Weighing the Pros and Cons of Tread Patterns

Selecting tires with the right tread pattern for your application will maximize the performance of your commercial vehicles. We’ll break down the advantages and disadvantages of each tread pattern, so you can decide which is best for your fleet.

Parts of a Tread Pattern

Rib: The rib is the strip of rubber that wraps around the circumference of a tire. There are several ribs molded into each tread pattern.

Groove: The space between each rib is called a groove. Circumferential grooves are molded around the whole tire, like ribs. Lateral grooves are molded across ribs and support traction in wet road conditions.

Tread blocks: These rubber sections are the portions of the tire tread that touch the road. A tread block is made up of ribs and grooves.

Sipes: The molded slits in smooth sections of a tire’s surface, sipes improve traction in snow and ice.

Symmetrical Tread

This tread is made of a continuous pattern of ribs and grooves.


  • Least expensive of all tread options
  • Can rotate tires to any position on a vehicle
  • Versatility increases tire’s lifespan
  • Provides a smooth ride with low rolling resistance


  • Tires do not perform well in wet conditions
  • Not suitable for long-distance trips

Directional Tread

Also called the unidirectional tread, tires with directional tread have an arrow-shaped pattern that points in one direction.


  • Tread pattern effectively draws water through the tread
  • Reduces risk of hydroplaning
  • Provides good traction on snowy and icy roads
  • Helps maintain fuel efficiency


  • More expensive than symmetrical tread tires
  • Can only rotate tires from front to rear axle due to directional pattern

Asymmetrical Tread

Tires with asymmetrical tread have different patterns on the inner and outer portions of the tire.


  • Good traction in dry and wet conditions
  • Outer treads provide good stability during cornering
  • Inner treads draw away water to decrease the likelihood of hydroplaning
  • Quieter performance than symmetrical tires


  • More expensive
  • Softer rubber means a shorter lifespan
  • Only suitable for front to rear rotation

Directional and Asymmetrical Tread

As the name suggests, these tires have a combination of directional and asymmetrical tread patterns.


  • The arrow-shaped design directs water out of the tread
  • Less likely to hydroplane
  • Good for high-performance vehicles


  • Most expensive tread option
  • Usually only available for tires that are 17-inches or taller
  • Can only rotate tires within specific regulations

Schedule service at any Bauer Built Tire & Service location, and our expert staff will help you find the right tires to maximize the efficiency of your commercial fleet.

Categories: Bauer Built Blog, Tire Care Tips