tell me about studded snow tires

Joined
May 23, 2004
Messages
2,573
Location
Northeast
I'm thinking about giving them a try. Good/Bad experiences? I hear on the highway they arent very good, is this true?
 
Joined
Nov 6, 2002
Messages
4,844
Location
Saskatchewan
I am a proponent of studded tires and have convinced family and friends to use them. There are good reasons that 80% of those safety-conscious Swedes have them on their cars in the winter! Traction, noise, and wear are often the main issues related to studded tires. Here are my thoughts on those: Studded tires will reduce traction a little on dry and wet pavement, but increase it on ice and hard snow. Obviously, rubber has a greater coefficient of friction on concrete or asphalt than steel, but the studs give you traction that is very forgiving. It's not much worse on dry or wet pavement, and it's far better in extremely slippery situations. On wet ice, where it's hopeless to rely on friction alone, steel spikes will always dig! The studs can wear out quickly due to high speed driving, hard cornering, and excessive wheel spin. If driven more gently, the studs can last many winters. I can expect anywhere from 2 to 8 seasons out of a set of studded tires, depending on how I drive. Some people think they're noisy, but usually it's because they think the noise from the aggressive tread is caused by the studs. I only notice the sound of the studs with the windows down. They tick, like rocks in your tread, but more consistently. The sound kind of grows on you; I like the sound, as do my friends with studded tires, and even my girlfriend does now. She absolutely hated driving in the winter before she got studded tires. Now she thoroughly enjoys being the one on the road with the most traction on icy days! I've had good experiences with Cooper Weathermasters, Cooper Discovery M+S, BFG Winter Slaloms, and Hankook W404s. Walmart sells a studdable tire (Snowmark?) that has good traction, but is excessively noisy on the highway (in a 2003 Celica, anyway). Here's a good article on studded tires: http://www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/files/cars/tires/tirestud.html http://www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/files/cars/tires/tiretests.html
 
Joined
Jul 4, 2002
Messages
1,856
Location
PA
Studded tires = awesome on ice. If all you drive in is snow pack though, you dont need studs. I drive on non studded Dunlop Winter Sport M3s that decleat snow well in a RWD positraction 2002 Camaro with a 5speed and I get through everything fine in PA where it's mostly snowpack.
 
Joined
May 19, 2004
Messages
571
Location
Central NY
I have forsaken all other snow tires and use studded tires exclusively now. I have a set of Nokian Hakkapellita 1's (Nordmans) on the Subaru, and a set of Akuret Grip Plus (cheapy) on the Jeep. I run two sets of wheels on each vehicle. The Nokian's are insane, I don't think a better winter tire exists. They are very heavily siped and studded with a directional tread pattern. They are very loud, but to me this adds to the charm. These tires saved us from totalling the Subaru when an idiot pulled out in front of us when we were traveling about 45 mph on a snow covered road. Incredible control, not mushy feeling like the blizzaks I used to run. They were pricy though, just shy of $500 for 4 205/70R15 IIRC. The other tires are cheap cooper off brand tires I think. They aren't very heavily studded, fairly mushy handling. Pretty good snow traction though, and they are quieter than my BFG TA/KO summer tires. I paid around $385 for 4 225/75R15. Whatever you decide, I recommend running 4 identical tires, as symmetry of traction significantly affects handling. I run the tire pressure a little low, around 29 PSI. I usually get about three winters out of a set.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Messages
4,378
Location
Camas, WA
I've typically used studded tires in the winter around here, even though we don't get much snow, as they do best on ice. I tried some Michelin Alpins as as studless alternative and they don't do well on 'soft ice', close to freezing. Perhaps it's because we have hills/mountains around here, as flatlanders from the upper midwest say that 'we don't need no stinking studs' :^) Watching the steep road in front of our house I've seen 4wd Jeeps with severe snow rated BFG ATs do well in storms with fresh snow, packed snow, 'hard ice' (cold weather), but stall and start sliding backwards on soft ice. Regardless of what others say based upon hockey rink tests, if you look at results of studies in Japan, Alaska, Washington, Scandanavia, etc., they all agree that studs work best in some conditions. Being able to drive anywhere, anytime in the winter is a game of minimizing tire weaknesses instead of maximizing strengths, which may require chains in the worst conditions. If you look at ice racing the studless category typically just requires a helmet, while even production studded tires requires racing harnesses and such due to the greater traction available. A reasonable solution for many might be decent studless tires with chains for extreme conditions. Chains make sense around here as sometimes it's chains only at the passes.
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2004
Messages
7,256
Location
USA
quote:
Originally posted by sxg6: I'm thinking about giving them a try. Good/Bad experiences? I hear on the highway they arent very good, is this true?
How often do you encounter ice? If only a week or so a year skip them. Most of my winter in Seacoast NH is on dry/wet roads were studded tires are abysmal and seem like compromise of safety/traction.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Messages
4,378
Location
Camas, WA
"How often do you encounter ice? If only a week or so a year skip them." Just have a backup plan for dealing with ice, or an extra week of extra vacation so that you don't need to drive to work, food for a week, possibly being able to afford staying in a hotel for a week if an ice storm catches you on the road. Remember that Mother Nature doesn't give you extra credit for having the right tires most of the time, and 20 feet of ice can wreck your day.
 

