Studded Snow Tires

We just bought a 2013 Subaru Impreza Hatchback with All Wheel Drive. Do I need 4 studded snow tires or can I get by with just 2 on the front? We live in Denver and the car is driven mostly on city streets - we never go into the mountains.

Tom Letourneau

Don’t use just 2, use all 4. It makes the all wheel drive work better with exactly equal tires on each wheel. Subaru drivelines are especially sensitive to equal tire diameter.

Do you really need studs? 4 winter tires should make your Subie close to a mountain goat in the snow. Winter tires will perform very well even on ice with all wheel drive. If ice is a serious concern for large amounts of your winter, use the studs.

Whether somebody’s car is FWD, RWD, or AWD, the conventional wisdom nowadays is to put the same tires on all 4 wheels. Yes, this differs from what was conventional wisdom years ago, but, you want all 4 of your tires to have the same coefficient of friction, otherwise your handling/road holding will be…unpredictable.

Even if Colorado permits studded tires, you should realize that the new technology (non-studded) winter tires are incredible in snow and on ice, and, because studs have a fairly limited life, they just won’t be effective for very long anyway.

I recommend a set of 4 Michelin X-Ice tires, as they have the unique combination of incredible traction on wintery roads and far better tread wear characteristics than their competitors.

Yep, you must have 4 matching tires. I’d try a good set of winter tires without studs, like the X-Ice recommended by @VDCdriver .

I agree with al the previous comments. Let me add this. To get the full benifits of Awd, you SHOULD use winter tires on ALL FOUR WHEELS. A competent tire store will not even mount two winter tires only which is unsafe and could damage your drive train ! Newer winter tires do quite well on ice, even without studs. If you live on a dirt road that is frozen all winter and there are lots of hills, studs are helpful. Anther wise, not necessary IMO. The problem you will have with Subarus may be finding cheaper steel wheels to pre mount the winter tires.

The Outback is very difficulty to do. Hopefully, the Impreza is different. It is much cheaper in the long run to deal with snows in this way rather then re mount them every year. Plus, you can run your summer tires or all seasons down to the wear bars and not worry about lost winter traction. This results in a net savings over the life of the car as opposed to just one set of tires. It’s no brainer.

Awd cars can be SAFER in snow with snow tires then without compared to 2 wd cars. You may need them more for awd then when driving a fwd car. This may seen silly to say, but snow tires are needed more for turning and stopping on Awd cars, and not so much for acceleration which Awd cars can do adaquatly without in most situations. A fwd without snow tires will have difficulty accelerating, often keeping your speeds slower. Get’m ! Think of it this way. You would not put poor performance tires for cornering on a Corvette and them try to drive it up to it’s capabilities.

The only place I might disagree with most is, that i feel nearly all winter tires are quite good in winter traction. You can find moderately priced winter tires that will work instead of the most expensive if you can accept some of their compromises, especially if you travel in the city mostly. For example; General Alumax 's are a very good, moderately priced snow tire that scores well enough on Tire Rack tests to be considered as much as more expensive ores that may only perform slightly better.

Denver is flat. I think that you can get by with all season radials unless there is a reason that you must drive when the snow is bad.

I agree that if you’re going to get winter tires…then you should get all 4.

But you say you’ll never go to the mountains…Denver averages about 60" snow a year…and when they do get snow it’s melted within days because of the amount of sun they also get.

You’ll be more then fine with all-season tires.

Whatever you do with your AWD Subaru do it to all 4 wheels. Doing otherwise can cause considerable and expensive damage to the AWD system.

I live in Seattle, not Denver, but I have a hard time imagining that you need more than AWD with decent tread on all-season tires.

four tires of whatever you choose. I can’t believe they still allow studded tires there. In Minnesota they were tried for a few years and you could see the wear ruts in the freeways after that. Do major damage to roads. You certainly don’t need them in town.

Yep, banned them outright in Minnesota.

I’ve been living and driving here in Colorado for 36 years (previous CT and MA). New studless snows (Blizaks, etc.) are excellent snow and ice tires. Winter driving in CO is like skiing whereas winter driving in New England is like ice skating. No need for studs here.

Tire rack has done numerous winter tire tests. Studded tires actually have greater stopping distances than studless snows in everything but glare ice. Get four good studless snows and you will have no problems.

Studded tires are not needed on an AWD vehicle…95% of the time, the roads are dry…Studded tires get troublesome real fast on dry roads…

My dad used to run steel studded snow tires in the winter on his '53 Ford station wagon when I was a young teenager. I used to borrow it at night and put on a “spark and light” show for the kids at the snow sledding hill near my house. I did this until a friendly cop advised me that throwing sparks up on the gas tank was a bad idea.

That would have been quite the pyrotechnics show for the kiddos! :slight_smile:

Studded tires are not needed on an AWD vehicle..95% of the time, the roads are dry..Studded tires get troublesome real fast on dry roads..

With studded snows you have to drive SLOWER when on dry pavement. They grip like cr*p. Where I grew up in NY…I always had studded snows. They are great for areas with lots of snow (200"+). But not so good for places like Southern NH or Denver.

The Amish and Mennonites “hard surface” a lot of their horseshoes around here,tears the heck out of cementious and bituminous concrete.Studs have been illegal for some time around here as always the best traction aiding devices are tire chains,although very inconvenient-Kevin

IMO, some tire retailers push studding much more then they need to. Both Consumer Reports and Tire Rack have done enough tests to show the increased effectiveness of modern winter tires on ice without studs. Studs in general were more necessary in days when winter tires were nothing more then mud tires with the same rubber composition as summer tires but drilled for studs.

There are exceptions when studding is necessary…but it is the exception not the rule and flatlanders, city dwellers and those who spend most of their winters months driving on paved roads have little if any need for them if they have a modern winter tire. These people might as well not pay the extra for studs and put that extra money into nitrogen. A least then, it doesn’t have a negative effect on dry road handling.

We stud our vehicle tires, plow trucks, the tractor, the snow blower, our shoes and even a hand speaded for sand and anything else that needs to move on days when dogs can’t navigate without falling down or slide into the ditch when chasing us when we go for walks. This is about 90% of the time during the winter where we live. But , most sane people live in normal environments and have absolutely no need for them. They don’t live on perpetually frozen roads where light snow cover clogs the sipes and renders the modern winter tire, a poor ice gripper. I see way too many cars with winter tires all studded up that have no practical need for them as they do nothing for you in snow…they are way over sold and promoted !

I agree with the previous posters; forget the studs and get 4 good winter tires, such as Michelin X-ICE.

I live in a similar climate as Denver, but with much longer winters. We glad to be rid of the need for studs with the winter tires of today.

The province of Quebec in Canada, which has heavy snowfall winters, had outlawed studs but now legally requires winter tires on all wheels during the winter months.