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Winter Tire Types: Studless, Studdable & Studded

Winter Tire Types: Studless, Studdable & Studded

Dec 21st 2020

There are two main types of winter tires, studded and studless. Studded tires were the must-have snow tires for a long time, but advances in rubber compounds and other winter tire technologies have changed the minds of many drivers. Also, we have the studdable tire is the third winter tire option.

Studded Tires

Studded snow tires derive their name from metal studs they have embedded within their tread. Studs are very strong, lightweight pieces of metal that are designed to dig into the ice, which provides added traction. When the driving surface isn't covered in ice, studded tires can damage the road. They're tough enough to dig into pavement, which is why many states limit their use during non-winter months and some states have outlawed them completely. Studded winter tires are also known to produce a noisy ride. Although studded tires are capable of handling icy driving situations, improvements in the rubber compounds of modern studless winter tires have made them more capable of handling some of winter's most extreme driving situations.

Advantages of Studded Tires

One of the biggest advantages is that they allow you to drive in harsh winter conditions. Studs are an alternative to using chains or cables on your winter tires. Dealing with winter driving conditions is more comfortable and they improve stability as well. There is no danger of the studs breaking or coming loose like chains or cables do. Studs are made from tungsten carbide, one of the most robust materials available in the market. Another advantage is that they offer the best handling and traction when driving up an inclined road. There is no safer or better option than utilizing a studded tire when driving up such roads. The possibility of damage to the vehicle is not an issue, unlike cables and chains which are known to cause exterior damage. Studded tires provide the best traction you can get. They help break through packed snow and ice-covered roads to give you better traction. It’s important to know that extra tread depth is needed to accommodate studs, so studded tire size options are limited. Also, the times of year when studded tires are allowed on the road vary by state.

Disadvantages of Studded Tires

Recently the studded tire has run into some opposition which claims that studded tires are only good for digging into clear ice, and they won’t do much when dealing with packed, loose and deep snow. On these types of surfaces the studs cannot actually hold a solid grip as there is no resistance. Another flaw of the studded tire is that they are banned in certain countries. The tungsten carbide is so hard that it can cause damage to the roads. This has prompted some nations to make the use of studded tires illegal. Furthermore, the use of studs on your tires can produce excess noise, severely impacting the comfort of your driving experience. Since they can only be used in snowy or icy conditions, you will be required to keep two sets of tires. One set for icy and snowy roads and one for other road conditions. Also, this type of tire will make a dent in your wallet, as they can be quite expensive.

Studless Tires

Studless snow tires work well on slush and packed snow. They get traction through wide, deep grooves and lots of irregular surfaces with sharp edges. This allows the rubber to cut through snow and grip the road. These tires were developed to meet challenging winter driving conditions around the world by delivering studded-like snow and ice traction without employing noisy, road-damaging studs. 

These tires feature pliable tread compounds molded into purposeful tread designs that trade some handling in dry and wet conditions to deliver excellent snow and ice traction. As of recently, studless snow tires have become the preferred snow tire for many winter drivers. Instead of relying on metal protrusions in the tread, modern non-studded winter tires utilize advances in rubber compounding, tread designs, and other unique technologies. In the cold winter temperatures, a non-winter tire's tread rubber becomes stiffer and less able to handle irregularities, even on a dry road.

Modern studless snow tires are capable of maintaining flexibility in freezing temperatures, thanks to advances in rubber compounding technologies. This increases rubber flexibility and allows tires to maintain traction on snowy, icy, wet and dry driving surfaces. Studless winter tires generally have deeper tread than summer or all season tires. Deep tread depths allow the tire to manage snow and slush dispersion from under the tire. It also allows the tire to provide better or snow-on-snow traction by packing it within the tread blocks. Another noticeable feature is the thousands of tiny slits in the tread pattern, called sipes. These act as biting edges on ice that help with acceleration, deceleration, and stopping. Studded tyres are especially suitable if you live near the coast, where roads tend to be icy during the winter.

Disadvantages of Studless Tires

If you are using non-studded winter tires, you need to be particularly careful at crossroads where there may be wet ice or hard-packed snow. Studded tires are superior to non-studded winter tires on wet ice and hard-packed snow. Coarse spring roads can be particularly wearing on all tires and non-studded winter tires are primarily designed and intended for winter use. Non-studded winter tires that have been unevenly worn by coarse spring roads are no match for good summer tires. Therefore, the use of non-studded winter tires as all-season tires is not recommended.

Studdable Winter Tires

These tires feature traditional winter tire compounds and tread designs that provide good traction in snow. They are also molded to accept optional metal studs that are especially helpful when driving in climates where freezing rain, sleet and wet ice occurs as ambient temperatures hover around 32° Fahrenheit. Because studded tires damage road surfaces, many states restrict them to wintertime use or prohibit them entirely. Check with local authorities to confirm legality.

If you’re having a hard time choosing between studless and studded winter tires, it all comes down to your personal preference and particular set of circumstances. Even though experts claim that advances in winter tire technology has rendered the studded tire obsolete.

Priority Tire offers all three types of winter tires, with vide wariety of brands and models to choose from. Make sure to check out our winter tires section and find just the right tire for you.