3 ways to identify winter tires when buying used or reconditioned tires


Yesterday we told you about how tire retailers are selling winter tires claiming they are imported used tires or the so-called “reconditioned” tires. Many of our readers asked us about how to spot winter tires from normal tires. Instead of answering those readers individually, we decided to write an article for the greater good.

Author’s Note: Tires cannot be reconditioned and I am merely using the word “reconditioned” for the sake of simplicity so that most people can relate to it.  

Winter tires are specially designed for use in colder temperatures and snow to maximize the road grip. Winter tires can be sourced easily through gray channels and offer considerably higher profit margins as compared to the regular ones, making them very lucrative to the tire retailers who try push these tires to the consumers with the intentions of making easy money.

Although, winter tires look quite similar to the regular tires, but there are ways by which you can tell if the tire being sold to you is a winter tire or a regular tire.


1. Tread Pattern

Pay a close attention to the tread pattern when buying tires. Winter tires have extra grooves called Sipes. These Sipes are made into the tread of the tire and look like small zigzag lines. If the tire dealer is pushing on a particular tire and you find these Sipes on it, then the tire dealer either does not know or knowingly trying to sell you winter tires. These Sipes are the easiest way to tell if the tire is a winter tire or a regular tire.

Apart from the Sipes, you will also notice that there are prominent blocks present in the tread pattern with a lot of gap between them. These blocks

Winter Tires Pakistan (5)   Winter Tires Pakistan (1)

Winter Tires Pakistan (2)


2. Sidewall Markings

Everything you need to know about a tire is written on the sidewall of the tire. From tire size, tire width, maximum speed and load ratings, tire pressure to the manufacturing date. Everything is there on the sidewall. Look at the sidewall of your tire and try to find “M/S” or “M+S” written on it just after the “R”. The “R” represents radial and the “M/S” represents mud and snow. It would look something like 175/70R13 M/S or 185/65R14 M+S.

In some cases, instead or M/S marking there is a mark of a Mountain and Snowflake present on the tire. If you cannot find M/S on the tire, but there is a mark of a Mountain and Snowflake then the tire is also a winter tire.

If the tire being sold to you has these marking on the sidewall then kindly stay away from it. Also, if you find that someone has erased these inscriptions by filing or rubbing then immediately look for another tire dealer as there’s a 90% chance the tire dealer is trying to sell you lemons.


Winter Tires Pakistan (3) Winter Tires Pakistan (4)


3. Tire Condition and Price

Closely inspect the condition of the tire and then compare it with the asking price of the tire. If the wear on the tire is very less and the asking price is too good to be true, then chances are the tire being sold is a winter tire. Winter tires are manufactured using a different rubber compound than the regular tires. Also, winter tires are mostly used during snow and wear less than regular tires when used in snow conditions. Most of the tires are imported from colder regions of the world including Canada and some parts of Europe. These tires are used during the winter only and some owners scrap them after using them for only one season. These tires are then exported to countries like Pakistan, Africa, Afghanistan, etc and sold at scrap prices to tire importers.

So remember, if the wear on the tire and its price both are low then inspect the tire very closely before making a purchase decision as it could be a winter tire.

Fahad Ullah

I build products and review cars for PakWheels. I am also famous for typing more words than anyone wants to read.

  • Sháhérýár M. Shéįķh

    Great Work Pakwheels…(y)

  • Tausif | توصیف

    Good job PW by posting this informative post. But sadly i had bought already.

  • Raja Muhammad Umar Iqbal

    Great Job

  • Ubaid

    You told us the difference but can u also tell us what are the side effects of using a winter tyre in summers or in case of Pakistan throughout the year?

  • Guest

    Many things in this article could be improved:

    1. The writer just proposed that everybody should just avoid winter tyres. The writer ignored the fact that many areas of Pakistan face heavy snowfall and/or temperatures below 7 degrees centigrade for a long time of the year. Winter tyres are practically very good for these areas.

    2. The writer does not at all know what M+S means and that part of the post is totally wrong. M+S is terminology for Mud+Snow and it does not have a standard definition till now. It just means that the manufacturer has put in some effort to provide more groove than summer or all-season tyres. The rough guideline is that M+S tyre has around 25% surface area dedicated for grooves. M+S can be written on soft-compound-winter-rubber tyres and it can also be written on tyres made with normal, all-season rubber compound. As you may know, snow occurs only in freezing temperatures but mud can occur in any temperature. FYI, nor-rubber-compound tyres made in Pakistan such as General tyres Radial ST and XP 2000 II also have/had M+S written on their sidewall, even though these tyres do not have a winter block pattern neither they use soft-compound-rubber.

    3. The writer is an armchair champion and does not know that on winter tyres it is clearly mentioned “Winter Studless” or “Winter Studded” and hence this article is not needed at all. The writer could have told in a single line that readers should look for “Winter studless” on the sidewall and that’s it.

