can car tires be put on backwards

Can Car Tires Be Put On Backwards?

Bought yourself a brand new set of tires and wondering whether the tire installer put them on backwards? Is it even possible to put car tires on backwards? Don’t worry. A lot of people have the same concerns. Thankfully, you have us to point you in the right direction.

Can car tires be put on backwards? It depends on the tire. If you have directional tires, then yes. Directional tires are designed for movement in only one direction. If you have a non-directional tire, you can mount them however you wish.

Let’s go into a little more depth on this, shall we? This way, you will have more idea as to whether your specific tires can be mounted in any direction. Don’t worry. It is much easier than you think!  

Can Car Tires Be Put On Backwards?

It is always going to be dependent on the tire. Your average tire built for general road conditions, in most cases, will be a non-directional tire. This means the tires can be mounted any way you want on the wheels.

In fact, most new cars come with tires that are non-directional straight from the factory. This makes tire rotations much easier, and extends the life of the OEM tires.

Many people like non-directional tires, as you can change the direction that they have been mounted any time that you want. This allows for more even wear on the tire, as uneven wear could lead to the steering wheel shaking while driving.

However, if you have directional tires, then they are built to travel in one direction only. Directional tires will normally have a tread designed for harsher conditions, e.g., wet roads, off-roading, snow, etc. This tread can only provide grip when it is traveling in one direction. So, if the tire has been put on in the wrong direction, then it isn’t going to work anywhere near as well as it should. 

If you are unsure as to whether you have directional tires, don’t worry. Directional tires will clearly be marked with an arrow. You will also find the details in the manual. The manufacturers of these tires really do go to huge lengths to ensure that the owners know that they are dealing with directional tires.

Directional tires will clearly be marked with an arrow found on the outside sidewall of each tire.

What Happens If You Put Tires On Backwards?

It depends on the situation. If you are driving in dry conditions on the road, then you probably wouldn’t even notice that you are driving on backward directional tires. The tires may have a little bit of extra wear on them, but the car will be completely fine to drive.

The real issues start happening when you are driving in poor road conditions or off-road. You may find that your tires do not grip the road as well as they should. You may find that the handling of your vehicle is completely wrong. You may even find that you lose control of your vehicle when you are driving over water on the road, such as hydroplaning.

This happens due to the direction that the tire treads are. Because the tire tread is not running in the direction that it should be running in, it isn’t able to grip the ground properly.

Additionally, if you are planning on driving in anything other than dry conditions on the road, having a directional tire on backwards will be plain dangerous. If you are driving in dry conditions, you will have to replace the tires far more frequently. However, this is something that you do not want to happen under any circumstance.

Are Noisy Tires a Sign They Are On Backwards?

Not always–but this can be a early sign that your tires are mounted backwards. When directional tires are mounted backwards they will produce excessive road noise. Tires that are on backwards may even cause the steering wheel to shake or vibrate.

How To Tell If Your Directional Tires Are On Backwards

As we said earlier, the manufacturers really like to make it clear that you have directional tires. After all, if you have directional tires and you mount them incorrectly, you may be pretty mad at them.

While it is always advised to look at the manual that came with your tires, the easiest way to determine whether you are dealing with directional tires is to just look at them. An arrow on them will tell you the direction that the tire is meant to rotate. Of course, you want that arrow pointing toward the front of your vehicle. 

If you do not see an arrow on your tires, then it is unlikely that you have directional tires. This means that there shouldn’t be any issues mounting them however you want on the wheels. However, you may want to have a quick flick through the manual that came with them just to be 100% sure.

The Final Word 

Can car tires be put on backwards? Yes, if the tires are non-directional. If you have directional tires however, then they have been designed to work in only one direction. If you see an arrow on the tires, then this means that your tires are directional. You will need to ensure that this arrow points toward the front of your vehicle.

If you mount a directional tire in the wrong direction, the vehicle becomes dangerous. While you may not have any issues on dry road surfaces, you will have a lot of problems when things get a bit wetter, or you head off-road. 

Have you ever had experience with car tires on backwards? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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View posts by Christopher
Loves anything with a motor and wheels. Christopher is an internet technology and automotive expert. When he's not at the local autocross event, he can often be found working on one of his cars. He loves nothing more than taking something apart and putting it back together again–better than before.

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