The vast majority of passenger car tires are non-directional, meaning the tread pattern is the same regardless of the direction the tire is mounted on the rim. Some high-performance tires, however, have a specific tread pattern that is meant to face a certain direction for optimal performance. Mounting these directional tires upside down can have adverse effects on handling, negating the benefit of their directional design. Putting the steering tires on your car has a number of advantages and disadvantages that must be considered before making a decision.
Directional tires tend to be high-performance tires, made of performance-oriented rubber compounds, which drive up entry costs. The performance-oriented nature of tires that tend to have directional treads is not an inherent trait of tire design, so their costs tend to be higher than non-directional tires; the price difference could change.
Braking and handling
Directional tires have a tread that maximizes the grip of the tire based on acceleration and braking forces, and how they affect each tread of the tire. Optimizing the start, stop and cornering forces of these tires give them a distinct handling advantage over a non-directional tire, which is built for utility.
Directional tires generally have a deep groove in the center of the tread; This groove is designed to maintain the tire’s maximum contact area with the ground, while separating water or snow from the contact area. The advantage of having this line in the directional tread helps prevent loss of traction in bad weather conditions and particularly dangerous hydroplaning. A non-directional tire tread pattern cannot address these issues on the same level as a directional tire, giving directional tire tread patterns the advantage over adverse weather conditions.
Long term cost
Directional tires must be mounted in the direction of the arrow on the side of the tire, or else the tire advantage is negated. This presents an inherent disadvantage of steer tires; directional tires are limited in terms of rotation patterns. A non-directional tire can turn forward to back and cross, but a directional tire can only turn front to back, with cross rotation totally ruled out. This decreases the life of a directional tire compared to a non-directional tire of equivalent build quality.