The variety of tyres available in the market nowdays is truly mind-numbing. To make the wisest decision while picking up new set of tyres, you need to familiarize yourself with the different types of tyre tread patterns, the effect they have on tyre performance in different conditions and how they affect the tyre rotation possibilities. There are three types of tread design: Symmetrical, Asymmetrical and Uni-directional.
Symmetrical Tread Pattern-
The most common type of tread design available in the market is Symmetrical tread pattern. The name itself makes it clear that the tread pattern on these tyres are in the same symmetry on both sides of the tyre’s center line. One advantage of symmetrical tread pattern is that it allows multiple tyre rotation combinations, thus making it less complicated for a layman. A single tyre can be installed onto any corner of the car if the vehicle has identical tyre specification in both front and rear tyres.
Asymmetrical Tread Pattern-
On an Asymmetrical tyre, you will notice a variety of tread patterns on the same tyre, with the pattern design chosen carefully for each section to maximize the tyre performance in wet and dry conditions. Generally, the outer surface of an asymmetrical tyre has larger tread blocks to perform under cornering stress, while the inside of the tyre is designed to deliver under wet conditions. The flexibility of multiple tyre rotation patterns that is allowed on Symmetrical tread is compromised on Asymmetrical design. There are limited ways in which such tyres can be rotated. Therefore, these tyres are generally marked with “Outside” and “Inside” on the their profile to help identify which side should be facing outside.
Uni-directional Tread Pattern-
With visual inspection, you can identify a uni-directional tread when the tread pattern seem to form a series of V-shaped designs pointing in one direction. This type of design is excellent for channeling water from the road and reduce the chances of hydroplaning. The uni-directional design is best suited for wet road surfaces – the outward facing grooves trap water from the road and eject it away from the tyre. Similar to the Asymmetrical tyres, the uni-directional tyres also can be used only on one side of the vehicle but, if you really want to change the side then it requires the tyre to be removed from the wheel and reinstalled after flipping it.
Also see: How driving habits effect tyre wear