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Looking Beyond The Brand Name: How To Find The Best Winter Tires

There’s more to finding the best winter tires than defaulting to the big brand names. Today’s post teaches you how to look beyond the logo to find the best winter tires for your unique needs and budget.

Read on or contact your local TIRECRAFT specialist for help finding the right winter tires for 2021.

Start With The Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol (3PMS)

The Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMS) symbol is found on the tire sidewall, and it’s exactly what the name suggests: a symbol depicting a three-peaked mountain with a snowflake slapped in the middle.

Sometimes known as the “Alpine symbol,” the 3PMS helps consumers identify snow-worthy tires at a glance, indicating that the winter tire in question meets minimum industry standards for cold-weather handling.

But the 3PMS symbol shouldn’t be your only point of reference. After all, to receive this marking, winter tires need only complete the ASTM F1805 acceleration traction test with a performance measured at <110% of the standard reference test tire (SRTT). And according to research by Smithers Rapra, an industry-leading rubber and plastics tester, “110% isn’t really good enough” for true snow tires, which ought to perform at 130-150% of the SRTT.

Check For Adequate Winter Tire Tread Depth

Tread depth is a vertical measurement from the top of the tire’s rubber (i.e. where the rubber meets the road) to the bottom of the tire’s deepest grooves. According to the Automobile Protection Association, the best winter tires require a minimum tread depth of 6/32” or 4.8 millimeters. But remember: this is the bare minimum—in fact, Consumer Reports classifies 6/32” as half-tread depth, which is to say it’s far from “best in class” for the winter tire category.

To make sure your winter tires meet this minimum requirement—and ideally, exceed it—simply ask your TIRECRAFT dealer for help. Not only will we give you accurate tread depth information for the product you’ve chosen, but we’ll also create a shortlist of recommendations based on your budget, driving habits, and tread depth requirements.

Alternatively, you can use the “quarter test” to check tread depth on your own. Simply grab a standard Canadian quarter and stick the caribou into the deepest part of the tread, nose-first. If the tread covers the nose, you’re probably safe; if it’s still visible, these winter tires won’t do.

Look For Focused Winter Safety Features

Ask your TIRECRAFT winter tire specialist about the following three features:

  • Specialized rubber compounds that do not harden in the cold, providing better grip and increased traction. These may contain silica or other compounds depending on the brand.
  • Specialized sipes, those little angled “cuts” in the tread design that come across each lug, creating more edges to bite into water and snow. To learn more about siping, check out our TIRECRAFT Tire Talk.
  • Specialized grooves or “voids,” which allow water to escape from underneath the tire to keep the rubber on the road.

Book A Free Winter Tire Consultation At Your Local TIRECRAFT

Use the Find a TIRECRAFT tool to find a winter tire specialist near you and start comparing all the best winter tire brands in-store.