What Does the 3-Peak Mountain Symbol on Snow Tires Mean?

When choosing a set of snow tires, there are different types to choose from. For example, you may see some tires that say “M+S,” which means “mud and snow. On other tires, you may see a little symbol with a snowflake on a mountain, in that case, your car will be better prepared to handle serious winter conditions. Here’s what that symbol means.

Here is what the 3-peak mountain symbol means

The three-peak symbol shown on a tire sidewall.
The three-peak symbol is shown on a tire sidewall. | Wikimedia Commons

RELATED: What Temperature Is Too Warm for Winter Tires?

The 3-Peak Mountain (3PMS) symbol on a tire means that it has been tested for acceleration on medium-packed snow and meets specific standards. According to Family Handyman, tires that meet the 3PMS criteria have scored at least a 110 on the traction index. That means that “they accelerate at least 10% faster than a typical all-season tire that isn’t 3PMS rated,” the publication reports.

Although you may not have noticed, these specially-rated tires have been around for a while. In fact, the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association and the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada developed the 3PMS symbol back in 1999. Since then, tire manufacturers are required to meet the standards for the symbols in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

How do 3PMS tires differ from regular snow tires?

A winter tire shown on a car.
A winter tire is shown on a car. | Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images

Tires with the 3PMS rating use a softer compound that doesn’t harden in sub-zero temperatures reports Tire Rack. They also have special tread patterns with distinctive cross-cuts across the surface called “siping.” These cuts aid in the tire’s traction worthiness on snowy roads.

If you’re in the market for a set of snow tires, then you should be able to find some with the 3-Peak Mountain symbol from popular manufacturers like Goodyear, Michelin, Hankook, Nokian, Toyo, BF Goodrich, Yokohama, Kumho, Nitto, and Vredestein. Also, retailers like Tire Rack normally stock these types of tires, so finding them online for your car should be easy.

Can 3PMS tires be used all year long?

A snow tire making a track in the snow.
A snow tire making a track in the snow. | Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Technically, yes. Tires with the 3-Peak Mountain Symbol are typically all-season tires that use the softer rubber compound. While they might not perform as well as summer tires when the weather gets hot, you can still use them in the middle of the year. This negates the need for swapping out tires between seasons, which can cut down a lot on time and cost.

Some of the more popular tires are the Michelin X-ICE, Bridgestone Blizzak WS90, and the BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires.

Where can the 3-Peak Mountain Symbol be found?

If you look at the sidewall of the tire, you’ll be able to spot the little symbol with the snowflake and mountain peak on it. These types of tires are well worth the extra money you might spend on them, especially if you live in sub-zero climates during the wintertime.

And while non-3PMS tires will likely get you through the winter just fine, these specially-made and tested tires are second to none. Of course, if you can’t find them for your specific vehicle application, then a mud and snow tire should work well too.

RELATED: Do You Need Winter Tires if Your Car Is All-Wheel-Drive?