Three Peak Mountain Snowflake Tires VS M+S Tires

Three Peak Mountain Snowflake Tires VS M+S Tires

If you read our previous post, you already know how crucial it is to take into account the load and speed ratings of your tires. These are the tire "business card" that makes you understand if they match your needs or not. Also, they make you understand what are the limits in pushing them harder or softer for your safety on the road.

What we didn't cover in the previous article are the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake and M+S tire markings. What are they talking about and how suitable are they for you? That is what we will discuss in today's article.

Well, let's start with the fact that these markings talk about the weather conditions in which the tires feel like fish in water. If the UTQG rating mainly talks about traction, temperature, and service life, the Snowflake and M+S markings are about weather versatility. With this introductory note, let's delve deeper into this topic. By the end of today's article, we hope you will become a real pro in the field.

M+S Rating For All-Season Tires

While all-season tires perform quite viable in early winter conditions, they are still not as efficient for severe winters.
The M+S marks actually refer to Mud + Snow performance. In this context, these tires mean that they are specifically designed to deal with wet, and dry conditions, as well as those covered by a thin layer of snow. That is, they are optimal for the pre-heavy winter period and act like transitioning tires to harsh conditions.

Their architectural specificity consists of wide grooves. That width is purposefully designed to throw mud and snow from the tire channels. Thus, the muddy and snowy material does not remain inside the tire, which facilitates traction on such sections of the road. The logical and specific architecture cleans the tire from these road components ensuring flawless and firm contact with the road surface.

Why do these tires not perform sufficiently on icy and heavy snow roads? Well, it's because they lack the necessary biting edges in the tread structure. Instead, they are present in all-weather and winter tires. Thanks to them, winter tires bite the ice or the snow block efficiently and aggressively, providing superb traction in harsh wintery conditions. 

How Do M+S Tires Perform In Harsh Winter Conditions?

Well, you should remember that "mud" is not exactly specific to harsh wintery conditions. The "S" in this abbreviation refers to mild to moderate snow, and not to heavy snow specific to northern areas, for example. As such, the tires featuring the M+S marking are mainly for light winter environments when the snow barely settles on the road surface in a fluffy and thin layer. Respectively, their main purpose is for motorists who drive in areas where the winter is mild and reaches only a few degrees below zero Celsius.

With this in mind, the M+S symbol comes into close association with all-season tires. You are wrong if you expect superb heavy snow handling from them in difficult winters. First, they will become rigid as the temperatures go far beyond zero. And this is not because they lack quality. This is for the simple reason that their composition does not provide enough elasticity to keep them soft at low temperatures. Freezing conditions significantly reduce their traction and firmness. This, in turn, increases the risk of poor handling and responsiveness during harsh winters.

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Three Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol in Winter tires

The Snowflake symbol is often found on tire sidewalls and speaks of the tire's resistance to extreme conditions. Manufacturers produce them wearing harsh, Nordic winters in mind. If you see this symbol on tire sidewalls, you immediately understand that these are suitable even for rides to North Scandinavia, if you want, where winters really complicate the driving experience.

What makes 3MPS tires stand out in such conditions? The answer lies in the different production technologies. It is about their compound blend, which is much more intricate than M+S tires. More precisely, the manufacturers use materials that are much more durable and resistant to low temperatures. This means that temperatures going down even to 20 degrees Celsius below zero will keep their integrity and responsiveness.

Moreover, tires marked with the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol have components that dramatically optimize their flexibility and pliability in very cold conditions. They will not freeze, will remain responsive, and provide high-grade elasticity. As such, these guarantee comfort, safety, and resistance in challenging conditions.

An aspect that is missing in the Mud+ Snow tires and that is present in the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake is heavier tire siping detailing. Sipes' role is fairly paramount as they are the ones that generate tire extra biting edges. Icy roads and packed snow areas are handled with ease thanks to the traction that these siping details provide. As such, tires featuring the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol guarantee high-performance traction and superb firmness in extreme conditions like no other tire.

What Can Be More Optimal Than 3PMS Tires In Harsh Winter?

This question is usually specific to those who live in the northern parts of the U.S. And we understand the reason. The winters in these areas severely complicate driving and motorists need a guarantee of performance.

For your peace of mind, the tires featuring the Snowflake symbol are more than you would like for these difficult conditions. Manufacturers draw increased attention to their designs. Their design is more than an aesthetic detail. Each groove and sipe has its own purpose and contributes to the common purpose of handling challenging conditions in the most promising way possible.

Also, the materials in 3PMSF tires are the most complex of all existing ones. Altogether, the tires featuring the Snowflake symbol promise secure cornering, great responsiveness, and superb braking in severe winter environments and on good roads.

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What About The Off-Road Sections?

Well, there are no more optimal tires for winter off-road conditions than those with the Snowflake mark. But, if you feel the need for complementary support, you can opt for studded or studdable tires, as well as tire chains. This means that 3PMSF tires can be coupled with studs or chains to increase traction and firmness on the road when the conditions are exceedingly difficult. In the same context, you must take into account the laws of the state in which you drive. The use of studs and chains is regulated by governmental bodies and involves certain prohibitions in certain periods of the year.

Certification Procedure For 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake Tires

Just don't think that manufacturers assign this symbol just because they want to. The certification process is quite rigorous and the manufacturers sweat a lot until the tires meet all the criteria.

