In regions with cold climates, such as Michigan, preparing for winter often includes equipping vehicles with winter tires. However, many rely on all-season tires even in harsh conditions. Recently, a new category of tires has emerged: “all-weather” tires.
All-weather tires are distinguished from traditional all-season tires by the three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) symbol on their sidewall. This symbol indicates that the tire has surpassed a specific performance standard, offering at least 110 percent of the traction of a standard all-season tire, based on ASTM E1136-14. This rating provides more information to consumers compared to the M+S marking, which only relates to tread geometry.
A key advantage of all-weather tires is their suitability for winter conditions without the need for seasonal swapping. This is particularly beneficial in areas with mandatory winter tire regulations, like Quebec and parts of northern Europe. In fact, in Europe, the only all-season tires available are of the all-weather variety.
Among the all-weather tires popular in the U.S., the Michelin CrossClimate2 stands out. It offers a six-year/60,000-mile treadwear warranty, competitive with many non-3PMSF all-season tires. Most winter tires lack a treadwear warranty, but all-weather tires usually include one, indicating their durability.
Dedicated winter tires, designed for cold conditions, wear out faster in warmer weather. The industry faces a trade-off between wet and cold traction, but the development of 3PMSF tires that perform well in both wet and cold conditions has been a significant achievement. These tires can be used year-round and meet the standards for regions with strict winter tire requirements.
Despite the growing popularity of all-weather tires, the light-truck tire category is still mostly separate from this trend, although many light-truck tires are 3PMSF certified. A comprehensive list of available all-weather passenger tires shows the gradual adoption of the 3PMSF symbol in the passenger car sector.
Originally exclusive to winter tires, the 3PMSF symbol represents a balance of tread pattern, compound, and depth suitable for various conditions. As explained by Woody Rogers from Tire Rack, achieving this balance is crucial for any tire, including those designed for snow. While the range of effective all-season tires is expanding, not all drivers may be satisfied with the performance of a 3PMSF-rated all-season tire.