    4. Every tyre manufacturer maintains different brand names according to different categories. All-season tyres have a certain name. Sport tyres have a certain name. Low-noise/comfort tyres have a certain name. Likewise Bridgestone markets their winter tyres under the Blizzak trademark. Similarly Yokohama has a famous series called Yokohama Advan, in which there are tyres like Advan db. But the winter tyres have “winter” mentioned in their names and are marketed “Yokohama Advan Winter”. Similarly Yokohama makes famous series for SUVs called Yokohama Geolander. They make variety of tyres for different terrain like A/T (all-terrain), M/T (mud terrain) and H/T (highway terrain), but the winter tyres are always clearly marked with -S suffix. E.g Geolander A/T-S, M/T-S etc.

    5. About the snowflake symbol: It is unrelated to M+S, even though it is usually found near the M+S. In fact since the snowflake symbol came around, the M+S symbol has become a bit obsolete. It is a Canadian standard so if the tyre was not meant for Canadian market most probably you will not find it. Even all-season tyres made from normal-rubber-compound can have it even if they are not made from winter-compound-soft-rubber and do not have the required chunky block tread pattern, sipings and grooves. Though any proper winter tyre should always have this mark, but since normal tyres can also have this mark, by now most probably so many pakwheelers have had quarrel with their shopkeeper over this because shopkeeper was selling them all-season tyre with this symbol and the customer, by grace of this gross misinformation decided to challenge the shopkeeper on this basis.

    6. The article does sound farcical. Just because a tyre is a winter tyre does not mean it is a lemon. Just because it is a grey import also does not mean it is a lemon. Only if a tyre is so old the rubber has expired can it prove dangerous. Stopping people from buying illegally smuggled tyres because it hurts the country is a good cause, gaining your intent through blatant misinformation is another.

    It is clear that the writer does not know anything at all about tyres, has never bought tyres for themselves neither has the ability to perform quick searches on the internet. In fact most posts made on pakwheels blog are entirely unnecessary because better, up-to-date and higher quality information is already available elsewhere on the internet. And even then the writers cannot sort it out. Extreme lack of capability. Why pakwheels is tolerating/promoting this disgusting level of misinformation in beyond fathomable.

  • Thank you for your valuable input. You could have avoided typing that long rant if only you had read the article carefully or your reading comprehension skills were up to the mark.

    1. “Winter tires are specially designed for use in colder temperatures and snow to maximize the road grip.” I have clearly mentioned here that winter tires are actually used in the colder temperatures and where there is snow. There is also a linked article detailing on the fact. But no, reading/listening is impossible for you?

    2. I have clearly mentioned that in the article as well. Again, a little reading would help everyone: “Everything you need to know about a tire is written on the sidewall of the tire. From tire size, tire width, maximum speed and load ratings, tire pressure to the manufacturing date. Everything is there on the sidewall. Look at the sidewall of your tire and try to find “M/S” or “M+S” written on it just after the “R”. The “R” represents radial and the “M/S” represents mud and snow. It would look something like 175/70R13 M/S or 185/65R14 M+S.”

    3. If you have me, you could have just written, I don’t like the writer and we could have again avoided this verbose demonstration of your hatred towards PakWheels and its blog. (Yes. I have been following your comments on every other article. Man you really hate use. Also, please not that in these used tires, the dealers just file that in most cases, hence there is a need to look at the tread pattern. Also, I have mentioned in the article that all that is to know about the tire is present at the sidewall for the buyer to read.

    5. You look like a shady tire dealer who were looting the customers prior to this article and when someone questioned you, you took it upon yourself to come and thrash us. This is not misinformation. If you have decided to read the article, you could have read that I am talking about used tires, which shady tire sellers term as reconditioned and sell in market. I am just trying to help people from shady tire dealers. Also, please give me a source/proof that normal tires available in Pakistan carry this symbol. I would be more than happy to correct myself. I am not a snob behind computer screen who would not correct himself.

    6. You are trying here to play with the lives of others by misinforming that winter tires are safe to run on during summers, which they clearly aren’t. Winter tires do not perform well in temperatures above 7 degrees celsius. The decreased performance includes harsh road noise, faster and uneven wear, decreased road grip and very poor fuel economy as the rubber compound used in these tires is very hard. Looks like you have ulterior motives or maybe you have your money invested and stuck in a huge shipment of these lemon tires, which you clearly want to sell along with your conscious to make a few quick bucks.

    Again, you are here with an agenda to trash PakWheels with no good intentions. Normally, I do not reply to internet trolls who hid behind “Guest” IDs, but you are here misinforming people so I decided to reply to you. I will not reply on your trash on other articles.

    Once again, thank your for your valuable feedback. We will see what we can do about it. Tell then, happy trolling. The internet is the only place where people like you can speak behind guest IDs. I do not want to take that away from you.