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Montana winter tires

Hey all, wondering if anyone from the mountain west has thoughts on studded/unstudded snow tires. Benefits and disadvantages. My first winter here in Montana, and while I don’t use my car a ton (mainly bike around the city), I do plan on getting out for some hikes and xx skiing. I won’t be doing anything insane, as my prius provides its own limitations, but curious about the studs since I’ve never used them before.


I would not bother with studs for winter driving. Modern snow tires have excellent traction and they don’t need studs unless you drive on dirt roads with frost under the snow all winter. The studs loose much of their effectiveness as the miles accumulate and they decrease traction on dry roads where you will do most of your traveling. They are an excellent aid on glare ice but it’s a condition so infrequently experienced in normal winter driving it isn’t worth the expense or sacrifices. Check out tire rack for tire tests and see how well regular stud less tires do under all conditions.

+1 to dagosa on studs, they are also problematic on wet roads, tend to slide and lose traction. Blizzaks and Michelin X Ice are two outstanding winter tires to consider. Both perform very well with out studs

@steveCBT I agree; our son and his wife are both winter sports fans and spend a lot of time in the Rocky Mountains. They have a Finnish brand of winter tires that have never failed them. No studs needed.

Our two cars both have Michelin X-ICE and we’ve never been stuck.

Though I have used studs for many years on my trucks, we put stud less tires on my wife’s car for actual, comfort, quite and real life safety driving on highways. The newer stud less tires and the best ones like the those mentioned especially, equal ice traction of many studded tires and may exceed some when the studs wear down a lot. That means with studs, nix long distance driving for practical reasons especially poorer handling. There is a storm coming up and we are driving to the kids place in and around the storm. I feel much safer on a highway with wife’s stud less snow tires as we will face multiple conditions, then the studded ones on the truck. If someone tries to talk a Prius owner into studded tires, they are trying to make a few extra bucks or they need to do a little more research. Now, if you have a V plow attached to front of the Prius and plan to make money plowing this winter, maybe studs would help. ;()

thanks everyone! Good to know, sounds like non-studs are great. I’ve never needed anything else in upstate ny (where we often drown in snow) but wasn’t sure if I was missing something out here in the rockies that made it different.

Years ago Minnesota allowed studs for a few years. You could see the ruts worn in the interstate roads from just that little use and they were banned. They do a lot of damage.

I used studs for years in Anchorage. Now I’d go with modern studless winter tires, like the Michelin mentioned above.

I don’t expect you need anything different in Montana than upstate NY, tire wise. When I lived in Colorado , this was 25 years ago, we used to get a thing called “black ice” once in a while, and for that condition studded tires were about the only thing besides 4WD that was effective. One day there was a patch of black ice that formed on the road going out of town, and as I approached that section I noticed there were dozens of cars off the side of the road in the ditch. I immediately knew what was happening so I just turned around and went back to town. But while turning around, 3 or 4 more cars went into the ditch. They’d just hit that section, loose all traction, and the wind would blow them off the road into the ditch. Nothing they could do about it.

Speaking of “black ice”…there are sections in Northern Maine, especially downhill, where the locals actually park their cars and watch the goings on. Some even brought video cameras and sold the footage to the local news networks. There is not a lot of things going on in Northern Maine in the winter. Most people watched their speed and never had a problem. The flat-landers though…tended to learn through experience.

When I was an over the road trucker I used to like some 4 wheeler traffic ahead of me on clear winter nights. If they hit black ice (we used to call it glare ice when I was young) I would get an early warning by seeing headlights-taillights-headlights-taillights etc. ahead of me.

Gotta agree with that. Never want to be the guy in the lead. Always have a point man. I’ve heard people using black ice a lot lately and not sure it correct. When we talk about black ice in Minnesota, it has been largely from very cold temps, and the exhaust from cars causing icing on the road that is impossible to detect. You’d never have a whole road with black ice on it, just patches.

“You’d never have a whole road with black ice on it, just patches.”

Unless the locals dumped water on the road to video the “fun.”

Around the Great lakes it is common to have freezing rain, which will make the road into a skating rink. Years ago my wife went to a concert 50 miles away and encountered this situation on the way home. She averaged about 25 mph on the freeway, and got home after 2 am. Today’s winter tires are great on this stuff.

Even though new tires are very good on ice, fresh new studs do excellent ice. They just have too many drawbacks. Every year I “screw” 80 threaded studs into the R4 treads of my tractor.

Anyone who has driven a tractor on ice knows how terrible they are, even with chains. A tractor tire hardens like a rock and nothing else works. But they get taken out in the spring and are not used 7 months out of the year. Plus, they stick out significantly more then a car tire studs. I also use hex head sheet metal screws in a pair of dedicated boots to walk on our icy roads. I screw hex heads sheet metal screws into the treads of the snow blower which is also a great traction aid . I also have studs on the truck as we don’t take it on ling trips. So studs do an excellent job.

But for cars in this day and age that spend much time on pavement, no thanks; they just aren’t worth the head ache.

If there is any doubt, I have to say that dagosa is the resident expert on studs, driving on ice, deep snow, and on treacherous roads. My hats off. I can see the freeway from my house and that’s as far as I want to get in the winter.