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Studdable tires is a category of winter tires that allows both adding or removing metal studs to / from the tread. Providing, therefore, a versatile performance on both ice and snow, studdable tires become a universal winter tire for different road conditions. But are they right for you? Or should you just get yourself a set of new or used winter tires? Utires.com expert explains.
Used studdable tires & winter driving
As unpredictable as the weather itself, road conditions in winter months are full of surprises: freezing temperatures are followed by slush, packed snow is replaced by black ice. Winter tires are specifically manufactured for driving in harsh weather — and that is represented by the peak mountain snowflake symbol on their sidewalls — but in some cases even they are not enough.
Car owners living above 60 North latitude, in mountainous states or regions where roads get really dangerous, should consider buying new or used studdable tires. Studdable winter tires allow adding or removing metal studs to / from the tread, making them suitable both for icy and snowy road conditions.
Studdable winter tires explained
Studdable winter tires are designed to provide versatile performance on winter roads: perfect grip on ice and confident traction in snow. The tread of these winter tires has about 100 tiny holes specially designed for installing metal studs when needed. Winter tires studded with them start acting like a perfect velcro, gripping uneven icy road surfaces and providing the driver with much needed control of the vehicle. Studless winter tires allow its tread design to show its full potential in packed or deep snow.
This combination of characteristics is super handy (though demanding extra time for adding / removing studs) for the drivers, who often travel between destinations with both weather conditions.
7 main characteristics of studdable winter tires
1. Holes along the tread for adding / removing metal studs
The stud is screwed (with the help of a stud gun) into the tread, protruding over its surface about 1/32”. Tire shops will definitely be the better option for adding studs (about $15 per tire). If you need to drive in average winter conditions, the studs need to be removed;
2. Unique sizes of studs for different studdable tire models
Studdable tires don’t come factory equipped with studs (mostly metal, sometimes from hard rubber), you have to purchase them separately (prices around $20 for the set of 200). Keep in mind that the sets would have studs of differing lengths, diameters and screw designs — so better ask in the shop before buying them.
3. Tread pattern, typical for a studless winter tire
Brutal blocks with hard edges allow good traction on snow covered or wet roads, deep grooves help to channel excess water, many sipes and biting edges provide confident car handling on ice / packed snow / wet paved and off-roads.
4. Flexible rubber compound, often with silica filling (technology used by top manufacturers)
Pliable rubber helps to provide perfect contact with the road surface on ice / good traction in snow / reduce rolling resistance. Tread compounds for winter driving cannot be hard — this would turn each wheel into skates and significantly reduce braking capacities.
5. Average load / speed indexes
The combination of a number and a letter in the end of the number on a tire’s sidewall refers to the capacity of this particular tire to carry a certain weight at a certain speed. Let’s take as an example Goodyear UltraGrip Winter 235/55R18 97T tire from our catalogue.
97T means that each tire can carry a load of 1609 lbs (load capacity is “coded” in the numbers from 70 to 126 with 739 lbs to 3748 lbs per wheel accordingly). Therefore, the vehicle equipped with this model of Goodyear UltraGrip Winter can travel with a maximum load of 4827 pounds at a T speed (118 mph) max. The two other usual speed indexes for studded tires are Q, R and S (99, 106, 112 mph accordingly).
6. Shorter lifespan / high wear of studs
Studdable tires provide versatile performance, often in extreme temperatures. They are designed for good traction on packed or deep snow, on slick icy road surfaces. They don’t usually travel on a bare pavement. Therefore, the lifespan of these tires is shorter in comparison to, let’s say, all-season tires. Average — 7 winters depending on the situation.
A used studdable tire would serve you a good 4-5 years if you buy the one that was manufactured about 2 years ago and has decent tread left (10/32” would be like a new one).
And the studs? The dedicated owners of studdable tires (including Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 for SUV) shared at one of the popular car forums, that their studs usually wear to the half within 3 winters of constant use. This is a real customers’ experience, and on our site you are always welcome to share yours!
