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Dec 16 2020

Studded or Non-Studded Winter Tires: What Should You Buy?

 

Who says winter says winter tires. But should you buy studded winter tires or not? What about all-season tires? To help you decide, here's what the experts have to say.

Almost every year, everyone who lives in the most remote places asks themselves this question: should you buy studded winter tires or not?

Before you decide, take advice from the Transportation Authority in your area, as many of them ban studded tires due to their tendency to destroy the road surface. Despite their handling on snow and ice, these asphalt enemies dig through the dry pavement, leaving behind holes for water to pour into, increasing the risk of dangerous hydroplaning year-round. As they devour the pavement, studded tires also create dust that pollutes the air.

What are Studded Tires?

For the uninitiated, spikes are pencil lead size pins encased in a tungsten carbide casing that sits just below the tread surface of the tire. The pins protrude from the end of their casing and tread to "bite" into the icy surface.

Why are They Still Popular?

Some are convinced beyond reason that studded tires are the best way to improve traction in winter. Some areas that are particularly prone to snow and ice build roads using a rubberized asphalt mix that is more resistant to studded tires.

Do Studded Tires Really Work?

On icy roads where the temperature is zero or near, studded tires work great.

  • However, to the surprise of many, a study conducted in Alaska found that under almost all circumstances, non-studded winter tires perform as well or even better than studded versions!
  • Experts suggest tire technology has reached the stage where it can dispense with the spikes devastating the road network.

Pros and Cons of Non-Studded Winter Tires:

  • The same study showed that non-studded winter tires offer comparable, or even better, performance on snow than studded cornering tires.
  • While studded tires retain their effectiveness longer, they also wear out faster and can be expensive.

Consumer Reports Study:

A few years ago, a Consumer Reports study found that while studded tires perform well on ice, non-studded tires are just as good as they are. The test team reportedly didn't even test the studded tires on their test track, fearing damage. They also noted that the studded tires are noisy.

How do Non-Studded Tires Work?

Non-studded winter tires are made of soft, absorbent rubber. It absorbs water on the surface of the ice which makes the road slippery. It is for this reason that these tires provide better grip on the road, without noisy and destructive studs.

A Little Word of Warning:

If you are still considering opting for studded tires, check with your local Transportation Authority and/or law enforcement officer for tire restrictions. These laws may vary from region to region. You'll also need to visit a local tire dealer as soon as possible to make sure you find the model or size of tire you need.




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