By now, you’re already fed up with the different tire types. Blink, and everyone starts talking about a new one you’ve never heard of.
Not to worry; studded tires are just winter tires with studs. So let’s find out what they can do for you and whether you should consider them.
Here’s the short answer to whether studded tires make a difference:
Anyone who uses studded tires does so mainly for the adequate traction they provide. They’re the best option on slippery roads. However, before rushing to buy them, you should know more, like when they work and when they don’t.
What Are the Benefits of Using Studded Tires?
Their number one benefit remains the primary reason they exist; incredible grip on icy roads.
If you’re still confused about what studs are, they’re similar to the cleats underneath soccer boots. You may know them as spikes, and they help soccer players maintain stability on the pitch.
In cars, they do much more than that.
Since they protrude from the tires, the metal, rubber or plastic studs dig into the ice while driving. This is opposed to non-studded tires that only skim the surface of the ice. As a result of their stability, cornering and handling are easier on ice.
This grip ensures that the driver has more overall stability on the road. You’re also less at risk of swaying around.
Studded tires also have superior braking distance on icy roads. It’s a fancy way of saying they halt quicker when you hit the brakes. This is owing to their remarkable traction on icy roads.
It’s also expected since the metal, rubber or plastic studs find their way into the ice. Nothing can stop a car faster than ice-piercing tires.
The most underrated benefit of studded tires is their ease when the weather changes. With them, there’s no need to engulf your tires with tire chains. More on that later on.
When Are Studded Tires Recommended?
They’re only recommended in the winter. However, using them any other time is not advised and may not even be legal in your location.
Even in the winter, studded tires aren’t perfect in all scenarios. They only work well on ice or compact snow.
There’s a reason they’re only effective on such terrain. These surfaces have the most slippery driving conditions in the winter. They are not only slippery, but leveled as well.
The studs act as ice breakers to give the tires more grip. So if you’re driving on regular snow, there’s not much ice to break, is there? They’d sink into the snow, and that makes them useless.
Therefore, they’re better on flat surfaces like black ice or flattened snow than on fluffy snow.
So if you frequently drive on roads plagued with black ice, we recommend studded tires for you. They are also great if you usually go on main roads with a high frequency of moving cars.
Not sure what we mean? More details are below.
Are Studded Tires Good for Highway Driving?
During the winter, studded tires re excellent for highway driving. That’s because cars are always moving on highways.
Recall that studded tires perform well on ice and compact snow. Well, snow doesn’t get more compact than on highways.
The constant movement of cars presses the snow together, changing its form from powdered to solid. That’s why it’s pretty difficult to find fluffy snow on highways.
With studded tires, you’re covered and have very little to worry about.
They’re also great for city driving too. City roads are similar to highways since they are usually busy with traffic. Hence many cars compress the snow too.
When there’s excess traffic, cars can shield the roads from the sun. This may increase the formation of black ice on the road, and what’s better for ice than studs.
Black ice is likely to form on bridges and overpasses because of the airflow and the shade underneath them. While driving on highways, be careful when you approach these places.
Other than during the winter, studs can damage highways.
Do Studded Tires Really Make a Difference?
Studded tires may be the difference between life and death on icy roads. Not to scare you, but you’re less likely to collide with another car because of the shorter braking distance.
That’s also a fancy way of saying they are vital.
Studs aren’t just an additional feature added to tires to make people feel good about their wheels. It’s an essential part of driving in the winter.
So much so that without studs, you’re legally required to fix tire chains to increase your traction in extreme conditions in some places.
Hence, with studs, you’d have peace of mind while driving.
You can also drive faster in these extreme conditions than with tire chains. This is because studs are stuck to your tires while chains, well, they’re just all over the place. So, with chains, you generally have to maintain a speed of about 20 to 30 miles per hour.
Studs are also safer on ice since chains are more likely to get stuck by a branch on the road. There’s also the possibility of chains breaking.
Different states have different snow chain laws. Sometimes, you’d be mandated to put the chains while passing certain roads, and there’s usually a sign.
These are the stressful limitations you can avoid with studded tires.
Do Studded Tires Get Worse Gas Mileage?
They have more rolling resistance because of their impressive grip. Although the grip is usually their most significant advantage, it’s also a disadvantage regarding gas mileage.
However, the whole point of having studded tires is to have more rolling and sliding resistance. That’s why they don’t slide on the ice.
So which would you instead choose? Better fuel economy or safety?
We figured you’d choose safety anytime. More so since over 22% of car crashes annually in the United States are weather-related.
Also, you’d barely hear people complain about the gas mileage of studded tires. They probably feel it’s worth the extra costs.
Thus, studs consume more fuel.
There’s also the fact that studded tires are heavier since they contain several lightweight studs. A heavier tire means more drag, which means more fuel consumption.
Still, the increased weight is negligible. So while studded tires may have worse gas mileage, they’re worth it.
Do Studded Tires Wear Faster?
Under the recommended driving conditions, they shouldn’t wear out faster.
When you drive on ice or compact snow, the studs only perform their function and must wear out, eventually. Still, they don’t wear out faster than non-studded tires.
It would be best if you remembered that driving them in the summer or on dry pavement is detrimental. It creates so much noise, damages the roads and ultimately causes your tires to wear out faster.
These are the factors that could make studded tires wear faster. There’s also the risk of a blowout occurring.
However, your tires should be fine if you observe all guidelines. Just maintain the correct tire pressure always and rotate your tires at intervals.
Under ideal conditions, your studded tires may last five winters or more.
Do Mechanics and Car Dealers Recommend Studded Tires?
Many experts recommend studded tires for winter driving. However, they’d usually recommend an extra set of tires, too.
Studded tires should only be used for the winter. That’s why you’d need tires for other seasons. If you already have studded tires, you’re better off with summer tires instead of all-season tires for the summer.
This is because all-season tires do not perform exceptionally in the winter or summer as well as studded or summer tires. Instead, they’re only designed to perform averagely under either weather conditions.
It may seem expensive to maintain two sets of tires and spares. That’s why many try to get away with using only two studded tires in winter. However, no mechanic or dealer would ordinarily recommend using just two studded tires.
They’d always recommend a complete set.
Not using a complete set of studded tires puts you more at risk. It would cause your car to have uneven traction while braking and varying stability while cornering.
Ultimately, it could lead to losing steering control where your vehicle spins and collides with another car.
So, yes, they recommend studded tires, but use them on all four wheels. The disadvantages of using an incomplete set could fill up a page.
Although studded tires are adequate, they’re not for everyone.
Before buying studded tires, ask yourself a few questions. They include; are you going to drive a lot during the winter, or you’ll consider other alternatives?
Also, if you drive short distances, usually around the neighboring streets, you might be better off with non-studded tires. Since there’s generally less traffic, the snow on such roads remains fluffy.
Ultimately, if there’s a low chance that you’ll encounter ice or compact snow during the season, get non-studded tires. Studded tires are liabilities if there’s no ice. So it’ll be better to use tire chains instead.
Also, note that some states don’t allow studded tires at all. For example, states like Hawaii, Florida, Illinois and Louisiana rarely allow studs unless under particular conditions.
If you’re frequently driving on ice or snow-packed highways, you’ll get good value for your money if you buy studded tires.