7. Noisy when studded
This is one of the only “cons” of studdable tires. Not only would these tires make noise on the pavement, but increase the wear of the rims. So if you’re buying new or used studdable tires, it makes sense to get a spare set of rims too.
UTires customers’ choice: top 5 studdable tire models in different price categories
Most of the states will allow the use of a studded tire in winter conditions — but with date restrictions. For example, in New York the studs are legal to install from October the 16th until April the 30th. And down yonder in Dixie land (Texas, Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Louisiana) and in Alaska car owners are only allowed to use tires with rubber studs.
To check out a particular area’s season tires regulations, refer to the state’s Department of Transportation official site. Keep in mind that studded tires also make significant noise when in contact with the paved road. If you mostly drive in a highly populated suburban town, studless winter tires might be a better option.
Only these 6 US states allow to drive on studded winter tires:
For example, your best option would definitely be studdable tires if you need to travel from Colorado (where the studded tires are allowed for winter driving without date restrictions) to Kansas (where driving on studless tires is mandatory even in winter weather). Before entering the latter you must need to remove the studs. Studded tire can significantly damage the pavement, therefore it’s restricted in many states.
Choosing between studded and studdable winter tires? Consider road conditions!
Studded tires: if you are mostly driving on ice
We’ve already established that studded tires are designed for providing confident grip with icy / slick / inclined winter roads... It is the investment in your own, your passengers’ and other drivers’ safety. The studs installed in them are permanent, they cannot be removed. So if you live in one of the 6 cold states listed above, studded tires might be your best option.
But what if you’re driving on ice or snow only occasionally — or more tend to switch between both?
Studdable tires: driving on snowy, wet and dry roads. Plus ice!
The category of used studdable tires featured in our catalogue will give you the versatile performance you are looking for. Their brutal winter tread design and pliable rubber compound allow the best tracking on snow, slush and dry roads. And once the studs are installed, the studded tire becomes ideal for ice conquering!
Remember, a vehicle with studded tires significantly loses traction on dry and wet roads. And you absolutely cannot drive on any kind of winter tires in summer.
Do I need all 4 studdable tires?
Yes and no. If you’re never (like, never) going to use studs then your studdable tire would be performing like a regular winter tire. So you can have a pair of each. But if the road conditions of your state demand the performance exceeding a regular mountain snowflake — and metal studs accompany you on snow and ice covered roads — then your only choice is to install them into each tire. And uneven tread wear is the last thing that you have to worry about!
Using pairs of different tires, one of which is studded, and the other is not, is extremely dangerous. It compromises your vehicle handling, accelerating, cornering and braking capabilities.
Studdable winter tire: to buy or not to buy? A little check-list
In search of a perfect tire drivers tend to dig deep. Go through this check-list and decide if you need the option of metal studs being installed / removed to / from your season tires.
Winters in your state get very cold and the roads become dangerous to drive;
Freezing temperatures can turn wet road surfaces into ice in just a few hours;
You live in one of many states where snow and ice gradually change each other during the winter;
Black ice is very common on your usual routes;
Icy roads prevail in your hometown, but occasionally you need to travel to the places with different winter conditions (or other way around);
You definitely know that average snow / “bare” / non studded tires are not enough for the extreme weather of your region;
You don’t mind the combo of a perfect traction on snow, confident grip on ice and fast braking for your car;
You realize that by getting a set of new or used studdable tires you invest in your safety.
If you ticked at least 7 boxes, it definitely means that you tend to drive in extreme conditions in winter. Check-out UTires selection of best used studdable winter tires — and secure yourself with perfect car handling, traction on snow & confident grip on ice. No magic, just those shiny little studs.
In making the right choice?
Our team of professionals is here to help. Let us know your concern and we will quickly solve it. Just give us a call or go to our live chat.