated to any side of the vehicle.
Are Directional Tires Better Than Non-directional Tires?
Directional tires perform better than non-directional tires. They work by effectively moving water and debris – which would normally add resistance – out of the way. They have a V-shaped tread that moves debris outward and provides greater traction.
Directional tires get used widely in competitive sports like racing as they handle high speeds well. Reduced resistance also improves fuel efficiency.
What Happens If You Run Directional Tires Backward?
Directional tires are made to run in one direction only. Your car will run fine if you have these tires on backward, but all the efficiency gains turn to hindrance if the tread is run backward.
Since directional tires work by giving greater traction on wet surfaces, then mounting them in reverse would ideally push water to the center of the tread rather than away from the center. This effect will make the vehicle lose traction on wet surfaces, especially at high speeds.
While not much information exists from road tests to determine the dangers of mounting directional tires the wrong way, tire experts explain that these tires can create more road noise and also wear out prematurely.
Can You Run Directional Tires Backward?
Yes, but only in dry weather conditions and not at high speeds. Most people who have tried this do not see any disturbance at low speeds. However, the tires create a greater buzz at high speeds and may have lesser traction than is ideal.
These tires also draw water, snow, and slush to their center rather than away from the center when they run backward. Backward tires can destabilize the vehicle, making it unsafe to drive in snow or wet conditions.
Do Radial Tires Have A Direction?
The radial tires made today are normally directional. While some radial tires are multidirectional, these are an exception. You can identify them with the arrow on the side to indicate the roll direction of the tire or by the V-shape tread pattern in the center of the tread.
What Sets Apart Radial Tires?
Radial tires are set apart by their design. Steel cord plies are installed in the tire at a 90-degree angle to the direction of travel of the tire, or radially, giving the tires their name. These cord plies are installed in the heel of the tire, allowing the tire’s sides to maintain their flexibility. The cord plies are then covered by a belt to give the tires greater rigidity.
The belts used can be made of different materials depending on the manufacturer’s preference. They can be made of polyester, steel, or fiber. These tires are very popular due to their high comfort level and their durability. They dominate the space as the standard design for automotive tires, save for very few specialized spaces like in trailers.
Benefits of Radial Tires
This heat resistance makes them more durable. The design also gives the tires greater resistance against tread damage.
2. Radial tires give greater levels of comfort as they allow more flexibility on the tire’s sidewalls.
They provide more shock absorption from the bumps on the standard roads. These tires also offer more fuel efficiency as they have lesser drag or resistance in movement.
The tread composition also offers greater stability with the ground as it offers a wider footprint. You can also expect these tires to give you a longer tread life.
Can Directional Tires Rotate?
Directional tires are made by the manufacturer to roll in one direction. That means that they can only get mounted on one side of the vehicle to maintain their forward roll. Properly mounted directional tires have the arrow on their side, always facing the front of the vehicle.
Directional tires that do not have this arrow on their side have their center tread designed in a V-shape that should face the front of the vehicle when mounted. These tires can also have words such as “This Side Out” if they lack the arrow marking the direction they should roll. You can, therefore, only rotate these tires from their side of the vehicle.
How To Rotate Directional Tires
You can rotate directional tires so as to help distribute wearing out of the tire. This is advisable as each wheel carries the vehicle’s weight differently. Swapping their positions ensures they get to distribute the vehicle’s weight at different places, having a longer tread life. Directional tires get rotated using a form of rotation called straight rotation.
Straight rotation involves moving the front tires to the rear and bringing the rear tires to the front. The tires should maintain their sides such that the right front tire interchanges with the right rear tire and the same goes for the left side.
When Should You Rotate Directional Tires?
Vehicle manufacturers promote a mileage at which their tires should be rotated. If you cannot find recommended rotation guide in the user’s manual, you can always rotate the tires between 5,000 and 7,000 miles.
Can You Rotate Directional Tires To Different Vehicle Sides?
It is possible to rotate directional tires to the opposite sides of the vehicle where the tires on the right swap with those on the left. The only way that is possible is to have a tire dealer or service center interchange the rims so that the left rear rim gets the tire coming from the right rear rim, and the same applies to the front rims.
Most vehicle owners find that rotation cumbersome and just prefer the straight rotation of swapping front tires for the rear ones.
Directional tires offer added benefits in that they offer greater stability, comfort, fuel efficiency, and handling in wet and snowy conditions. You can tell directional tires by the arrow that shows the direction the tire should roll, the V-shaped tread in the center of the tire, or even the words “This Side Out” that help install the tires on their rims facing the right direction. Multidirectional tires do not have these markings.