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Studded Tires

Recently I had an episode with my 2000 Saturn SL1 in which I hit a patch of ice on the road. The result was that I ice skated to the side of the road in a semi-controlled skid. Several other cars behind me did similar pirouettes.

I’ve been thinking about getting studded tires for a while, but my question is how much of a difference do studded tires make in ice, and are there different types of studs? Would studs have possibly kept me from skidding off the road?

Studded tires are great if you drive on ice covered roads ALL THE TIME. Since very few people do this, the alternate solution, good ice/snow tires are your best bet. Studs are illegal in many areas now. They are great in Northern Sweden, the Alaska interior, Northern Canda and such places.

Taking a winter driving course through the AAA or similar organization will have a greater payoff.

got to and find a snow/ice tire for your vehicle.

I live in Pennsylvania where studs are legal for most of the winter. I guess my question is, will the studs make that much of a difference over just a plane M&S or Snow tire? Obviously no one knows for sure, but would I have maintained control on that patch of ice? I have no experience with studded tires, so don’t know how much they affect gripping on pure ice.

In theory, maybe my theory is wrong, but a piece of metal sticking into the ice should give more traction than just a rubber snow tire… or am I wrong?

Tire studs wear down very quickly when run on dry roads, and you WILL be running on dry roads most of the time. Once those studs wear down, you will be left with…

Just to correct what the preceding posters have stated, the correct term for what you need is WINTER tires, not snow tires. Winter tires are effective on ice as well as snow, due to special rubber compounding that gives them great traction when the temperature is below freezing.

Conventional rubber compounds harden when temperatures drop, whereas the tread compound of modern winter tires does not. The special rubber compound, coupled with the finely siped tread, provide good traction for stopping–even on ice–and they help to prevent skidding. However, they do not make you invincible. You still need to slow down and drive defensively on winter roads because you can still skid with these tires if you are not driving intelligently.

Incidentally, there is NO STANDARD for what constitutes a M & S (Mud and Snow) tire or a snow tire. But, the modern winter tires (with the symbol of a snowflake superimposed over the image of a mountain peak) do meet a tire industry standard for winter traction.

Remember that you need to mount 4 winter tires, and to remove them as soon as the threat of ice & snow is over, due to accelerated tread wear in warm temperatures. I strongly recommend the Michelin X-Ice tire for its excellent winter traction, low noise level, very good dry road handling characteristics, and much longer tread wear than the competition.

Yes, studded tires are better on ice and packed snow. You can make good use of them in PA. I was glad to have them on many trips in Eastern PA, from the Northern frontier to Philly. One time I arrived after 225 miles in 6 hours with about 4 inches of ice on my front bumper. They were handy in Pittsburg too. I can?t say that you would have maintained control on THAT patch of ice, but they can?t hurt. There is no substitute for developing good slippery-road driving skills. Big, empty parking lots are good for that if you can find a slippery one for some practice.

Studded tires are a slight liability on dry roads, decreasing traction. Who cares if you gain a lot when you need it most. Some people don?t like the noise but, to me, it sounds like security. Several states banned studded tires due to road damage. They have things other than driver safety on their menu, obviously.

Newer, lightweight studs have lessened pavement damage. The Canadian government did a study some years ago regarding pavement damage and the advantages in traction. I believe that Alaska has funded similar studies as well as Scandinavian countries. You should be able to find them with a web search. Winter tire ?studless? technology has improved over the last couple of decades and the advantage has narrowed, but studs still win out on ice and very hard snow.

This is obviously slightly off-opic and not answering your concrete question but what also can help you in the situation you described is having a car with traction/stability control. These systems obviously cannot defy the laws of physics but they do what they can to help maintain direction and - well - stability when skidding. You’re obviously not going to replace your car because of that - I just wanted to add this component to this very good discussion. I grew up in “winterland” and pretty much got anywhere with a good set of WINTER (not M&S / all-season) tires.

Thanks for the great advise. I did some research tonight and it looks like the blizzack ws60 are about the best tire out there. Can anyone afferm or deny this?

They work great, but on glare ice, not quite as good as studs. Studs ARE a pain in the butt on ice-free roads. They add little traction on soft or packed snow. The Blizzack’s soft rubber wears away quickly on dry roads and high speeds…These are not cheap tires…So an extra set of wheels are in order…If it’s THAT bad, why not just stay home?

believe me, I stay home when it’s bad. After hitting that ice I turned around and then stayed home the next day. I’ve read somethings saying studs don’t work so well on ice because the ice actually breaks away, causing the stud to loose its grip.

We use Michelin X-ICE winter tires. They have great traction on ice, packed snow and the tread design also makes them very good in loose snow. Even Consumer Report gives it a top rating. They also wear well. But take them off in the spring.

When I grew up in Pulaski NY before fwd vehicles you either had 4wd vehicle (very rare) or good studded snow tires. They were essential. However with fwd vehicles and the far superior ability in driving in snow…studded tires may not be needed.

I bought a full set of the Blizzak WS60s for my Camry last fall. I just installed them for the second season. I couldn’t be happier with them. They are rated at or better in many regards to the competition. The first day I installed them, I took them for a spin on the same slippery patch of road I had run my all season tires over maybe a half hour prior. Let’s just say I was amazed at the performance. They turned a white knuckle corner into something I could maneuver with confidence. I couldn’t even slide on the snow and ice covered driveway when I clamped on the brakes. They’re not invincible but what a difference!

Just so you know, winter tires have limited speed rating and they are definitely more squirrely in the corners due to the soft compound and deep tread. It’s worth the tradeoff IMO.

Studded tires work better on ice but they do tear up the roads.

I just picked up some Pirelli Winter Carving Edge 205/55R 16 for my BMW for $90.00 each. (at They can be studded and they use a carbide tip metal which wears at the same rate as the tire. I wouldn’t pay more than $15.00 per tire for studs. I also bought wheels so they will be mounted and ready to go.

When the snow is gone, the tires come off.

For the same reasons others have pointed out I recommend a set (all four) of winter tyres. They will help a lot in both snow and ice and do not have the problems of studs.

Well I have my Pirreli studded snow on and they really make a differance stopping on ice. Works great with the traction control on my car and it feels more like an all wheel drive car even though it’s rear wheel drive.

Should have done this sooner!