Some Winter Tires Earn New Ice Certification

In some parts of the country, it’s time to put on winter tires. If you need a new set this year, you may notice something different — some winter tires are now rated specifically for how well they help a car brake on ice.

The sidewall of a tire is full of information most of us never consider.

Related: Snow Tires Guide — Everything You Need to Know

Some of that information comes through icons. The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) governs these. Since 1999, it has allowed manufacturers to emblazon a symbol on tires that perform better in specific snow testing. It looks like a 3-peaked mountain with a snowflake inside. It means, according to the group, that the tires have at least 110% the traction of an all-season tire in “medium-packed snow.”

Now, some winter tires will wear a second symbol: a one-peaked mountain with a jagged snowpack on top.

Related: Are Winter Tires Worth the Cost?

Tire manufacturer Nokian says it means the tires “perform at least 18% better than a standard reference tire” when braking on ice. says Nokian’s tires “may be the first in a new category of winter tires” because they earn the marking. The test is performed three times on a flat surface of ice.

But it’s not something Nokian made up. Car and Driver notes it was “approved by the technical committee at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).” The Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 (studded) and Hakkapeliitta R5s (non-studded) appear to be the first tires on the U.S. market to bear the stamp. But there’s no reason other manufacturers couldn’t earn it.

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