What Is the 3PMSF Symbol And What Does It Mean?

The words “chains or traction tires required” can make any driver wonder if they have the right tires and devices to face winter driving conditions. While dedicated winter tires are the best option for deep snow and ice, tires with the three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF), sometimes called snowflake tires, are rated for severe winter driving. Let’s take a look at what the 3PMSF icon found on some tires means and what that designation implies for your winter-driving safety.

Where Can the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF) Symbol Be Found?

The 3PMSF symbol or icon, which appears as a snowflake inside the outline of a three-peaked mountain, often sits next to the letters M+S (Mud and Snow rated) on a tire’s sidewall. The 3PMSF icon indicates they have been made with a special rubber compound that stays pliable in colder conditions (at or below 40º F), giving them some grip on snow and ice-covered roads. While not every all-season tire is designed for severe winter driving conditions, the 3PMSF designation found on some A/T (all-terrain) and all-weather options means you will have more grip than a standard all-season tire.

Looking for peace of mind when facing severe winter conditions? Choose a set of snow tires. Dedicated winter tires are better at clearing away slush at higher speeds, as well as cornering and braking on snow-covered roads and icy conditions.

What Does the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol Mean?

When you find the 3PMSF symbol on the side of a tire, it indicates the tires meet certain U.S. Tire Manufacturer Association (USTMA) requirements for severe snow conditions. The symbol is there to help you identify if a tire will provide traction on medium-packed snow. These tires are not tested for braking and cornering on ice, but they will perform better than a standard all-season tire that only has the M+S (Mud and Snow) designation.

Where Am I Required to Have 3PMSF Tires?

The 3PMSF symbol means a tire meets specific requirements that designate it as a traction tire. If you are required to use chains or traction tires to navigate a mountain pass, the 3PMSF symbol could qualify, depending on the U.S. state and whether you’re driving a 4x4, AWD, or front-wheel drive. However, as mentioned, a set of dedicated winter tires with a higher void-to-lug ratio (bigger gaps between the tread) will always perform better in severe winter conditions.

Snowy Road with chains required sign

How Was the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol Introduced?

The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) established specific tests to qualify for the 3PMSF designation. Since 1999, manufacturers have met and exceeded those requirements, making today’s tires some of the safest and best designed on the road. Find the tires you need for your next outing at Les Schwab.

Let Les Schwab Help You With Your 3PMSF Tire Needs

Your safety is among our top priorities. From all-season and all-weather tires that meet 3PMSF qualifications to dedicated winter tires, our pros will help you find what you need to make it there and back again. We understand the requirements of your local climate and road conditions and what tires will fit and work best on your vehicle.