Directional, Asymmetric, Symmetrical & Road Legal Slicks

"Which tyre is best for your car and what are the differences?"

One thing that affects the performance of your car more than anything else has to be the tyres. Your tyre contact patch with the road is where all of your steering, control and throttle changes happen so ensuring this contact is good becomes paramount.

The right choice of tyre can shave precious seconds from your lap times on track days. In day to day driving however, you have some compromises to make and have a wide range of tyres to choose from.

We'll look at summer and winter tyres and look at the differences between Directional, Asymmetric, Symmetrical and Road Legal Slicks to help you decide which is the best option for your performance car.


You'll need a car tyre that performs well in the hot and cold and responds well to dry and wet weather. Having to change your tyres regularly is very time consuming and requires that you have storage space for the tyres that are not currently in use. If you can have a spare set of rims you'll benefit from easier swaps between tyres but will still have to sacrifice a lot of garage space.

Choose the wrong tyre and you can seriously compromise the performance of your car.

TorqueCars are seeing more and more drivers fitting winter tyres to cover the icy and snowy weather. Grip is maintained and these are becoming an essential safety feature. In fact some countries are now specifying that cars are fitted with winter or wet weather spec tyres during the colder months of the year.

Winter Tyres

Winter tyres have very small tread sections which are divided up and allow the relatively hard compound to flex and grip the road surface when conditions are wet or icy cold. However  if you use winter tyres during the warmer summer months and the heat will soften them and dramatically accelerate tyre wear. Grip will also be reduced due to the tread pattern and soft rubber compound used.

When it comes to performance tyres you have a wide choice. You only have to look at any large online retailer like  to see the wide range on offer. This can make choosing a tyre difficult.

Directional Tyres

Directional tread patterns require fitting according to the rotation of the wheel. These are good for performance cars where speed changes are frequent and you want to maximise your cornering grip. They usually perform best in wet weather where the V groove pattern throws water away from the contact area efficiently. Note the arrow on the sidewall showing the direction of rotation.

Asymmetric Tyres

Asymmetric designs have a tread pattern designed for the inside and another for the outside again the rotation and outside edge are marked on the sidewall. The outer part enhances cornering and the inner part usually helps with the dispersal of water.

Symmetrical Tyres

Standard symmetrical tyres can be fitted either way round and on either axle. Most standard cars are fitted with these and they do work well as all round tyres.


Road Legal Slicks

For track days you'll see companies offering road legal slicks. You'll always get the best dry weather grip from a slick tyre, as F1 cars can attest, but every country specifies a minimum tread depth to cope with wet weather.

The road legal slicks have large tread areas and very few channels so fit the legal requirement for tread depth over the tyre and still offer a large slick contact area.

Take into account the manufacturers speed rating. TorqueCars hear many drivers putting on cheap tyres and saying they never drive at 150mph so why would I need a tyre rated for that? In reality the speed ratings show the durability of the tyre and its ability to handle the torque of a more powerful car. If  you drive at 70mph you can still experience a blow out or tyre failure due to the fitting of the wrong speed rating of your tyre.

Stretched tyres, rim size and speed ratings

We would also recommend fitting an appropriate size of tyre for your cars rims. Most manufacturers specify just one or two size options for each rim and sticking to these ensures that your car will operate safely and predictably. The growing trend of stretched tyres worries us. Pushing a tyre this far outside of its intended operating range cannot be a good thing!

For most performance cars used on the road we would recommend directional tread patterns with a V pattern. We also recommend you fit tyres in pairs on the same axle. Four wheel drive cars are usually better where Asymmetrical patterns are used and should usually be replaced as a set of four. For track days in the dry weather a road legal slick is the obvious choice. Manufacturers recommendations should be noted and where cars are modified you should try to exceed the recommended tyre specification.

To discuss the technical side of tyres please join our forums and discuss all aspects of car tuning and modification with our friendly enthusiasts from around the world.

Please Check out my YouTube channel, we're regularly adding new content...

PLEASE HELP: I NEED YOUR DONATIONS TO COVER THE COSTS OF RUNNING THIS SITE AND KEEP IT RUNNING. I do not charge you to access this website and it saves most TorqueCars readers $100's each year - but we are NON PROFIT and not even covering our costs. To keep us running PLEASE Donate here

If you liked this page please share it with your friends, drop a link to it in your favourite forum or use the bookmarking options to save it to your social media profile.

Feedback - What do You Think?

Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

Help us improve, leave a suggestion or tip

Your Constructive comments on this article, I really want to improve this article with your help and suggestions.

Please watch this video and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Member Benefits

Join our forum today and benefit from over 300,000 posts on tuning styling and friendly car banter.

You will also have full access to the modifed car gallery, project car updates and exclusive member only areas.

(All car owners of all ages and from all countries are welcome).

BMW 335i - 2021 COTY

We gave the BMW 335i our coveted car of the year award, read more about this awesome car and see why 335i Tuning Guide

Tips for N54 Tuning

Tips for N55 Tuning
Tips for B58 Tuning

Popular articles

Diesel tuning
ECU Remapping
Double Clutch
Induction Kits
Customize a car
Tuning Chips
Modded Car insurance
Track day insurance
Diesel Remaps
Calculate MPG
DPF cleaning
Stage 1 Tuning

Exhaust Wraps

Ceramic exhaust coatings and exhaust wrap

Strut Braces

Fitting Strut Braces and how to install a strut brace

Body Kits

Car bodykits. Side skirts, sills, bumpers and wide body kits.

Vehicle Wraps

Total vehicle wraps and applying vinyl wrap to your car.

Interior Cleaning

How to clean a car’s interior

2008 Car News

Review of the 2008 car related news stories

MPG Calculator

MPG calculator UK miles per Gallon – calculate MPG