What Are Studded Tires?

Studded tires are a unique type of winter tire that have metal studs embedded in their rubber. These studs act like miniature anchors, penetrating frozen precipitation to offer an extra grip level on icy roads. They outperform both regular winter tires and tire chains when it comes to braking and accelerating on icy surfaces​​.

While studdable winter tires are sold without studs, you can equip them with studs later to enhance traction in specific winter conditions.

How Fast Can You Drive with Studded Tires?

When it comes to driving speed with studded tires, the advice varies. You should not exceed 45-50 mph with these tires, as manufacturers optimize them for icy surfaces rather than high-speed driving.

Some studded winter tires are rated for over 100 mph, but given their primary purpose for snow and ice, it’s advised to keep speeds below 40 mph for safety​​​​. It’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific vehicle.

How Do Studded Tires Work?

Studded tires function by using metal studs embedded within the tire tread to enhance traction on icy and snow-packed roads. These protrusions, often made of tungsten carbide or similar durable materials, dig into slippery surfaces, offering additional grip compared to standard winter tires​​.

Studded tires are most effective on packed snow (without plowing) and ice-covered roads, as the studs provide extra traction and control by piercing the ice and snow​​. The studs’ shape is also crucial, as it improves the tire’s ability to grip the terrain, thereby offering better traction

Studded vs Studless Winter Tires

Studless winter tires rely on advanced rubber compounds and unique tread designs to achieve traction on winter roads. They don’t have metal studs, but their tread and special rubber compounds remain flexible in cold temperatures, providing grip through snow and slush. Studless tires are often quieter and more comfortable for everyday driving in winter conditions. However, they are not as effective on ice compared to tires with studs.

Studded winter tires provide better ice/black ice grip compared to studless tires. As explained earlier, their metal studs dig into the ice, offering superior braking and accelerating capabilities.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Studs In Winter Tires

Advantages

  1. Enhanced Traction: The primary advantage of studs in winter tires is their ability to provide exceptional traction on icy surfaces.
  2. Improved Safety: Studded tires can improve safety on ice-covered roads, offering better control and reducing the chances of skidding.

Disadvantages

  1. Road Damage: One of the main drawbacks of studded tires is the damage they can cause to road surfaces. Their metal studs can wear down and even gouge asphalt, leading to costly road repairs.
  2. Noise and Comfort: Studded tires tend to be noisier than studless tires. The studs create a rumbling sound, which can be noticeable, especially at higher speeds.
  3. Limited Use Period: In many places, some laws prohibit the use of studded tires to minimize road damage.

Tire Studding Process: Step-By-Step

Tire studding is a detailed and precise process. Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to stud tires:

Necessary Tools and Materials Needed for Studding

Before you begin, ensure you have the following tools and materials:

  • Tire studs: Small metal studs designed for insertion into tire tread.
  • Tire stud tool: A specialized tool for inserting and removing studs e.g. a stud gun.
  • Marker or chalk: For marking stud placement.
  • Pliers: To adjust stud depth or remove existing studs.
  • Safety glasses and gloves: Essential for protection during the process​.

Tire Studding Process

  1. Position the tire over the mandrel of the studding stand for easier handling​​.
  2. Use a tire tread depth gauge to determine the correct stud size, based on the hole depth​​.
  3. Applying water to the hole can facilitate easier installation and extend equipment life​​.
  4. Align the stud gun with the hole and insert the stud, maintaining proper pressure and alignment​​.
  5. Ensure studs are nearly flush with the tire surface and straight for proper seating and to avoid premature failure​​.
  6. Once you insert all the studs, use pliers to adjust each stud’s depth. They should slightly protrude from the tire tread without affecting performance​​.
  7. After installing, inspect the tire to ensure all studs are securely in place. Reinsert any loose or improperly inserted studs. Repeat the process for the remaining tires

Tire experts recommend a break-in period of approximately 50-100 miles for studded tires. During this time, avoid hard cornering, acceleration, and braking to allow proper seating of the studs​.

How to Remove Studs from a Tire?

Removing studs from a tire is a straightforward process that requires a few simple tools and steps. Here’s how to do it safely and effectively:

  1. First, you need to unmount the tires from your vehicle. Trying to remove studs from the mounted tires makes the task more challenging.
  2. Before removing the studs, it’s advisable to lubricate them. This makes it easier to remove the studs and helps protect the tire material.
  3. After lubrication, grip the tip of each stud with pliers, twist, and then pull it out. This step might be time-consuming, but it is essential for thorough stud removal​​​​​​.
  4. Once you remove all the studs, inspect the tires for any punctures or damage. This is an important safety step to ensure the integrity of the tire is intact. You can dip the tires in a water tank or spray them with a window cleaner to check for air bubbles, which would indicate punctures. If there are no punctures, wash the tires and refill them with air to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure​​.
  5. Finally, remount the tires on your vehicle.

