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Do my tires conform?

What you need to know about all-season tires…

Volvo V60 Cross Country

There has been a bit of uncertainty about conforming and non-conforming tires on new Volvo sold by US Military Sales.

Cars purchased from Volvo US Military Sales fully comply with USA specifications. That means that your Volvo meets all US Department of Transportation and EPA regulations for the model year it was built.  This allows you to register your Volvo in all 50 states with no alterations.

This is not true for all European countries. A lot depends on the host nation’s Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) whether you must alter your car to conform to the host nation’s regulations. In Germany and Italy, the SOFA agreement allows you to drive your US Spec vehicle with little or no alterations.  As an example, in Germany, you need not undergo the stringent TÜV inspections. USAREUR has inspection stations on most military installations.

With tires, it is a different issue. According to Germany’s rules of the road, there is no specific time period for the use of winter tires.  In the provisions of the 2010 regulations, the winter tire requirement is situational. This means that in wintry conditions such as ice, snow or slush the use of mud and snow (M+S) is compulsory.  However, as of 1 January 2018, the M+S identification is no longer sufficient.  Only winter tires and all-weather tires with the so-called Alpine Symbol conform.

Winter tire symbolSo… what is the difference between all-season and all-weather tires?


All season tires are a great option for drivers who live in moderate climates and do not frequently encounter extreme cold, ice and snow during the winter months. In Germany, as well as other European countries, having the right tire matters.  Winter road conditions can be unpredictable and these conditions challenge tires to provide as much traction as possible. There are specific unique features for winter tires: rubber compounds, tread patterns and depth as well as biting edges.  In extreme cold temperatures, the rubber compound of an all-season or summer tire stiffens resulting in a deterioration of traction ability.  All-weather and winter tires have rubber compounds that remain flexible allowing the tire to grip better.

In terms of all-weather tires, they combine the best of both worlds – they perform well in both summer and winter seasons. According to the Kal Tire study, all-weather tires stopped 77 cm sooner on wet and 33 cm sooner on dry pavement when compared to all-season tires.  Of course winter tires outperform them all in wintry conditions. But, then again, they are designed to.

Volvo chose to mount all-season tires on their US Spec models. Volvo mounts summer tires on their European models. Safety is of utmost importance when driving.  European countries have set the regulations for their roads and we all must comply.  Having appropriate tires is the car owner’s responsibility.  We shouldn’t wear flip-flops and Bermuda shorts with a t-shirt when it’s freezing outside – why use all-season tires if they are not designed for winter weather?

Should you have questions or need assistance with your tires, Capitol Motors is happy to assist with your summer or winter tire needs. Feel free to contact us.

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