Tires come in many different styles. Tire makers use a variety of materials to create tires to make the best contact with the road. The composition, while made of roughly 20% rubber, can contain more than 250 other compounds that, when brought together, serve to create the ideal grip. But it is the design of the treads—the grooves in the tire that provide grip on various road conditions, which allow the driver to be in complete control of the vehicle.
Not all tread patterns are the same, just as not all roads are the same and driving conditions can vary due to the time of year, the location where the driving occurs, and even the purpose in which the driver is driving. Tread patterns consist of the same four integral parts:
- Tread blocks: the tread blocks are the raised rubber portions of the tire that contact the road.
- Sipes: sipes are the thin slots that are molded into the tread block to help move water away from the tire and road surface.
- Grooves: grooves are the deep channels that run both laterally and circumferentially around the tire.
- Ribs: ribs are the raised portion of the tread pattern and are made up of the tread blocks.
Depending on the desired performance of the tires under conditions—for example, ice, snow, and wet or dry handling– designers can vary these four elements in the tread design to better serve the driver and allow more grip. The end product is one of four tread designs. Each has the performance for which it is best suited, and each has the elements under which it will perform less than ideally.
Here are the three types of tire tread:
Symmetrical Tire Patterns
The symmetrical tread is the most common type of pattern and can be found on many passenger cars. It is not a high-performance design but is very effective for typical day-to-day driving. The symmetrical design has continuous independent tread blocks across the face of the tire, and both halves of the tire have the same pattern—therefore, symmetrical. The pros of the symmetrical design include:
- Smooth, quiet driving
- High directional stability
- Low rolling resistance
- Fuel efficient
- Multiple rotation options
It is obvious from the list that the symmetrical tread is a very reliable and convenient choice in simple operating conditions. But that brings us to the cons:
- The symmetrical tread is not a high-performance tire
- Less adaptable to changing conditions on the road
- Not as effective on wet or snowy roads
Directional Tire Patterns
As the name suggests, the directional tread design is meant to roll in only one direction. The lateral grooves meet in the middle of the tread, forming an arrow shape that might seem to the onlooker as some sort of aesthetic, style-related choice. But the arrow shape is perfect for drawing water away from the tread blocks to help in wet conditions and combat hydroplaning.
- Excellent design to prevent hydroplaning
- Great in mud and snow
- Great high-speed performance, maintaining grip to the road
- Great all-season tire for non-performance vehicles
- Promotes better fuel efficiency
- Rotational limitations due to the directional tread mean that they have a shorter life expectancy and therefore are more costly than symmetrical tires
Asymmetrical Tire Patterns
The tread pattern changes across the face of the tire to maximize dry grip traction with a pattern that will draw water away in wet conditions. The outer side of the tire has a larger tread, while the inner side has a thinner tread to maximize water dispersal.
- Great handling on corners
- Excellent handling on wet roads
- Less road-related noise than symmetrical tires
- Short life
- Typically more expensive
Now, you have a better idea of what to look for when you are shopping for tires. There are other factors to consider, like the construction of the tire itself, but when it comes to grip and usage, it’s always important to understand the tread pattern and the purpose behind its design. No matter which design you go for, make sure that you do not mix tread patterns and all tires are a part of a set. Please speak with a Jack Mobile Tire specialist if you have any questions regarding tires or use our chat now feature located on our website to speak with a specialist today.