Rolling Safe on Snowy Roads: Snow-Rated All Terrain Tires for Your Truck or SUV

March 11th, 2022 by

A snow covered tire is shown in close up.

With an average snowfall of 14.8 inches, it might be time to start thinking about searching for tire stores in Cincinnati to exchange your old, worn-out tires for some new, snow-rated tires. It’s important that your car is fitted with the proper tires to ensure maximum safety and capability when driving in adverse conditions. However, that doesn’t mean you have to have separate sets of winter and summer tires––snow-rated all-terrain tires give truck and SUV owners an option that is good all year round.

Driving in winter weather can be difficult. Snow, sleet, hail will all make your commute as challenging as possible. But don’t worry too much; McCluskey Chevrolet is here to help. To aid you in your understanding of this type of tire, we’ll be explaining what they are, their performance standards, and the testing they go through in order to garner their rating. Since most people these days are driving an SUV or some kind of truck, we’ll explain why a snow-rated all-terrain tire is a great option for either. Let’s get started!

What is a Snow-Rated Tire?

In basic terms, a snow-rated tire is any tire that has specifically been tested to meet a standard for traction on snow. However, this does not mean they are winter tires. In fact, the tires we’re looking at––snow-rated all-terrain tires––are technically not winter tires at all. All-terrain tires are designed primarily for warm-weather driving on both paved roads and dirt trails. However, thanks to their blocky tread and rugged construction, some all-terrain tires offer enough grip to perform well in snowy winter weather.

Snow-rated all-terrain tires are marked with a unique symbol on their sidewall: the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF). The 3PMSF indicates that the tire in question has met the performance measures required of a snow-rated tire, known as the ASTM E1136-14. This is a spin test that measures acceleration traction on medium-packed snow. In simpler terms, this means they are testing to see how much grip the tire can get on a snowy surface from a dead stop, which, as we all know from experience, can be very tricky.

3PMSF stands in stark difference to standard Mud and Snow (M+S) rated tires. For one, 3PMSF tires are more rigorously tested than a run-of-the-mill M+S tire, which does not require any kind of performance standard beyond meeting a certain level of tread design. While tread geometry is important to the performance of any tire, the fact that 3PMSF tires must pass practical testing makes them a better winter option.

The performance standard around which the ASTM test is based came about in 1999 by the United States Tire Manufacturers Association and the Rubber Association of Canada. These organizations jointly established the requirement that any snow-rated tire must have a traction index equal to or over 110, a 10% improvement over the standard reference tire. This standard, along with the 3PMSF mark, allows drivers to more easily establish which tires provide higher levels of traction in snow.

It should be noted that while snow-rated all-terrain tires will help your vehicle deal with winter weather, they are not the same as dedicated winter tires. Dedicated winter tires are utilized in places that see an average snowfall well above that of Cincinnati. They are designed for those who are traveling in unplowed and often icy winter conditions but cannot be used in warmer weather.

However, that doesn’t mean that a 3PMS-marked all-terrain tire can’t handle packed surfaces and basic slippery conditions. Although Cincinnati’s public services are dedicated to maintaining safe driving conditions for residents and visitors, having the added security of a snow-rated all-terrain tire will certainly give you more confidence when driving in winter weather.

A white car is shown parked in the snow after visiting tire stores in Cincinnati.

What Tires Do You Need for Your Truck or SUV?

Any discussion about tires must begin with the basic question: do they fit my car? Many pickup trucks and SUVs can handle tires that are slightly larger or smaller than the tires that they left the factory with. So that gives you some wiggle room when it comes to selection. However, at McCluskey Chevrolet, we always recommend sticking with the factory tire size.

Many truck and SUV drivers prefer all-terrain tires because they provide solid performance on paved roads and dirt trails. All-terrain tires are a great compromise between standard all-season tires intended for road use and blocky mud-terrain tires that are designed for off-road adventures. While all-terrain tires may be slightly louder on the road and may not offer as much traction on the trail, they are a great compromise for many drivers. In addition, their tougher construction and more aggressive tread gives them better snow performance than all-season tires.

Benefits of Snow-Rated Tires for Trucks and SUVS

The benefits of utilizing snow-rated tires on your truck or SUV are numerous––even if you have four-wheel drive. For starters, while the safety perks of owning a larger vehicle are part of what makes them so appealing, they do have disadvantages when it comes to driving in snow. One is weight.

Weight has the advantage of sticking your car firmly to the earth, but it can also make things tricky when stopping is concerned. If there is one thing that is important in terms of winter driving, it’s being able to stop before disaster strikes. With snow-rated tires, your chances of making a life-saving stop increase. It must also be remembered that while four-wheel drive will help you get moving in slippery conditions, it will not help you stop any faster––only a good set of tires can do that.

The other safety factor to take into account is rollover risk. While the rollover rate for trucks and SUVs has dropped significantly due to increased safety technologies, they are still more susceptible than a vehicle with lower ground clearance. Therefore, as mentioned above, having a set of tires that’s rated to provide traction on slippery roads and aid in stopping is very important.

Matching Your Tires

Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that nearly all trucks and SUVs sold these days have either all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. This makes it even more important to make sure all your tires are matching. Using different tires on different wheels at the same time can overstress and even damage your all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive system. Essentially, you want to match the tires to the same brand, design, and tread depth.

So, let’s say you’re looking at a 255/70R17 Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure snow-rated all-terrain tire. All four of your tires are going to need to specifically match that. This seems straightforward enough, but you also need to keep wear and age in mind. You never want to simply put one or two new tires on a four-wheel drive truck––this is also why regular tire rotations are important to even out the wear on the tires. It’s also important to note that having all four tires inflated to the same PSI increases fuel economy and traction.

A snow rated tire is shown expelling snow.

The Rest of the Year

We’ve shown you that there is an added winter safety element to a snow-rated all-terrain tire, but how does it hold up for the rest of the year? Well, since it’s designed to be an all-terrain tire, it will continue to serve your needs throughout spring, summer, and fall. They will handle rainstorms, excessive heat, muddy roads, and flash freezes with ease.

Where a winter tire is intended to be seasonal change out, a snow-rated all-terrain tire is meant for year-round use. It just so happens to have the extra added benefit of being able to handle the snow has the added benefit of being able to handle snow. So you won’t have to go around changing out your tires whenever the sight of the first snow greets your eyes in the morning.

Outfit Your Truck With the Right Tires!

Are you ready to take the leap and get some snow-rated tires? We have an excellent selection to choose from, such as Bridgestone, Continental, Michelin, and more. Winter does not need to be approaching for you to make this decision. As we said, all-terrain tires, even snow-rated all-terrain tires, are competent and capable across all seasons. We hope you’ll consider giving them a go.