Winter Tires VS. All Weather Tires that carry the Severe Snow Service designation...What you need to know!

Recently we have noted some confusion as to what the "Mountain Snowflake" symbol means so we would like to clarify that now.

The Mountain Snowflake rating is a test that was brought out a few years ago to standardize tires that excel in certain winter conditions namely (straight line) traction testing on packed snow. Simply put it is an upgrade to the M+S rating to determine that a tire has a rubber compound that is sufficient for temperatures below 7*c.

This is where things get tricky. There are basically three different kinds of tires that carry this designation which are: All Weather, Winter and Winter Studded. We won't get into the Winter Studded option as its pretty self explanatory but we will discuss Winter vs. All Weather.

Examples of All Weather tires primarily used in the Jeep market are the Goodyear Duratracs or the BFG KO2's. These are tires that have received the Mountain Snowflake rating primarily due to their rubber compound. Since they carry a good all around tread design they are also in the All Terrain tire class which makes them considered an All Weather Tire. They perform better then an all season tire on all snow conditions including ice but not as good as a Winter Tire. They function like a regular tire when it comes to handling characteristics during wet (above *7c) and dry road usage. Basically they are designed to be a good all around tire that can be used 365 days a year.

Examples of Winter Tires would be Goodyear Ultra Grips and Sailun Ice Blazers which are both dedicated winter tires. These tires typically sacrifice handling characteristics on road ways above 7*c both in the wet and the dry. The trade off is they far surpass the the abilities of an All Weather tire in winter conditions especially when it comes to snow and ice.

As a scale using 4 designations from highest to lowest rating such as Excellent, Good, Sufficient and Poor you can compare the differences between All Weather and Winter like this when looking at conditions below 7*c:

All Weather:
Handling - Excellent
Wet Roads - Excellent
Hard Packed Snow - Sufficient
Soft Snow - Sufficient
Ice - Poor

Handling - Sufficient
Wet Roads - Sufficient
Hard Packed Snow - Good
Soft Snow - Excellent
Ice - Good

As you can see by the above there are positives and negatives to both kinds of tires that you need to take into consideration when purchasing tires especially for winter. There are two ways we look at this for the consumer. If it only makes sense to have one set of tires all year then we typically recommend an All Weather tire. This way the Jeeper gets a tire that does everything sufficiently. This is also sometimes a better option due to larger sizes being available.

If the Jeeper is more concerned about having purpose made tires for different activities then we will always recommend a dedicated winter tire if setup allows. Solely looking at tires from a winter aspect only there is no substitute for a dedicated Winter Tire which is NOT an All Weather one. Even though they both carry the Mountain Snowflake symbol the driving characteristics they offer in winter conditions are drastically different.

Although a long read we hope this clarifies things.

Just Jeeps Team