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Winter Tires Symbol

Winter Tires Symbol

If you’re a Canadian driver who has taken the time to inspect their tires, then you’ve probably noticed a small jagged symbol with a snowflake inside of it.

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That’s called the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol and it denotes that the tire has met the required performance criteria in severe snow or winter conditions. This small symbol is typically found on the sidewall of the tire, and while in the past it was a designation specific to winter tires, it is now featured on some all-season and all-weather tires too. As mentioned above, the symbol sort of looks like a multi-point triangle (or a mountain with three peaks) that has a snowflake inside of it. The symbol was developed by The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) and the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC) in the 1990s to indicate that a certain tire offers superior traction on snow or ice-covered surfaces. Thus, if you live somewhere in Canada that experiences freezing temperatures, snow, ice, or slush for months on end in the winter, purchasing tires with this symbol is a must.

How Tires Earn the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol

Now that you know what the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol looks like, what it means, and where to find it on your tire, you might be wondering how exactly a tire earns such a designation. As mentioned above, the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol was a joint effort on behalf of The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association and the Rubber Association of Canada. Both organizations sought a way to help North American drivers easily identify tires that were engineered to perform in winter conditions. As such, in 1999 they developed a snow traction test that all tires had to pass to receive what we now know as the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol. More specifically, the USTMA and RAC came up with a performance-based standard to identify passenger car and light truck tires that achieved a traction index equal to or greater than 110 (compared to a reference tire that earned a traction rating of 100).

How Winter Tires are Tested

When testing any product, there is a standard that must be met. Testing standards are defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). However, tire manufacturers around the world can decide whether they wish to conduct the testing in-house or hire a third party to do so on their behalf. The results of these tests determine whether the tire manufacturer can certify each tire product with the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol. To test each tire, a testing facility will simulate winter conditions and drive the vehicle through such conditions. Specific conditions include air temperature, snow temperature, and snow consistency. As the rubber compound of winter tires is soft, it performs best in cold temperatures of 7 degrees Celsius or below. Thus, the simulation is conducted in a cold environment. Next, for optimal testing conditions, the temperature of the snow must be between -15 and -30 degrees Celsius. Finally, the consistency of the snow in the simulation is usually medium-pack (it’s important to note that tires are not tested in hard-packed or icy snow, nor soft or powdery snow - vital information for Canadian drivers who might be driving in these other types of snow conditions). Manufacturers believe medium-pack snow is the best testing material because it will prove if the tire tread is capable of gripping and biting into it.

Where to Look for the Winter Tires Symbol

The Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol can be located on the sidewall of the tire, if it has received this designation. Generally, you’ll find this symbol on all winter or snow tires, as well as on some all-weather, all-season, or all-terrain tires. However, you typically won’t find it on M+S (Mud and Snow) tires, despite the name. This is because M+S is a designation without a set performance standard. As such, the reality is that many M+S, as well as many all-season tires, do not contain the necessary tread features or capabilities to be a safe or effective choice in winter conditions. When in doubt, look for the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol, as it has a long history of testing that ensures tires with this symbol will provide at least some traction in harsh winter conditions.

Shop Winter Tires at Tire Warehouse

Looking to invest in winter tires? Choose Tire Warehouse for all your winter tire needs. We have been providing Canadians with quality winter tires for over 40 years. We carry tires from all the leading tire brands, including Michelin, Bridgestone, Firestone, Toyo, GT Radial, BFGoodrich, Radar, and more. We also have several winter tires and all-weather tires that are Three Peak Mountain Snowflake certified, so you can rest easy knowing they will perform well through a Canadian winter. Tire Warehouse offers unbeatable savings, an unparalleled tire inventory, low shipping fees of just $5 per tire, and fast delivery times of 2 to 4 business days. Contact us today to speak to a tire expert and learn more about our Three Peak Mountain Snowflake-certified tire offerings. Learn more about winter tires vs all terrain

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