Useful Car Tips

The Science Behind Studded Snow Tires

October 09, 2018
Drive once in the snow and you’ll be quick to find out why so many people flood tire shops after the first snow storm hits. While not all winter weather conditions require chaining up, it can be a good idea to invest in studded snow tires for a safer ride.

Types of Winter Tires

Tires come in a lot of varieties, but all-season, winter/snow, and studded snow are the options you’ll be looking at as the first flakes fall. All-season tires are meant for year-round use. They grip well in the summer heat and cold of winter. Winter tires and studded snow tires are specifically designed to tackle the slush and ice drivers will be dealing with as temperatures drop. If you live in an area where the mercury drops below freezing in wet and dry conditions, choose winter tires. Studded snow tires are best for terrains in which ice forms on driving surfaces. Knowing what type of tire to invest in is all about understanding road conditions and weather patterns.

Why Are They Called “Studded”?

Back in the 1960s, tungsten carbide studs were shoved into the soft rubber of tires to enhance traction and improve grip. The thought process behind studded snow tires is that rubber itself provides a smooth surface, which is not ideal for gripping slippery ice and snow. However, when you put rigid metal into that rubber, the metal contacts the snow and doesn’t slide off like the rubber does. If you want to be scientific about it, Wheelzine says this, “Studs have the ability to use the automobile’s own weight and centrifugal forces to improve traction and grip.” One look at the rally racing tires used by Hyundai and it becomes clearer: tires with studs, like cleats, dig in and keep cars moving in a desired direction.

Studded Tires: Legal in Your State?

Before you break out the plastic to buy studded snow tires, consider your state’s laws. There are 11 states that have prohibited studded snow tires, and perhaps for good reason. Studded snow tires are brutal on roads. The metal studs dig in, not caring whether they grip snow or asphalt. In fact, you can hear the slapping and clacking of studded snow tires from outside and inside the car. With each revolution of your wheels, the road is being pounded with hundreds of tiny metal hammers. has a list of laws for each state in regard to studded snow tires, so check out regulations in your state before you start researching and purchasing. Many people choose to buy a new set of winter tires—whether studded or stud-less—to have on-hand when the weather changes. It’s important to remember that if you’re going to install studded snow tires on your vehicle, purchase 4 tires. If you’re going to add traction, do it across the board. Studded snow tires can make a world of difference for some drivers. But if you’re still unsure about which type of tire to invest in, consult your local tire shop. They will probably even recommend a certain brand for your specific vehicle.
Previous Article Next Article