Michelin is certainly one of the most recognized and famous brands of tires in the world.
Made even more famous by their association with the acclaimed world restaurant guide.
They are headquartered in eastern France and produce hundreds of millions of tires every single year for a wide variety of vehicles.
This article answers the question “Are Michelin Tires Directional?”…
Are Michelin Tires Directional?
Not all Michelin tires are directional, but the company does manufacture them for use in high-performance driving scenarios. There are several Michelin directional tire products. Michelin directional tires include the Latitude Alpin series, the Pilot Sport A/S Plus series, and some others.
They are not the most common pattern, however, since directional tires are typically reserved for high-performance or track use rather than regular road use.
Which Michelin Tires Are Directional?
Directional tires only make up a small part of the Michelin total catalog.
This is because they aren’t typically used for everyday vehicles, but rather for high-performance models only.
The main series containing directional tires is the Pilot Sport A/S Plus series.
In addition to this, you can find some directional models in the Latitude Alpin winter tires series as well.
What Are Directional Tires?
Directional tires, also known as unidirectional tires, are specially designed tires that are intended to be fitted to a specific location on a vehicle’s axle and facing a specific rolling direction.
To aid in installation, directional tires usually come with indicator arrows on the sidewall that tell you in which direction the tire should be rolling.
They will also indicate if they should be placed on the left or right side of the car.
The other big feature on a typical directional tire is the tread markings.
Where most tires have either a symmetrical horizontal pattern or an asymmetrical pattern, directional tires have a symmetrical pattern pointing downward in the forward direction creating a “Y” shape.
This is another way to distinguish directional tires from other types of tires.
What Are The Other Types Of Tires?
Besides directional tires, there are 2 main other types of tires people can buy. They are symmetric and asymmetric.
Symmetric tires are the most common and you’ll see them on many passenger cars, trucks, minivans and other vehicles.
Their distinguishing features include continuous ribs across the tread face or independent tread blocks.
The inboard and outboard halves of the tire have the same pattern, which is why they are known as “symmetric.”
Asymmetric tires, as the name suggests, contain a tread pattern that changes across the face of the tire.
They are designed less for general use and more specifically for dispersal of water, snow, and other precipitation.
The outside of the tire will usually feature larger tread blocks to increase traction when taking corners.
What Are The Differences?
There are several ways to tell the difference between the different types of tires available on the market.
First of all, you can look at the tread patterns.
Symmetric tires have the same symmetrical pattern running across the tire horizontally. There is no difference between the inner and outer parts of the tire when it comes to tread.
Asymmetric tires feature different patterns on their inboard and outboard, or at least not symmetrical with each other.
It could be a diagonal sloping pattern that runs across the entire surface, but the inboard and outboard are not symmetrical.
In fact, the outboard typically features a slightly enlarged tread to ensure better traction on corners.
The tread of directional tires is perhaps the most distinct. The tread converges downward to form a “Y” shape in the center of the tire.
The downward direction of the tread pattern points in the forward direction of the tire as indicated by arrows on the sidewall.
The design of the grooves on a directional tire makes it better for moving water efficiently through the tread pattern.
Besides these differences, directional tires will also indicate on the side which direction they are meant to roll in and which position on the vehicle they should be placed, e.g., front left axle.
The placing and rotation of the tires has to be done differently to conventional tires.
If they are rotated at all, directional tires are normally rotated by simply switching the front and rear tires on the same side.
How Can I Tell If My Michelin Tires Are Directional?
First of all, check to see what product series or product family they are in. If they are not part of the Pilot or Latitude Alpin family, then they are unlikely to be directional tires.
Other ways you can check include inspecting the tire tread pattern.
Is it symmetrical and pointing downward to create a “V” or “Y” type of shape? If so, then you likely have directional tires.
You can also inspect the side of the tire to see if there are arrow direction indicators and/or “left/right” indicators to show how and where the tires should be installed.
These are the main indicators.
If you are still unsure, then the best thing would be to consult with your tire seller or your mechanic to confirm whether or not the tires you are currently riding on are directional or not.
Are Directional Tires Better? Why?
It’s hard to say if directional tires are objectively better, but they are demonstrably effective in two main areas of driving concern.
The first is when one needs to evacuate or expel water from the tires. Directional tires are very good at this. The second is when handling a car going at high speeds.
The directional tires first of all provide much better traction on the road and can shift water through the tread at a very quick pace.
Directional tires are also said to help the car become more fuel-efficient while traveling at faster speeds.
On the flip side, however, directional tires are more expensive than regular tires and won’t last for as long a time because they cannot be rotated in the same fashion as regular tires.
The only way to deal with them is to dismount them, flip and remount on the same side, reversed from back to front. Side to side rotation is impossible with directional tires.
Are Michelin Directional Tires More Expensive?
By and large, directional tires are more expensive than standard tires for passenger cars, but they are not inherently the most expensive.
The specialized rubber compounds used to ensure that directional tires can meet needs for traction and performance are generally what makes them so expensive to purchase.
It will also cost more to rotate the tires since there is more labor involved in the procedure.
This makes their cost of ownership higher, too, because their overall lifespan is shorter than that of conventional tires, which will need changing less frequently.