Studded winter tires are specially designed for a better grip in winter on such surfaces as ice and deep snow. Studded tire usually has from 80 to 150 studs. Comparing to unstudded winter tire, they have harder compound (still much softer than summer and all season) in order to hold studs in place. Studs are made of very hard metal, they rise 1-1.5 mm above tire surface.
History of studded tires
Some sources say that studded tires have existed since 1890. First mass scale studded tires production was established by Michelin in 1933. From that time studded winter tires became popular in Scandinavian countries, Russia and Canada as weather conditions there are severe and unstudded tires cannot guarantee good grip on ice-covered roads. Studded tires were also popular in the U.S. in 1960s-70s but the research proved that their pavement had problems, they were partially banned in some states (Maryland, Minnesota, Illinois). In most states they are only allowed during winter months.
Studded tires service
Brand new studded winter tires should take run-in for about 100-300 miles. During this period the speed shall not exceed 40-50 mph and no skidding should be done. Sudden acceleration and braking is not recommended during all service life of tires. Studded tires have one serious drawback – they are noisy comparing to unstudded tires.
As it was mentioned above, they damage road surface, but on asphalt surface studs are also being damaged themselves. That’s why they are recommended for snow and ice covered roads. The life of a studded tire is usually about 3-4 years depending on conditions of use.
Average prices for studded tires
Prices for studded tires start from approximately 350$ and depending on the brand, quality and size may rise to 700$ for four tires. Brands like Firestone and Vredestein have tires for 80$ while Michelin may cost 100-120$ and the most expensive high performance Nokian tires may cost 150-200$ for R16 tire.
When you should consider studded tires
The best appropriate conditions of use for studded winter tires are:
- Northern states where roads are covered with ice most of the time in winter;
- coastal zones where humidity is high that results in icy condition of roads;
- deep snow where cars with unstudded winter tires go into a skid.
On wet and glare ice studded tires are substantially better than unstudded winter tires, ensuring better grip, acceleration and braking. But on normal roads in winter months unstudded tires are preferable as they are softer and their tread design is more suitable for dry and wet asphalt. Unstudded tires are better on slush.
As a matter of fact, there is no clear answer if studded winter tires are better or worse than unstudded ones. Experts say that if studded tires are completely forbidden, there will be no cars that “break the ice” in country regions and the roads will be always icy. That’s why studded tires will remain to be an appropriate choice for severe winter for years to come.