When Jack Frost gets around to the United States, many car drivers that want to have good grip on the road have a dilemma: snow tires vs. studded tires. Which one is better? We have tested many different tires with and without studs to find the answer, and the results are unambiguous. However, the final choice totally depends on the conditions of use.
The results of winter tests
We tried winter tires and studded tires on different surfaces such as:
- ice covered roads
- slushy roads
- roads covered with snow
- clear roads at low temperature
Studded tires have won confidently in one nomination, while winter tires showed good performance on most of the tests. Let’s start with the winner!
Snow tires – quiet ride and good performance
The peculiarity of snow tires in comparison to all season tires is a soft compound and deeper grooves with biting tread edges. Special tread design does not let snow stick to the tire retaining good grip and traction. Comparing to studded tires, winter tires have the following advantages:
- they maintain good grip on all surfaces, except ice
- they are very quiet compared to studded tires
- they have deeper treads that do not collect snow and prevent aquaplaning
- they do not damage roads and are permitted in every state
On slushy roads that have both snow and water winter tires are also more preferable.
Studded tires – good grip on ice
In the winter tires vs. studded tires contest, studded tires have one big advantage. Studs that bite into ice like claws ensure the best grip on ice. During the tests on ice, studded tires had less braking distance and better acceleration. When cars with snow tires were sliding on ice, those with studded tires could be handled quite well. Drawbacks are the following:
- studded tires tend to damage roads
- hence of the above they are forbidden in many states, or legal only during winter months
- they are noisy
- on snowy and slushy roads they offer poorer performance
The conclusion of our snow tires vs. studded tires review is that we can only recommend studded tires when you live near the coast where roads are often covered with ice. In that case you will secure yourself from sudden troubles like getting into the ditch. In other cases pros of studs are outweighed by their cons, so then winter tires are preferable.