What does M+S tyre marking mean?
A tyre is a special application product. Each tyre model can be used with maximum efficiency only in certain road conditions. Therefore, thinking about safety, manufacturers design and produce models of several groups and types, and drivers choose them very carefully.
On some tyre sidewalls you can see large letters M+S (sometimes M&S or MS), which mean Mud+Snow. It is necessary to clarify what is behind this marking.
It should be understood that in this case the word "snow" does not mean that these are winter tyres in the usual sense of the word. However, such tyres can be used in winter, because due to tread compound formula, their flexibility at low temperatures is better than that of summer models, and the tread with deep grooves feel comfortable on snow.
Full winter tyres are marked with a “Three-Peak Mountain Snow Flake” symbol (abbreviated as 3PMSF), made of frost-resistant rubber and have unique tread pattern. These types of tread patterns are characterized by multiple lamella which increase the number of cutting edges expelling a micro thin layer of water that appear on the ice surface, as well as by efficient drainage channels and tread blocks to achieve not only snow grip, but also good traction on clean asphalt surface. However, there are tyres marked M+S and 3PMSF, and such models can be considered winter. The M+S mark does not mean so much the season of a tyre use, but rather the type of surface on which it behaves best. That is, it is a loose surface such as mud, rough snow, sand, loose soil and small pebbles. These are the conditions in which large, far-apart tread blocks of Mud+Snow tyres perform well. The snowy surface is just one of the cases. Mud + Snow tyres are often used for cars that drive a lot on non-surfaced roads, primarily for off-the-road vehicle and pickups. On the other hand, M+S tyres tend to hold the road worse when maneuvering at speed, especially on dry and clean asphalt.
In conclusion, we would like to note that you should not choose tyres solely by the sidewall marking. Because M + S, 3PMSF and AllSeason categories are too general and each of them has models of an individual focus. For example, one winter tyre is better for clean cold asphalt, another for wet asphalt, a third for icy surface, and a fourth for fresh loose snow. Also keep in mind that winter tyres themselves are divided into two subtypes: tyres for mild European winter and arctic (Nordic) tyres. Each subtype is good for its region and not very useful in another.
Therefore, it is better to choose tyres by comparing the characteristics of specific models and paying attention to the results of their testing by independent organizations or automobile magazines.