Tread Patterns: Types and Features

One of the main parameters that you pay attention to when buying tyres is the type of tread. Tread pattern can differ in layouts of main and auxiliary recesses, as well as in width, depth, direction and other characteristics. To choose tyres with a tread pattern that is best suited for a particular car and operating conditions, you should know the main features of each option.

Features of passenger car tyre treads 

As already mentioned, the tread can have various patterns with recesses that differ in height, width and location. Moreover, this is not a “chaotic” scheme, but a well-thought-out design in which all the recesses and lines have their own designations to perform certain functions. When developing optimal tread patterns, manufacturers' specialists carry out various tests, changing the height of recesses, their number, direction and length. Thus, it is possible to create a pattern that provides the highest possible operational properties: grip, car handling, water drainage, etc.

When designing passenger car tyres, design engineers take into account the possible use of tyres in unfavourable road conditions (especially when they are to be used in the CIS countries), therefore, the tread pattern should provide equally good results on wet and dry asphalt, as well as in snow, mud, stones, etc. You should understand that it is impossible to buy “ideal” tyres, because some features are improved at the cost of other ones. There are multi-purpose tyres, but they have average characteristics, so they are not as good as special tyres.

Types of tread patterns

Based on layout of recesses, types of tread pattern are divided into:

Symmetric non-directional

Tyres with this tread are considered multi-purpose, as they are suitable for driving on any type of road surface. This pattern is used for both summer and winter tyres. The advantages of this type of tread pattern are riding in mixed cycles, high acoustic comfort and good handling. Symmetric non-directional tyres can be installed on both axles, regardless of the direction of car movement. The key disadvantages of this pattern are relatively “modest” speed characteristics and a high risk of aquaplaning. Besides, these tyres do not provide dynamic manoeuvring. Experts recommend using such type of tyre as a spare one, because it can be put on any wheel.

Symmetric directional 


This is one of the most popular and commercially successful tread pattern which is also called rain tread, since the layout of the recesses provides high-quality adhesion to the wet road surface. However, such tyres guarantee stable directional stability and control of the car when driving both on rolled snow and on dry asphalt. According to experts, a symmetrical directional pattern is perfect for tyres operating in the conditions of the Ukrainian winter, as it provides an effective removal of snow porridge, shows good results when driving on slush and mud. Among the disadvantages of such tyres can be increased noise, insufficient stability of behaviour when moving on low-quality road surface. 

Asymmetric non-directional 

A tyre with this type of tread shows the maximum level of performance during high-speed driving, providing high-quality dynamic manoeuvring. This type of tread pattern is often used for sports cars, luxury sports cars and premium cars. Such tyres are characterized by excellent lateral stability. The disadvantage of an asymmetric non-directional pattern is limited use of such tyres, since they show poor performance when driving on off paved roads and poor-quality surfaces (drivers and passengers feel every bump, pit and other road defects). In addition, a relatively high price can be considered as a disadvantage. 

Asymmetric directional. 

Tyres with such a tread pattern began to be produced already in the 21st century, however, today they are extremely rare. These tyres are not very popular due to difficulties with their installation and car maintenance. So, problems arise when you install a spare tyre, because specific tyres can only be suitable for certain axles (both external or internal position and the direction of movement are taken into account). To have several spare tyres in the car is expensive and inconvenient, therefore tyres with an asymmetric directional pattern are rarely used.

ATTENTION! Any tyre with a non-directional tread pattern (when they are mounted correctly) can be put in any place (left or right, front or rear), while tyres with a directional pattern can be installed only on one side.

Other characteristics

When choosing a tread, you should also pay attention to the acoustic comfort, which depends on a pattern. Practice shows that directional tyres are noisier. Besides, acoustic properties depend on the size of tread blocks (the wider the recesses, the higher the noise, but the better the self-cleaning properties).

When choosing a tyre tread, you should also take into account the season you are going to use the tyres (summer, winter or all-season) and the type of road surface. If you usually drive on high-quality asphalt, the best option is Highway Terrain H/T or H/P tyres. For off-road driving, mud tyres M/T  (Mud Terrain) are suitable. With an active driving style, it is better to give preference to sports tyres S/T (Sport Terrain). There are universal tyres A/T (All Terrain), which are suitable for all types of road surfaces. 

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