Studded tires have been one of the most dynamic tire related technologies to appear in the past century. For years, there was no comparable alternative to tire studs, and even now it’s hard to beat the traction and reliability of a good studded tire on ice and hard packed snow. Despite their advantages, these tires aren’t bullet proof, and there are certain things you should be aware of before hitting the road. Below you’ll find some useful tips to help you get the most out of these tires.
When you first begin using studded tires, it’s important to know the laws that relate to tire studs in your area. Each state and province has their own set of laws regulating the use of these tires, and in some states tire studs are only permitted during certain times of the year. This makes it all the more important to be aware of laws concerning tires with studs if you are planning a road trip across state or provincial lines. Take a look at our comprehensive list of North American studded tire laws and regulations, or check with the applicable transportation departments for the most up-to-date information.
For vehicle safety and control, it’s always important that tires are inflated to the correct air pressure suggested by the manufacturer. This is especially the case using tires with studs since a lack of pressure in the air cavity can deform the tire and cause the studs to lose their stiffness which results in impaired traction performance. For this reason, it’s a good idea to perform frequent tire pressure checks during the winter season.
Depending on the drive train of their vehicle, many car owners use studded tires only on the front or rear set of wheels. Although this is cost effective, it can cause various unforeseen safety hazards. This occurs because running studded tires on only one axel causes the different sets of wheels to experience drastically different levels of traction which may cause automated or driver-assisted handling and braking systems such as traction control and ABS to malfunction. For example, if studded tires are used only on the front axel of a front-wheel-drive vehicle, the rear tires can easily lose traction in corners causing dangerous fishtailing.
Although tire studs provide superior traction on ice and hard packed snow, many people are surprised to learn that studded tires are actually less effective than regular tires when driven on dry pavement. This is because each protruding stud creates a small area in which the tread does not touch the road. With less rubber touching the ground there is less friction between the tire and the road and, consequently, less traction for the vehicle. As a result, it’s best to use studded tires only when you’re likely to encounter snow or ice covered roads.
The principals that apply to winter driving on regular tires are applicable to driving with studded tires as well. Remember to drive slowly when you encounter snow or ice and begin slow, steady application of the brake pedal at least 50 yards before you intend to stop. Avoid hard acceleration or tight cornering, both of which can cause you to slide and lose control of the vehicle. When ascending steep grades, try turning the wheel gently from side to side to allow the tires to catch and gain traction. Due to the limitations of winter driving that exist even when studded tires are used, the best advice is simply to perform all driving functions including cornering, accelerating and braking a little bit slower during the winter than you would at other times.
Whether you’re commuting, road tripping or just enjoying a winter drive, with these helpful tips there’s nothing that stands between you and a safe, reliable, hassle-free adventure on studded tires!