Contrary to the belief of many drivers and car enthusiasts, the Snowflake rating is not only about tire traction. To assign this symbol, manufacturers must use a certain compound, or rather, a certain compound blend. It is specifically about that blend that makes the tire withstand temperatures below 40° Fahrenheit while remaining sufficiently flexible at the same time. As you can imagine, the production of all-season tires does not involve so much hustle.

So, before being available for sale, 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake tires go through a long and difficult process, starting with its components and ending with performance tests. Precisely for this reason, this tire category is among the most expensive on the market.

Mud+ Snow Tire Certification Procedure

The process of producing and assigning the M+S rating is somewhat easier. Most all-season tires on the market have this rating. Matter-of-factly, manufacturers must meet only one criterion for M+S tires. This makes them relatively more versatile in production and involves lower costs. The criterion refers to the amount of grooves in the tires.

To comply with the standards, all-season tire treads must have at least 25% grooves in their composition. Manufacturers ensure that the width is sufficient to effectively remove snow and mud. Dispersing these materials is the number one prerogative of all-season tires. Namely, the efficiency of dispersion is what ensures firm and stable contact with the road in wet and dry conditions.

Bottom Line

How clear was all the above information to you? If we missed something, don't hesitate to write in the comments below. But, generally speaking, that's about all you need to know about the difference between 3PMSF and the M+S tires.

To sum up, M+S tires are suitable for mild winter conditions. The optimal temperatures revolve around 0 degrees Celsius more or less. Their basic purpose is to remove snow and mud efficiently from the tire structure. As a result, the tire rolls smoothly on dry and wet roads providing decent traction and handling.

On the other hand, extreme temperatures will put M+S tires at risk. We don't recommend trying them in such conditions because you could experience severe handling and responsiveness issues. For difficult winters with snow and ice, you better equip yourself with 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake tires.

These meet two major safety and resistance prerogatives. It is about decent coping with extreme temperatures without sacrificing traction and overall performance, as well as promising elasticity for maximum comfort.

3PMSF VS M+S Tires: FAQs

What Does 3PMSF Mean On a Tire?

3PMSF stands for the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol and indicates that the tire is fully prepared for severe winter conditions. A tire featuring this symbol on its sidewall has an elastic formula that ensures reliable traction even at extreme temperatures. It also has a special structure meant to bite through snow and ice thanks to multiple sipes and biting edges. This symbol is assigned to tires by the USTMA, which is a national trade association for tire manufacturers.

Is 3PMSF Better Than M+S?

These symbols indicate traction and power properties under different conditions. While M+S tires perform well in muddy. and light snow, the 3PMSF ones are better equipped for severe snow conditions. As such, M+S tires are predominantly meant for all-season conditions when snow does not fall thicker than a few inches. On the other hand, 3PMSF tires have a structure resistant to low temperatures and a more aggressive architecture to provide excellent snow traction. M+S tires are not a very good idea for heavy winters with packed snow and ice. Alternatively, a 3PMSF tire is a much more reliable option. However, it does not make sense to opt for a 3PMSF tire if the climatic conditions in the area you live are mild.

Can I Use 3PMSF In the Summer?

Not really. The 3PMSF symbol talks about the snow properties of the tire. Their formula is specially created to remain sustainable and reliable at low temperatures and in severe snow conditions. This symbol is found in most winter tires and they are not recommended for the warm season. However, certain all-weather tires also have this symbol. This means that you could use them both in winter and in summer because "all-weather" tires are also compatible with warm weather conditions.

Are M+S Tires All Season?

Yes, this symbol is found on most all-season tires. This means that the tire will do quite well in muddy and snowy conditions, whenever snow does not fall more than just a few inches. It's worth mentioning that there is no actual accreditation or testing for a tire to get this label. In contrast, a tire featuring the 3PMSF symbol is subject to specialized accreditation and testing.

Why Trust Us?

NeoTires is a team of specialists and enthusiasts dedicated to improving the driving experience of all motorists. Tires have become our object of study because they determine the performance of the vehicle in various conditions. The tires are responsible for the vehicle's traction and confidence during the winter, or its performance and agility during the summer. In addition, they influence stability on muddy and sandy surfaces as well as can get you out of the most challenging terrains. All that matters is to choose the right tire to succeed in all of them.

For this, the NeoTires team runs tests, reviews, and comparisons between the most reputable products in the tire industry. Our mechanics and experts take care to analyze their behavior in the most unfavorable conditions so that drivers know the advantages and disadvantages of any of them. In addition, we collaborate with the most reliable tire brands such as Hankook, Nokian, BBGoodrich, Bridgestone, Cooper, Falken, Pirelli, Goodyear, and many others to provide the best deals and buying conditions.

With us, you have access to a wide variety of reputable products, instant assistance, professional and customer-oriented guidance, as well as friendly prices. We cannot change the road and weather conditions in which you drive. But we can certainly influence the performance of the vehicle in these conditions. Drive safe and choose your tires wisely!


Brian Darr is a passion-driven enthusiast who has become an expert in the tire industry. His passion for rubber started with his first driving experience. He firmly believes that the performance and safety of any vehicle are due, first of all, to the quality of the tires mounted on it.
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