U.S. States Laws Regarding Studded Tire Use

  • Alabama: Drivers are allowed to use studded tires when necessary for safety on icy roads, provided the studs are appropriately sized.
  • Alaska: The state permits studded tires from September 16 to April 30 north of 60° Latitude, and from October 1 to April 14 south of 60° Latitude.
  • Arizona: Studded tire usage is permissible from October 1 to May 1.
  • Arkansas: The state allows the use of studded tires from November 15 to April 15.
  • California: Studded tires are authorized for use from November 1 to April 30.
  • Colorado: The state prohibits the use of studded tires statewide.
  • Connecticut: Studded tires are permissible from November 15 to April 30.
  • Delaware: Drivers can use studded tires from October 15 to April 15.
  • Florida: The state prohibits the use of studded tires.
  • Georgia: Studded tires are only allowed for enhanced safety on slippery surfaces.
  • Hawaii: You can not use studded tires in Hawaii, except on the Mauna Kea access road above Hale Pohaku and within the Mauna Kea Science Reserve.
  • Idaho: Studded tires are permitted from October 1 to April 30, with an exception for fire departments.
  • Illinois: The state bans studded tires except for rural mail carriers and disabled individuals in unincorporated areas, who may use them from November 15 to April 1.
  • Indiana: Usage of studded tires is allowed from October 1 to May 1.
  • Iowa: The state allows the use of studded tires from November 1 to April 1.
  • Kansas: The state allows studded tires from November 1 to April 1.
  • Kentucky: Studded tires are permitted without any specific time restrictions.
  • Louisiana: This state has banned the use of studded tires.
  • Maine: Drivers may use studded tires from October 2 to April 30.
  • Maryland: Studded tires are allowed from November 1 to March 31 in select counties: Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington.
  • Massachusetts: You can use studded tires from November 2 to April 30.
  • Michigan: Studded tires are not allowed.
  • Minnesota: The state bans studded tires, except for rural mail carriers under certain conditions from November 1 to April 15.
  • Mississippi: The use of studded tires is prohibited.
  • Missouri: In, Missouri, you can use studded from November 2 to March 31.
  • Montana: The use of studded tires is allowed from October 1 to May 31.
  • Nebraska: Studded tires are permissible from November 1 to April 1.
  • Nevada: The use of studded tires is allowed from October 1 to April 30.
  • New Hampshire: You can use studded tires all year round without any time restrictions.
  • New Jersey: The state allows studded tires from November 15 to April 1.
  • New Mexico: Studded tires are allowed only when necessary for safety on slippery roads.
  • New York: Studded tire usage is permissible from October 16 to April 30.
  • North Carolina: The state allows the use of studded tires without any specific time restrictions.
  • North Dakota: The state allows studded tires from October 15 to April 15, with an exception for school buses.
  • Ohio: The use of studded tires is permitted from November 1 to April 15.
  • Oklahoma: You can use studded tires from November 1 to April 1.
  • Oregon: Studded tires can be used from November 1 to March 31.
  • Pennsylvania: Studded tires are permissible from November 1 to April 15.
  • Rhode Island: The state allows studded tires from November 15 to April 1.
  • South Carolina: Studded tires are permitted without specific time restrictions.
  • South Dakota: This state permits studded tires from October 1 to April 30, with exceptions for school buses and municipal fire vehicles.
  • Tennessee: Studded tire usage is permissible from October 1 to April 15.
  • Texas: The state prohibits the use of studded tires.
  • Utah: Studded tires are allowed from October 15 to March 31.
  • Vermont: The state permits the use of studded tires without specific time restrictions.
  • Virginia: Studded tires are permitted from October 15 to April 15.
  • Washington: The state allows studded tires from November 1 to March 31.
  • West Virginia: Studded tires are permitted from November 1 to April 15, restricted to tires operating at or below 40psi.
  • Wisconsin: The state prohibits studded tires, except for emergency vehicles, school buses, and mail delivery vehicles.
  • Wyoming: Studded tire usage is permitted.

Source: Priority tire

Do Studded Tires Wear Out Quickly?

Studded tires do not inherently wear out faster than non-studded tires when used in appropriate conditions. They can last up to 4 to 5 seasons, or approximately 30,000 to 40,000 miles when primarily used on icy and heavy snow conditions.

However, their lifespan significantly reduces when used extensively on dry pavement or in hot weather. In this case, their lifespan can drop to about 2 to 3 seasons or around 15,000 to 25,000 miles.

Is It Fine to Drive Long Distances with Studded Tires?

Driving long distances with studded tires is acceptable, but certain considerations are essential. Generally, experts recommend driving at lower speeds with studded tires due to their design for gripping ice at moderate speeds. Always check the tire manufacturer’s recommendations for maximum safe speed.

Do Studded Tires Help on Black Ice?

Studded tires are particularly effective on black ice. They provide superior grip and handling on black ice compared to studless tires.

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