Do I Need Studded Snow Tires in MA?

Hi all,
I have a 2009 Camry and about a 100 mile commute daily round-trip for work. I’m wondering if I should get studded snow tires this winter, or just go with standard winter tires (I’ve never had either). Here in MA it can get pretty snowy some years, but then others it’s fairly dry. Also, the area’s not mountainous, but it’s not exactly flat either, there are some decent hills. Any input would be great, thanks!

You need to check with the state laws.

In Minnesota, studded tires are prohibited because they tear up the road surfaces. So we get by with regular winter tires.


When I lived in Colorado years ago – I was at about 6500 feet in a ski resort area so there was quite a bit of snow – I always used studded snow tires. They saved my gravy many times. But not sure if they are legal now. I think newer snow tires (without studs) are more effective than the studless now tires of yester-year were. Probably a good idea to ask fellow co-workers, neighbors what they do.

If you travel on 90, 290, 95 or 495 you should get studded snow tires. There will be icy conditions especially at cloverleafs. Been there before and you can use some help now and then. If you’re slipping it will seem more like HELP! NOW! Icing only takes a minute at the wrong time of day.

Icing only takes a minute at the wrong time of day.
Like this past Sunday morning throughout central Massachusetts. It began to drizzle around 7:30 AM, and the roads turned into a skating rink - leading to a 65 car crash in Worcester.

Buying snow tires or studded tires is like buying insurance. You’ll never know if or when you’ll need it, but if you do, it’s important to have.

I’m a big believer in having good winter tires. The need for studs is infrequent enough for me.

If you travel on 90, 290, 95 or 495 you should get studded snow tires

I’ve been driving those roads for 30+ years…and studded snow tires are NOT needed. MA doesn’t get much snow (about 30"/year). And they do get occasional sleet/ice…you’ll be better off with good all-season tires. While studded snow tires will help you stop better on ice…they are far worse on dry pavement then good all-season tires. And since 99% of the time you’ll be driving on dry pavement - studded tires only give you an advantage for that random 1%.

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I vote for good unstudded winter tires. Studded tires (if they’re even legal there) are better on ice but worse on dry and wet pavement, not to mention that they can be annoyingly noisy. I don’t think you’ll see enough ice to make that tradeoff worthwhile.

Unless you’re in the Berkshires, you could probably get by with good all-season tires in all but the worst conditions, but having winter tires is certainly safer if you don’t mind the hassle of putting them on.

If you travel on paved roads that are maintained but want snow tires for security in the northeast, regular unstudded snow tires will work excellent, if the are rated well on ice. I use fairly inexpense, Altimax which are pretty darn good in snow and ice and quiet. No studs unless you frequently travel dirt roads which freeze up in the winter. Btw, good winter tires can have good rain traction too. It’s all about how much $$$$ you have to spend.
Can you get by with a good all season tire ? Sure…but bet your butt, when you’re actually driving in snow and on ice, winter tires are ALWAYS dramatically better. Plus, you will be buying those all seasons more frequently, just to keep up with the " get by" traction. If I lived and traveled on roads in MA, I don’t know what I would do. But I travel there frequently, and when it snows, winter tires are awesomely better. You just have to decide if it’s worth their compromise the rest of the time.

Personally, if I did live in MA or NH where everyone is a rich liberal weenie or a well to do conservative business type with an expense account, I would equip one of my travel cars with normal all season the other with snow and drive according to the forecast.

That’s a long commute so I’d get winter tires, but I would not get them studded. Michelin X-Ice winter tires are doing a great job for me in an area where we get more snow than you normally do in the Boston area.

Thanks for the input, I’m gonna look into some good winter tires. Studs are legal in MA, but you guys are right, most years it’s probably not worth it.

@dagosa, believe it or not, most of us “liberal weenies” in MA are not rich…either struggling middle class or poor…and I’m one of the latter species. :wink:

That being the case, I can only afford one set of (all season) tires for my 15 year old Honda. They work fine for me in winter.

The Blizzack tires from Bridgestone are another great non studded winter tire. I suggest you get a spare set of rims to mount them on if you purchase them. It makes changing them out easier and will help pay for themselves if you change them yourself. Costco sells them for a good price.

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The Nokian WR G3 or WR G2 are basically all-seasons tires rated to be winter tires. They are a nice compromise and give incredible slush/rain performance and good snow performance.

Good luck.

I live in Mass and drive to Montreal quite frequently. I have done this with all seasonal, snow tires, and studded snow tires. IMHO there is a huge difference on ice compared to any other tire. Yes the perform slightly worse on dry roads and ARE noisy. But I am sure they have saved my skin a couple of times. When that road is as smooth as an ice rink they are the only tire that can stop you or hold a corner. They ARE worth their weight in gold. :grinning:

I can reinforce that, as I’ve done the same, with not even snow tires, just all-season tires, for over 40 years, never an accident because of snow/ice, the exception late one night near Concord MA on a back road I hit black ice, did a few 360’s and would up in the woods with no damage.

After 4 years the OP might be ready for new tires or found out the restriction’s on studded tires.

And as a mentioned. When driving on an ice rink aka black ice, studded snow tires are the only answer. Glad no one got hurt. But I have seen too many accidents on the 89 where cars were totaled. When it comes to my wife and kids. They will only be on studded tires during the winter.

Agree too. Studded tires are the best on glare ice. But it’s still an individual choice where winter tires are fraught with too many compromises in areas you’ll spend 99% of your winter time driving on bare roads. The new studless winter tires are much improved on ice. AT tires and higher snow rated all seasons make it tough to rationalize the disadvantages of snow tires for many unless you travel a lot on unpaved roads with imbedded winter frost.

I really think it depends on the kind of roads you “usually” encounter. Of course studs will be better on icy roads but they have been outlawed in Minnesota for decades. They allowed them for a couple years and the wear on the freeways was extreme. Same thing with winter tires. They are best for going through snow and on ice, but you really need to think about how often you encounter those conditions.

I use regular all season radials and got new tires in November before the winter. Really all winter in Minnesota I have hardly had any opportunity to drive on snow except for short trips in town where it really doesn’t matter much. We did have one 12" storm but we just sat tight until the ploys came through the next day. Now I did get caught in a storm on Friday the 13th no less where winter tires and AWD would have been nice. I had about a 35 mile trip and the first 7 to the freeway was about 5", unplowed, and a layer of slush underneath. It was a tough drive at 25 mph then once on the freeway, it was plowed but still a little slick. Yeah would have been nice but I just slowed down to compensate. Really next day here, the freeways are usually dry. Just depends on your driving needs though.

Well, I live near Buffalo NY and within 70 miles of it my whole life and studded tires are practically nonexistent around here. I think they are more useful in areas where it gets under 25 below and you get more ice than snow. Myself, I have only used snow tires one winter since the mid 1970s and I enjoy driving in he snow.