The M+S marking
The M+S marking on tyres stands for 'mud and snow' and can be found on all winter tyres. It tells you that the tyre tread is designed to cope with muddy or snow-covered roads. You will therefore also find this marking on 4x4 tyres and all-season tyres. Depending on the brand it may be displayed on the tyre in a different format: M+S, M&S, MS, M/S.
Is the M+S marking on tyres reliable? The M+S marking is a declaration made by the manufacturer and is not subject to any particular standards or tests. Therefore, this marking does not offer a solid guarantee as regards the tyre's performance in winter conditions.
The 3PMSF marking
The 3PMSF (Three Peak Mountain Snowflake) label, with a picture of a snowflake against a mountain peak, certifies the tyre's performance on snow-covered surfaces. In order to obtain the label, winter tyres are subjected to testing intended to determine their traction capability on snow. 3PMSF tyres are a guarantee of secure performance on snow.
The 3PMSF marking is therefore a reliable means of determining performance when purchasing winter tyres. Tyres which come with this label are often more expensive than tyres with M+S only, as the structure, tread and composition of the rubber are specifically adapted to winter conditions. However in some countries, winter regulations are pushing the snowflake symbol, that is why tyres with 3PMSF are getting more and more popular. You will find not only winter specialist tyres with this marking but also all season tyres.
If you want a guarantee of tyre performance in winter conditions, in particular on snow, look for the 3PMSF label on your tyres.