sxg6

Thread starter
Joined
May 23, 2004
Messages
2,573
Location
Northeast
I'm not sure how icy it gets up here. I'm use to being inland, i lived in central ct and western mass, but now i live in south portland and am a lot closer to the ocean.. I had blizzaks last season which were wonderful, so maybe i'll just go with studless again? [I dont know]
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2004
Messages
7,256
Location
USA
Studded are likely overkill for Southern Coastal Maine. You will see more rain than snow as the ocean keeps the air warmer in general. Blizzacks are great tires. I get by fine with all-seasons just one hour south of you in Exeter/Portsmouth area. Western MA is quite snowy by comparison. If you have a car a one size fits all tire that is incredible in Winter muck (just weaker on ice) is the Nokian WR. The only all-season tire (50k) that is snow tire rated. If too $$$ in your area try Davies Tire in Portsmouth, NH to avoid tax etc.
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2004
Messages
7,256
Location
USA
quote:
Originally posted by 1sttruck: "How often do you encounter ice? If only a week or so a year skip them." Just have a backup plan for dealing with ice, or an extra week of extra vacation so that you don't need to drive to work, food for a week, possibly being able to afford staying in a hotel for a week if an ice storm catches you on the road. Remember that Mother Nature doesn't give you extra credit for having the right tires most of the time, and 20 feet of ice can wreck your day.
In the Northeast they use copious amounts of salt/sand on the roads and having armada's of plows so icing is not really an issue except during the height of a storm. Usually it is not a smart idea to be driving in the height of these conditions no matter what tire you own. Since the next driver 95% likely does not have decent tires and will slide into you especially with your superior stopping distances. Ask my wife who was rear ended three times during a very icy storm. Her Nokian snows did not do an ounce of good sitting at stops being rear ended not once, not twice, but three times in a single storm over a 45 min drive. The backend of her Civic was not pretty after.
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
1,027
Location
East Helena, Montana
I've used studded snow tires almost exclusively since the late-50's, except for a few winters (during each of which I ended up wishing that I had studded tires). Ask around to find out how often it snows and how much you get. I'd get studs even if its minimal snow that you'll be getting. It won't hurt to have them when you don't need them, but if you don't have them when you DO need them you'll be sorry. The Hankook DynaPro iPike RW07, Winter iPike W409, and Zovac HP W401 are all excellent studded tires. So are the Cooper Weather-Master S/T 2 and Discoverer M+S. I'd run any of them and have run some of them. Its a myth that studs cause a bit less traction on bare pavement. People who think this apparently think that on bare pavement only the studs touch the pavement. Not true. The whole of the rubber contact patch touches the pavement. Just look at any tire on a vehicle. There's a flat spot of a number of inches where the tire touchs the pavement. Yes, the studs stick out past the face of the tire when you look at the part of the tire that doesn't touch the pavement, but the weight of the vehicle pushs down on the tire so much that it pushs the rubber right down onto the ground. Studs greatly improve traction on ice. They also greatly improve traction on packed snow. It is simply not true that on packed snow they don't increase traction. Make sure that your tires have holes for 4 rows of studs. A few tires are only drilled for 2 rows of studs. Also, don't get a snow tire unless each of the largest traction lugs has at least 3 sipes in it. The more sipes the better, as the small slits increase traction.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Messages
4,378
Location
Camas, WA
"Also, don't get a snow tire unless each of the largest traction lugs has at least 3 sipes in it. The more sipes the better, as the small slits increase traction." I'll second that. With deeper fresh snow the pickups with the big mud tires (big lugs with typically no siping) do fine, but the drivers tend to have puzzled looks on their faces as they're doing 360s on the packed snow and ice.
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
1,027
Location
East Helena, Montana
Also, don't listen to the people that will praise the traction of All-Terrain tires on snow. A snow (also called winter) tire is made of a softer compound than AT, MT, all-season, and summer tires. The softer compound lets the snow tire grip better on ice and hard packed snow. The harder compound that the AT tires are made of doesn't let the tire grip as good on ice and hardpacked snow, so they aren't as good as a snow tire.
 
