What Are Non-Directional Tires? (Differences, Benefits + More)

Whether you’re rotating your tires or trying to mount them, to begin with, knowing whether the tires are directional or not is essential.

All tire types come in either non-directional or directional. Each type has its pros and cons. Keep reading for everything you need to know about non-directional tires.

What Are Non-Directional Tires?

Non-directional tires can be rotated in any direction without sacrificing performance, as opposed to directional tires that can only be used in one direction. Typically, these tires last longer since they can be cross-rotated. However, they don’t perform as well in water as directional tires and may have poorer handing in general.

Of course, there is a lot that goes into choosing non-directional tires or not. Below, I’ll explain everything I’ve learned.

How Do I Know If My Tires Are Non-Directional?

Directional tires can be identified by an arrow on the sidewall. Conversely, non-directional tires can be identified solely because they do not have this marking.

Therefore, figuring out if you have directional tires or not is pretty straightforward. You just look for this marking! If it isn’t there, then your tires are non-directional.

Directional vs. Non-Directional Tires

Directional vs. Non-Directional Tires

There are quite a few differences between directional and non-directional tires.

By definition, directional tires have a tread design that is meant to work in one particular direction. On the other hand, non-directional tires have a tread design that works in both directions.

No matter what way you put a non-directional tire, it will perform equally as well. While choosing between these two types of tires may seem straightforward, each has pros and cons.

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Generally, directional tires have a superior performance in the water. Usually, their tread is designed to channel water away from the center of the wheel, providing more grip. Conversely, on-directional tires don’t have this same design.

Along the same vein, directional tires also tend to have better handling and performance.

In many cases, the tread has been engineered to provide maximum grip in that one direction, while this isn’t the case with non-directional tires.

However, the biggest win for non-directional tires is tread life. Because they can be switched to opposite sides of the vehicle, they last much longer than directional tires. Furthermore, uneven wear is much easier to deal with as well.

How Do You Rotate Non-Directional Tires?

Because these tires work in any direction, you can rotate them using the cross pattern.

In other words, you move the wheels from the front to the back or vice versa and switch the side they are on.

When done properly, this sort of pattern can seriously extend the life of your tire, since all the treads will be used equally.

Furthermore, if you don’t use the cross pattern, then you aren’t taking advantage of this major benefit that non-directional tires have.

Truthfully, non-directional tires aren’t useful for anything but their extended lifespan. However, you need to rotate them correctly for this to come to fruition.

Can You Mount Non-Directional Tires Backwards?

Can You Mount Non-Directional Tires Backwards?

Because these tires are literally non-directional, there really isn’t a “backward”.

These tires perform equally as well in both directions. Therefore, you can mount them in whatever direction you want.

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Generally, mechanics will switch the side of the car the tire is on during rotations, which helps ensure that the tread lasts longer.

Therefore, most non-directional tires will be placed “backward” during their lifespan at some point.

However, you cannot run directional tires backwards. As their name suggests, they are designed to run in one particular way.

If they aren’t mounted in this direction, it can be potentially dangerous.

Are All-Season Tires Non-Directional?

You can find tires of all sorts that are both non-directional and directional.

For instance, summer tires can be non-directional or directional, just like winter tires and all-season tires. Generally, the type of tire doesn’t dictate the tread pattern.

With that said, most all-season tires are directional. If you’re set on non-directional tires, you can find them, though. In many cases, you may just have to look a little bit longer!

Are Directional Tires or Non-Directional Tires Better?

Are Directional Tires or Non-Directional Tires Better?

For the most part, it depends on what you’re looking for!

In many cases, directional tires have better handling and performance. In wet conditions, they perform much better and lower your chance of hydroplaning significantly.

However, non-directional tires often last much longer. They can be cross-rotated, which means that they can be switched to the other side of the vehicle.

In many cases, this helps their tread be worn down evenly, increasing their lifespan.

Because directional tires can only be placed one way, they tend to wear down faster.

In the end, it mostly depends on what you’re looking for and what’s available at your current tire dealership.

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After all, this shouldn’t be your only parameter for choosing tires. In most cases, there will be plenty of other considerations going into the decision as well.

Are Radial Tires Non-Directional?

Generally speaking, most radial tires are directional. In other words, they are only made to go in one direction. However, that isn’t necessarily the case with all radial tires. In some cases, you can find non-directional radial tires.

Of course, you can always check and see if your tire is directional or not by looking for the little arrow on the sidewall. Even if you have radial tires, you should double-check that they are directional.

When rotating radial tires, it is essential to know whether they are directional or not.

To know more, you can also read our posts on when you should rotate tires, how much does it cost to rotate tires, and how long will tires last with bad alignment.

Conclusion

Non-directional tires are designed to be used in both directions. Usually, they are cross-rotated to ensure that the whole tread is being used. For this reason, they often last longer than directional tires.

However, they tend not to handle water quite as well. Many non-directional tires also have poorer handling in general, since their tread isn’t specifically designed to roll in one direction.

For the most part, the main selling point of these tires is their longevity.

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