Tires are one of the most important safety and performance features of a vehicle. These specialized tools are the only part of your car which maintains direct contact with the road. This means there is a lot of planning and design put into the functionality of your tires.

Look at your tires, what do you see? A mesmerizing pattern, since performance is key. The design of the tread on your tires isn’t only for aesthetic purposes. The arrangement of cuts into the rubber is done with the purpose of increasing traction, grip and overall functionality. The last time you bought tires, you probably heard terms like “symmetrical,” “directional” and maybe you were introduced to “seasonal tires” or even “all-weather tires.” These tires each gain their classifications because of the tread design they have.

tire tread patterns

Tire Patterns Explained

Most brands of tires use a variety of tread designs for each of the tire lines they produce. These designs are carefully designed to serve different functions. These specializations are what classify tires into different categories. There are four main types of tread patterns on tires:

Directional Tread Patterns

These tires can be spotted by their obvious patterns. The grooves and cuts on these tires go from the edges of the tires to the center, typically in an angled (or “v”) pattern. These tires are better for performance cars.


  • Anti-Aquaplaning – Due to the design of their treads, these tires provide excellent water displacement. This means you’re protected from aquaplaning and you get better handling. 
  • Fuel Efficiency – This design helps with fuel efficiency as they have less rolling resistance.
  • Wet Terrain – These tires perform great in snow and mud.


  • Cannot Rotate – Because of their specific design, these tires work in only one direction of rotation and must be fitted accordingly. 
  • Cost – Due to the rubber compounds used in these tires, this means the tires are more expensive to purchase.

Symmetrical Tread Patterns

This is the most common tread pattern you can find on most tires. This type of tire is easily distinguished due to the pattern of continuous grooves or blocks across the tread. If you flip a symmetrical tire around, it will give you the same tread design.


  • Affordable – Due to this tire being in high demand and large production numbers, the tires are relatively cheap to purchase.
  • Rotation – Because the tread is the same in any direction you put it on, these tires can be rotated with ease.


  • No Water Performance – Since these tires are meant for daily use on dry weather, they lose performance in rainy weather.

Asymmetrical Tread Patterns

Easily noticeable due to their strange pattern. These tires have two different tread designs on either shoulder of the tire. This is because each side serves a different purpose.


  • Handling – Because of their design being for both wet and dry performance, these tires offer a great handling experience on both.
  • Road Noise – Due to the tread design, there is less road noise when compared to symmetrical tires.


  • Tire Life – These tires don’t have a long lifespan, meaning that replacement is needed sooner.
  • Cost – Due to their specialty design and because of low availability, the costs are a bit higher.
  • Specific Sizes – These tires are typically available for wheels which are seventeen inches (17”) or above.

Flow Optimized Asymmetrical Tread Patterns

These tires are a hybrid of asymmetrical and directional tires. These tires have a half “v” design.


  • Aquaplaning – These tires provide a high level of protection against aquaplaning with their designs. 
  • High-Performance – These tires provide great handling, curving and overall performance.


  • Accessibility – These tires are a bit more difficult to find.
  • Cost – These tires are a bit more expensive due to low availability.
  • Cannot Rotate – Just like the directional tires, these tires work in only one direction of rotation and must be fitted accordingly.

Be it for a road trip, your daily commute or a visit to another city or state, each tire has a specific purpose. Because of this, they each have specific designs for them. So whatever purpose you may have for your car, there’s a tire tread designed to help with that. Stop by our tire shop near you today and let us help you find the perfect tires for your vehicle!