M + S (mud + snow) tires are a type of tire whose tread and compound are specifically designed to perform optimally on complicated surfaces, beyond asphalt, in broken and slippery areas. In principle, it should be the one that cars use to go off-road… but in our car testing section we see that the majority of SUVs have asphalt tires.
Nobody questions the benefits of good 4×4 traction (remember that there are several types of all-wheel drive on the market, each one more or less suitable for the use you are going to make of it), but in the end the tires are the only one. element that remains in contact with the ground. And with good M + S tires it is possible to obtain more than notable results on complex off-road terrain.
How do they become better off road?
Many models of M + S tires that you will find on the market achieve that better extra performance on difficult surfaces thanks to an aggressive rolling pattern (in the drawing you can see larger grooves and grooves to “grip” better on the ground and not lose traction .
Another adds a silica and rubber compound to the usual tire, with softer compounds… and even so that they operate at maximum performance when temperatures drop. And it is precisely with this last aspect that doubts and questions begin to arise, such as the following:
Are they winter tires?
M+ S tires are not necessarily winter tires… although all tires prepared for driving in winter conditions carry the M+S code. Not everyone is prepared to carry out their duties when there is a lot of snow or ice. For this, there are different categories, depending on whether they are more or less indicated for the most adverse weather conditions:
- All-Season Tires: They carry the nomenclature “All Seasons (all the stations). These are tires with a pattern with more grooves, better prepared than summer tires to evacuate water and not lose traction with some snow or ice. As their name indicates, they can be used all year round, since they perform much better at high temperatures than winter ones (with similar performance to summer ones). They may have the M+S code, Therefore, in addition to performing reasonably well on sheets of ice and snow, they can travel off-road with ease. They are perfect for SUV owners who regularly drive on dirt roads and live in environments with cold, but not extreme, winters.
- Winter tires: They are specific for moving on snowy and icy roads, at very low temperatures, thanks to the fact that they have greater evacuation routes, their compound is indicated to work better in the cold and they have sheets on the studs which is what makes them grip to the snow. They are substitutes for chains (in this video you can see their capabilities).
Also called “alpines”, you will recognize them because the letters appear in their profile M+S next to a drawing of a three-peaked mountain with a snowflake symbol inside. It is the 3PMSF (Three Peak Mountain Snow Flake), it is a mountain of 3 peaks with a snowflake, a symbol that is awarded after exhaustive testing. They can be used in summer… but they wear out very quickly when the thermometers rise. These are the questions you should ask yourself if you plan to ride them.
- Nordic tires: They are only used in places with very extreme winters, close to the polar circle. They have more marked grooves and sometimes metal spikes on the sides that allow them to dig into the ice (they are not allowed in all countries since they damage the asphalt a lot if it is not very frozen).
Much of the confusion lies in the fact that the compound used in M+S tires for their properties is also used in extreme tires. That is why they are also called All Season tires.
In principle, all high-end All Season tires, produced by large manufacturers sold in Europe, carry the M+S and 3PMSF labeling. The problems arise when using M+S tires from the North American market (where there are many states that use them) and those from unknown Asian manufacturers (be careful, not all of those from this source are bad). It is also not advisable to trust old tires that are more than ten years old, when tire labeling regulations were more lax.
Equipping an M+S tire also has its side effects. To begin with, your pricealthough the boom in SUV and crossover sales is gradually making the difference between a summer tire and an M+S increasingly smaller.
There is also a lot of talk about a greater loudness and vibrations, but believe us, it is very little and you must be behind the wheel of a car with exceptional interior insulation to notice it. Driving comfort is not the same as with summer tires, but there is not a huge difference.
When they began to reach the market they did have a worse cornering grip and it was easier for them to squeak when facing a fast guro. But, with each new tire that hits the market, these differences are mitigated… and will continue to do so.
The same goes for your useful life. The new silica compounds have made the durability almost comparable to that of a summer tire and there is only a reduction of between 5% and 15% (depending on use and the specific tire model).