Studded Winter Tires

Studded Winter Tires

Dec 2nd 2019

In one of our previous blog posts we have talked about the three distinctive winter tires: studless, studdable and studded. Today, we will take a look at studded tires in more detail.

Studded tires used to be the norm when it came to winter weather driving. The studs located in the tread area improve the ice and snow grip and ensure the tire’s forward motion in such conditions. However, they dampen the tire’s traction in dry conditions and have the tendency to accelerate road damage.

These tires have mostly been switched out with modern studless tires that are made with flexible compound materials and feature a detailed tread pattern. So, why are studded tires still used?

Studs used to make up for the lack of traction tire compounds provided, as they did not maintain their flexibility in colder temperatures. With modern technology, this issue has been fixed, but studded tires are still on the market because they’re still useful in certain situations. For example, if you’re driving off road or in extremely severe winter weather, studded tires would be a good option.

What are Studs?

Metal or hard rubber studs are added to winter tires to increase their performing traction when driving on ice and snow. They have a cylindrical end that hooks into place and a small pin on their active end that extends from the tread. The pins of these studs are typically 1/32 of an inch above the tread area, which enables its additional biting edges.

Studs also come in different sizes. The size of the stud added to the tires depends on the tire size and application. In other words, passenger tires cannot have light truck sized studs added to them and vice versa. The size of the studs is visually represented on the tire’s sidewalls.

Different studs have varying studs pin shapes as well that enable their grip on the road surface.

Studs are installed to studdable tires using a stud gun. Light truck studs come in a screw-like end as well, which can be screwed into place. In order to function properly, they need to be installed correctly. The stud pin can extend from the tread from 1-2/32 of an inch. More will cause the stud to fall out during the drive, less will prevent the stud’s contact with the road surface. Furthermore, the studs need to be added to the tread in a vertical manner at a 90 degree angle. Different angles will also cause the studs to fall out and they can easily damage the tread area.

Only studdable tires can be studded! Studdable tires are pinned for studs and the studs need to be added into the small holes located along the tread area. Adding studs to a studless tire will damage its internal construction and integrity, which will cause the tire to fail during its performance.

Are Studs Good for Winter Driving?

Metal and hard rubber studs increase the grip the tire has on ice- and snow-covered road surface conditions. They dig into the ice and snow layer covering the road surface during the tire’s performance, which increases its traction and ensures its forward traction. The added traction of studs makes these tires capable of handling severe winter weather.

There is, however, one issue. Snow and ice don’t always cover the road in winter conditions. In dry and wet weather situations studs do the opposite, they hinder the tire’s traction.

As studs extend above the tread area, they lower the tire’s surface contact. In dry and wet conditions the tire compound has to provide the needed traction. However, if the tire does not have a close and maintained surface contact, the compound cannot perform in the desired way. In such cases, studs not only dampen the tire’s traction, but they also potentially damage the road surface

When there is no ice or snow to grip, studs dig into the road surface. Studded tires are capable of wearing down a road much faster than studless tires do. As the studs grip onto the road surface, they chip away at the pavement one-by-one. With time and constant stud use, the road damage becomes more severe, which can be hazardous.

As a result, state laws govern the usage and type of stud applications.

State Laws Regulating Stud Application

Most states fall into these categories:

  • Metal studs permitted
  • Metal studs permitted with restrictions
  • Rubber studs permitted
  • Not permitted

The restrictions govern the type of road surface, weather conditions, date in the year and vehicle when and where the studs can be used.

For a simplified preview, please read the below list:

ALRubber studs only
AKPermitted September 15 – April 30 north of 60 degrees N

October 1 – April 15 south of 60 degrees N

AZPermitted October 1 – May 1
ARPermitted November 15 – April 15
CAPermitted November 1 – April 30
CTPermitted November 15 – April 30
DEPermitted October 15 – April 15
DCPermitted only in snow and ice conditions
FLRubber studs only
GAPermitted only in snow and ice conditions
HINot permitted
IDPermitted October 1 – April 30
ILNot permitted
INPermitted October 1 – May 1
IAPermitted November 1 – April 1
KSPermitted November 1 – April 1
LARubber studs only
MEPermitted October 2 – April 30
MDPermitted only in western counties: Allegheny, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett and Washington, November 1 – March 31
MAPermitted November 2 – April 30
MINot permitted
MNNot permitted
MSNot permitted
MOPermitted November 2 – March 31
MTPermitted October 1 – May 31
NEPermitted November 1 – April 1
NVPermitted October 1 – April 30
NJPermitted November 15 – April 1
NYPermitted October 15 – May 1
NCPermitted if not projected more than 1/16 inch when compressed
NDPermitted October 15 – April 15
OHPermitted November 1 – April 15
OKPermitted November 1 – April 1
ORPermitted November 1 – March 31
PAPermitted November 1 – April 15
RIRubber studs permitted November 15 – April 1 (only if not projected more than 1/16 inch)
SCPermitted if not projected more than 1/16 inch when compressed
SDPermitted October 1 – April 30
TNPermitted October 1 – April 15
TXRubber studs only
UTPermitted October 15 – March 31
VAPermitted October 15 – April 15
WAPermitted November 1 – March 31
WVPermitted November 1 – April 15
WINot permitted


For a more detailed list, please check out this link