What Can Happen From Putting A Directional Tire On Backwards

Over time, drivers have had the opinion that putting directional tires the wrong way does affect performance.

And a bad performance leads to a compromised driving experience.

Well, you are about to find out in this article, if that statement about directional tires is entirely true or not.

How to Identify Directional Tires?

Before knowing whether a directional tire is put the wrong way or not, you need to understand what it is and how to identify it.

A directional tire is also called a unidirectional tire and is designed to move in only one direction. It is a great choice of tyre for speed and offers performance driving benefits.

On how to identify this tire, here is what you should know or look for:

Tread Pattern

A directional tire is identified by its unique tread pattern which creates a v or y shape when moving in one direction.

The tread pattern is different from those of symmetric and asymmetric tires. It makes them the best winter tires as they offer great protection against hydroplaning.

They also ensure stability at high speeds.


Another way to identify a directional tire is from the inscription on the tire’s sidewall.

There is always the word “rotation” or “direction” on the side of the car tire with arrow points.

What happens when you put directional tires on wrong?

Directional tires are different from other tires because they are designed to face one direction. However, if they were rotated or mounted in the wrong direction, they would suffer.

First, if mounted incorrectly, directional tires will not work perfectly in wet conditions. The reason is that their usual direction ensuring hydroplaning resistance is compromised.

Likewise, the tires may experience uneven and premature wear and poor gas mileage. And as time goes by, it starts making noise while driving.

Can you drive directional tires backwards?

Yes, you can, but you shouldn’t install them in cross directions.

Mounting directional tires isn’t an easy task and you must be prepared for the risks involved. Besides, you will be getting yourself into a lot of work – changing wheels back and forth.

Are there any damages running it in the opposite direction?

Most drivers don’t do a full rotation direction; instead, they rotate directional tires on opposite sides, i.e., front wheels to the rear or back wheels and vice-versa.

Now the backward or reverse rotation comes with its potential risk because these tires are not mounted correctly.

First, you lose the cornering grip and then the wet grip.

Next, you have increased braking distances.

Finally, your tires have uneven tread wear.

Is it possible to run a directional tire in reverse in DRY condition?

No, it isn’t.

As long as a directional tyre isn’t correctly mounted, i.e., mounted backward, it doesn’t matter whether it is done in dry or wintry conditions.

It would even get more damaged on dry surfaces than when it is used to channel water; thus, the rolling direction is consequential to its quality.

Do directional tires come in left and right?

Yes, they do, on the sidewall.

As directional tyres move in a direction, tire manufacturers have decided to make it easy for car owners to mount in the correct direction by providing sidewall markers.

With the marker coming with left and right inscriptions on new tires, it is impossible not to be able to set them correctly onto a vehicle if you want to.

Furthermore, there are arrow points on the sidewall showing the direction to mount the tire, i.e., the vehicle’s front.

In short, these tyres come with directional markers, i.e., an arrow with left/right points.

How to Do a Perfect Rotation with Directional Tyres?

The undeniable fact about tires generally is that: front and rear tires have different tread wear rates.

Knowing that this happens leaves drivers with no choice but to rotate tires, including directional ones – but in the right rotation direction.

So, instead of doing an opposite-side rotation, the same side rotation is appropriate to maximize tread quality and mileage for standard tires.

That being said, you should swap the front tire of a particular wheel side with the rear tire of that same side.

However, doing it crossways is a lot of stress and can potentially harm your tires.

How to Install Directional Tyres The Right way?

If you’ve just purchased a new set of tyres for your car from a tire shop, you can request an installment service from a professional or DIY.

For DIY, you should take the following steps.

Step 1: Raise your car to install the new tires to the wheels.

Step 2: Fix the left-directional tire to the front or rear side – do the same for the right-directional tire.

Step 3: Lower your car down and tighten the lugs and nuts.

Step 4: Start driving your vehicle until you have to change tires from the front to the rear on the same side.

What are the Pros and Cons of Directional Tires?

Directional tyres have their advantages and disadvantages for car owners.

Taking note of each of these things will determine the ultimate usability of these tires on your vehicle.


  • Directional tyres are the best summer and winter tires. They can handle dry and wet roads efficiently because of the features packed into them. For instance, the lateral grooves to evacuate water and ensure hydroplaning resistance.
  • Unidirectional tires provide increased wet grip, handling, and other performance driving benefits compared to other types of tires known, i.e., symmetric and asymmetric tires.
  • Directional tyres also allow vehicle owners to drive smoothly at high speeds.
  • Great fuel efficiency, stability, and extensive vehicle compatibility.


  • A directional tire is expensive because it is a high-performance tire made from a premium rubber compound. It is nothing like the regular car tires on the market.
  • It is a slightly durable choice, considering the tread life. Within a few years of use, the tread starts wearing out, unlike other types that take longer. Thus, there is always a constant need to rotate the tires to ensure they wear out evenly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Can Use a Directional Tire?

Unidirectional tyres are performance tyres, making them suitable for people who drive sports and race cars.

Although they have good vehicle compatibility, it doesn’t mean they are appropriate for passenger cars.

How Much Does a Directional Tire Cost?

A unidirectional tyre is more expensive than a non-unidirectional option because of the rubber material.

The price may vary from one manufacturer to another. However, it is worth the cost.


Putting unidirectional tires the wrong way doesn’t do you any good – not because performance is affected but because the tread wear, poor gas mileage, and increased braking distances are never good for your automotive.

So, if you plan to get directional tires, ensure you set the right tires to the right rims or rotate appropriately to ensure a great driving experience. 


Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

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