Thursday, October 10, 2019

Don't Buy Studded Snow Tires, Please

Studded Snow Tire
Winter is coming.

I was talking to my tire guy the other day and asked if he had Nokian snow tires. I'd read those were the best snow tires available. He said they only have studded Nokian tires. So I said I'd stick with the Blizzaks or try the Michelin snow tires (if I need new snow tires; I've yet to determine that by measuring the tread depth on the ones I have).

A lot of people where I live swear by studded snow tires. These tires have steel studs in the tread to, supposedly, increase traction in snow and ice.

Unfortunately, they don't work. Studded snow tires are less safe than a good winter (snow) tire in dry and wet conditions. They are also less safe on snow and ice, what they are supposed to be best for. That is because the studs lower the size of the contact patch of each tire down to the size of a postage stamp. (The contact patch is the area that your tire touches the road.) This reduces traction, not increases it.

In addition, Washington State estimates (PDF file) that studded tires cause
Ruts repaired in a road
between $12 million and $18 million in damage every year in the state alone. You can see this on interstate, or other busy, highways where there are ruts worn in the pavement. Ruts that fill with water that can cause hydroplaning or, if the water freezes, slides. The roads then have to be expensively  repaired.

I, frankly, wish the state would just ban them. Buy a good set of stud-less snow tires. I personally recommend Blizzaks.

But don't buy studded tires. Please.

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