They're also easy to pick out: certified winter tires have sidewalls that are marked with a three-peaked mountain that has a snowflake symbol in the middle of its outline. You might think of them as just "snow tires," but sporting this symbol signifies a lot more.
What does the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol on tires mean?
If this symbol is on the sidewall of the winter tires you’re shopping for, it means that they have been tested and proven capable of performing under extreme winter driving conditions. It also means that specific sets of tires either meet or exceed the prerequisite capability requirements put in place by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) to determine whether a tire is fit for use in severe snow conditions.
The standards set forth by the USTMA also brought out other ways of referring to these types of tires. You might see tires with the M+S designation in their name and the symbol can sometimes be referred to as the “severe weather” or “Alpine” symbol, but the pictograph of the snowflake symbol in an outline of a mountain stays the same.
M + S Tires vs. Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol Tires
It's fairly common to find a tire that has a large "M" and "S" stamped on its sidewall. The M + S, M / S, or M & S rating signifies what generally is a manufacturer-determined mud and snow rating. These most likely feature tire sipes that are designed to provide more grip in these kinds of conditions than the same tires that do not have the M + S rating.
Some all-terrain, all-weather and all-season tires may even have the M + S rating, but these should not be considered for severe snow conditions. They're acceptable for use where temperatures occasionally dip down below freezing and where light snow flurries are uncommon.
Because tires bearing this symbol have been so rigorously tested to excel in winter conditions, they may also have the M + S rating from their manufacturer. However, keep in mind that this rating is not standardized like winter tires with the mountain snowflake symbol are.
Technology and research on tire tread patterns are continuously evolving and it can be overwhelming to choose from all the winter tire options out there. At the end of the day, when traction is paramount and stopping distances need to be as short as possible every time you have to venture out in the snow, any winter tire with the distinctive three-peak mountain and snowflake symbol on its sidewall is the best choice to safely get you where you need to go.
This is where our expertise comes in handy. Give your local Discount Tire a call today or find the closest store near you that can set you up with a set of these heavy-duty winter tires before the cold sets in!
Where to buy tires with the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol
Find the perfect performance snow tires for your machine by visiting one of our locations or ordering online. Find other topics on winter tires, accessories, and how different tires perform in cold and snowy conditions here:
- Winter Tire FAQs
- Winter Tire Changeover and Installation
- Tires Below 45 Degrees
- Studded Winter Tires vs. Tire Chains
- High-Performance Winter Tires
- All-Terrain and Mud Tires in Snow
- All-Season vs. Summer vs. Winter Tires
Stop by your local America's Tire and we'll get you taken care of!