Joined
May 19, 2004
Messages
571
Location
Central NY
quote:
Originally posted by jmacmaster: Also, don't listen to the people that will praise the traction of All-Terrain tires on snow. A snow (also called winter) tire is made of a softer compound than AT, MT, all-season, and summer tires. The softer compound lets the snow tire grip better on ice and hard packed snow. The harder compound that the AT tires are made of doesn't let the tire grip as good on ice and hardpacked snow, so they aren't as good as a snow tire.
I've heard many folks around here sing the praises of BFG TA/KO's in the snow, which makes me wonder what on earth they are comparing them to. I had them in the snow ONCE! Holy cow they were terrible (compared to the cheap studs mentioned previously). Awesome on dirt and gravel though.
 
Joined
Nov 6, 2002
Messages
4,844
Location
Saskatchewan
quote:
Originally posted by jmacmaster: Its a myth that studs cause a bit less traction on bare pavement.
I don't think it's a myth, but I don't think it's a big concern either. I try to avoid hard launches with my studs but it has happened, and my car hooks up fine on dry pavement with them. In winter conditions, I'd rather have 95% of non-studded dry traction and some traction on ice than 100% dry traction and nothing when I hit the ice.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Messages
4,378
Location
Camas, WA
"I've heard many folks around here sing the praises of BFG TA/KO's in the snow..." They are severe snow rated, which is rare for a 'regular tire'. The Goodyear Silent Armor Wrangler ATs are also severe snow rated. A severe snow rating doesn't mean that it's good on ice though, so it'd be nice to see a severe ice rating :^)
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
1,027
Location
East Helena, Montana
"I've heard many folks around here sing the praises of BFG TA/KO's in the snow... They are severe snow rated, which is rare for a 'regular tire'. The Goodyear Silent Armor Wrangler ATs are also severe snow rated." The BFG TA tire is an excellent tire, except on hardpacked snow and ice. Unfortunately, its also one of the tires that is purchased by a lot of people who are into fads and the "look at me, see what tires I have" look. Its a status symbol with a lot of people. The severe snow rating is placed on a tire by the tire's manufacturer, based on industry specs that do NOT, unfortunately, include whether the tire is or is not made of a soft compound, such as a true snow (winter)tire is made of, and that do not take into account how the tire actually performs in the various winter conditions. The all-terrain tires are not made of a soft compound and thus start out with a strike against them in terms of their traction on hardpacked snow and on ice. I have run numerous models and brands of AT tires, and numerous models and brands of snow tires, during the winter, and the AT's simply do not compare to the snow tires on snow and ice. People who brag about the BFG AT's performance on hardpacked snow and ice almost certainly never used a good snow tire, and if they haven't, they don't have any basis of comparison.
 
Joined
May 24, 2004
Messages
1,407
Location
Vail, Colorado
Studded or Studless snow tires can both work well. Siping is important in either design. I live in regiions with lots of snow and ice and I always try to get the best winter tires. I like the Nokian, Gislaved, Blizzak, Winterforce snow tires, and I can't pick just one tire because I have to fit so many different vehicles and there is no one tire model that will work on all vehicles. The bad news is that I have yet to find a tire that is really a top performer after one or two seasons. It is much safer to wear out the winter tires at the end of the season or second season...depending on wear...and start the next winter with fresh winter tires. I've got my wife and daughters out there driving and we already had treacherous conditions that shut down I-70 in Colorado. The expense of winter tires is nothing compared to their safety. I use the top rated snow and ice performing all season tires for the summer, because we can get snow and ice anytime.
 
Joined
Apr 6, 2004
Messages
702
Location
Midland, MI
I looked up the BFG TA/KOs on their website and only see them listed as M&S not severe weather rated with the snowflake and mountain symbol--there is a huge difference between the two. If BFG TA/KOs was an all weather severe weather rated tire they would be listing that, and the snowflake and mountain logo would be stamped on its sidewall. Did I miss this somewhere, is this a new spec, and BFG has not updated its site? Meeting the severe weather spec with typical 60-80K mile tread compounds is not something that would be very easy to do.
 
Top