Common Tread Patterns
With all of the different purposes your tires can serve, it only makes sense that there would be different types of tread patterns to adapt to these various needs.
The four most common tread designs are symmetrical, asymmetrical, directional, and asymmetrical & directional.
A symmetrical tread pattern is the most common tread design in the industry. The inner and outer tread blocks feature the same pattern. Symmetrical tires can be rotated to any position on the vehicle which helps prevent uneven treadwear. Some symmetrical tires have the options of whitewall, blackwall, and raised white letters that differ on each side giving the choice of what style of sidewall to display.
The asymmetrical tread design has different features on the inner and outer tread areas. Many tires are designed where just the tread patterns are different, while other asymmetrical tires feature different rubber compounds on the inner and outer tread to provide enhanced grip and handling. Generally, one section of tread will provide all-season capabilities, while other sections provide a quiet ride and handling. Asymmetrical tires come with mounting instructions molded on to the sidewall to ensure they are installed the correct way. For example it may read Mount This Side Out.
Directional tires are designed with the tread pattern angled to point in one direction. The tread design is typically V-shaped and is more resistant to hydroplaning. The tread blocks are molded diagonally to push away water from the contact patch more effectively. Directional tires cannot be rotated from one side of the vehicle to the other side, they can only be rotated front to back - which can often lead to more road noise as they wear. The tires would be mounted: two tires for one direction (driver's side) and the other two tires in the opposite direction (passenger side).
Asymmetrical & Directional Tread
Asymmetrical and directional tires are designed as a combination of the two tread designs. This tread pattern is very uncommon and is typically found in the ultra-high performance category. These tires can only be mounted one way and will be designated as either right side or left side tires for your vehicle. As long as the tires are not staggered, they can be rotated front to back. If the vehicle has staggered fitment the tires must remain in the same position for the duration of their life.