Can Whitewall Tires Be Turned Inside?

by Mike Schoonveld

Some types of tires are only available with white sidewalls (the area on the side between the tread and the wheel edge). However, you can use these tire models as blackwalls by having them mounted with the whitewalls turned inside.

Directional Tires

A few models of tires, designed for use in wet conditions or off-road applications, have to be mounted so they turn in a specific direction. Whitewalls versions of these are marked with an "L" or "R" to show on which side of a vehicle they should be placed. Also, arrows molded into the sidewalls indicate the direction of rotation for which the tires are designed to operate.

Non-Directional Tires

Most tires are non-directional, meaning they are designed to operate equally well regardless of which way they are rotating.

Mounting Directionals

When turning the whitewalls inside on directional tires, the "R" tires must be mounted backward on the rims for the left side of the vehicle, and the "L" tires placed on the right-side rims. The arrows showing the direction of rotation should show the tires will be turning the correct way.

Mounting Non-Directionals

When mounting non-directional tires so the whitewalls are to the inside, the tires simply need to be placed on the rims in reverse.

Tire Rotation

Whitewall tires that are turned inside should be rotated according to the usual guidelines of changing their position on a vehicle every 10,000 miles to promote even tread wear. A directional tire rotation plan moves the rear tire to the front and the front to the rear on the same side of the vehicle. For non-directional tires, the wheels are shifted both front and back and also moved from one side to the other.

About the Author

Mike Schoonveld has been writing since 1989 with magazine credits including "Outdoor Life," "Fur-Fish-Game," "The Rotarian" and numerous regional publications. Schoonveld earned a Master Captain License from the Coast Guard. He holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife science from Purdue University.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera tire image by Orlando Florin Rosu from