Many all-season tires have the “M+S” label on the sidewall, which stands for “mud and snow”. This label, however, is an in-house designation by the manufacturer and is more based on the geometry of the tread design. It does not mean the tire has been third-party tested to perform in the snow.
This snowflake inside the tri peak mountain, however, does mean it has been tested.
The mountain/snowflake symbol was established in 1999 through a joint effort by the U.S. Rubber Manufacturers Assocation (RMA) and the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC). The two teamed together to establish a standard for snow tires, which required each snow tire to attain 10% greater traction over a baseline tire during the specified American Society for Testing and Materials traction tests on snow.
|Mazda MPV Minivan||Ford F-150|
|Tire:||Michelin X-ice Xi3||Firestone All-seasons|
|0-10mph, sec:||3.2 sec||1.8 sec|
|0-20mph, sec:||5.6 sec||3.6 sec|
|0-30mph, sec:||7.8 sec||5.7 sec|
|0-40mph, sec:||10.7 sec||8.7 sec|
|20-40mph, sec:||5.1 sec||5.1 sec|
|0-40mph, feet:||308.6 ft||284.9 ft|
|0-40mph Difference:||n/a||-2.0 seconds, -21.7 ft|
|40-0mph, sec:||4.2 sec||5.1 sec|
|40-0mph, feet:||119.6 ft||153.7 ft|
|Difference::||n/a||+34.1 ft, 0.9 sec|
|0-40-0mph, sec:||15.0 sec||13.8 sec|
|0-40-0mph, feet:||428.1 feet||438.9 feet|
|Difference:||n/a||-1.2 sec/+10.8 feet|
In terms of time, the AWD truck had a significant advantage and, if we’re talking which vehicle is better set up for a snow-packed drag race, the silver truck wins. But let’s dig deeper into this. First, notice nearly all of the time gained by the truck is in first 10mph of the drag race. After that the two level out within 0.1 seconds of each other 20-40mph. This is believable because, when the throttle is applied from a standstill on a FWD car, it’s going to sqaut, causing the front to lose traction until the car settles (goodness, maybe I should install wheelie bars next time to confirm).
If we’re talking time to speed, or racing, the truck wins this round. But now let’s see what happens when we look at distance, which is the more important factor with safety. Looking at the numbers, it’s here that the X-Ice3-equipped minivan takes the crown, and again by a signficant margin of nearly two car lengths from 40-0mph!
The big difference between the two trucks and the minivan happens when the brakes are applied. All-season tires on cars or trucks—no matter if they're AWD or 2WD—just don’t hold a candle to snow tire-equipped cars. However, I really wanted to hold a candle because it was snot-freezing cold out during testing.
This is the tire mark of a Michelin X-Ice Xi3 tire. Look at the extra grooves created by the tire's siping.