Studded vs Studless Winter Tires

Studded vs Studless Winter Tires (performance & grip)

Winter presents special challenges for our vehicles, especially the tires. The more ice and snow on the road, the scarier it is to drive with normal tires. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice, you may wonder whether you should get a regular (studless) pair of winter tires or if you should consider studded winter tires. Keep reading to discover my studded vs studless winter tires comparison.

While studded tires are great on icy roads, they often slip and slide if the road is dry. This can mean they’re dangerous when the ice is gone.

Studless winter tires will help you to be safe in the winter, and in both wet and dry weather.

Key Takeaways of the Article

Key Takeaways

  • Studded tires keep you safest on extreme ice
  • Studded tires are hazardous on dry roads
  • Studless tires are more versatile than studded tires, and they’re appropriate for dry as well as wet winter weather

Which is Better: Studded or Studless Tires?

Here’s a quick reference chart to help you compare studded and studless tires, helping you decide which one is best for you.

Icy RoadsX
Packed snow and iceX
Quiet tiresX
Unpredictable autumn conditionsX
Good for all yearX
Snowy RoadsX

As the table above shows, there are some road conditions where the studded tires will be best and others where it is best to have winter tires without the studs.

Let’s take a look at some different road conditions below and whether they do best with studless or studded tires.

Icy or Snow Roads

Do you spend most of your winter driving time on icy roads as opposed to snowy ones? If so, you should choose studded tires.

Studded Tire on Icy Road

These tires are very helpful for those who live near the coast, where it is common for the roads to get icy and stay that way most of the winter.

However, if you live somewhere that has mostly snow on the road in the winter, non-studded tires are the better option.

Packed Snow or Wet Ice

For those who have winter tires without the studs, you need to be careful at many crossroads and intersections where there is hard-packed snow and wet ice from all the other vehicles stopping.

In this case, you’ll find that studded tires will give you an advantage.

Bare Roads

There are many benefits to having studded tires in the winter, but if you’re looking for a tire that is quiet on bare roads, studded tires are a bad choice.

Studded Tires on Bare Road

To keep your vehicle quiet on dry roads, you should choose non-studded tires.

Unpredictable Autumns

Studless tires can be placed on your vehicle earlier in the autumn than studded tires.

Tires in Autumn

With studless winter tires, you can drive around without having to worry about all the changeable weather conditions that happen during the autumn.

Also, you can keep studless tires on your vehicle longer than studded tires, keeping you safe through the rapid temperature changes that are common in the spring.

The Cost of Studded vs. Non-Studded Tires?

Studded tires tend to cost more than studless.

For a studless winter tire, you can expect to pay somewhere between $60 to $550 per tire, based on what type of vehicle will get the tires.

The Cost of Studded vs Non-Studded Tires

The average price is closer to $100 to $150 for most vehicles, meaning that you would pay between $250 to $600 for a set of four on your vehicle.

If you have an SUV or a light truck, you’re more likely to pay $200 or more per tire, which means a set of four is closer to $800.

Studded tires are more expensive because of the studs that are placed inside.

Expect to pay closer to $250 to $500 per tire to get high-quality studded tires. It is also possible to purchase one or two tires to help replace some of your old wheels as well.

Choosing a Non-Studded Tire

There are many drivers who will choose to purchase a non-studded tire. They’re more versatile than studded tires, so you won’t have to worry if the snow and ice melts.

How to Identify Non-Studded (Studless) Winter Tires

A studless (non-studded) winter tire is a winter tire that doesn’t have studs. It’s simple and easy to look at the tire and see whether there are studs (or a place to put studs) in it.

The Benefits of Non-Studded Tires

Studless winter tires will provide a lot of benefits to those drivers who live in an area that gets light amounts of snowfall and where the temperatures for the winter often go below freezing.

The Benefits of Non-Studded Tires

These tires tend to provide a ride with less noise than studded winter tires.

They have a shorter distance for stopping, both on packed snow and ice compared to all-season tires and studded tires. This makes them safe for many winter conditions.

The Negatives of Non-Studded Tires

Studless tires have a few limitations. You’ll notice them when the roads are extremely slippery and icy.

You won’t have the same ability to get through extreme road conditions like you get with studded tires.

If you live in the mountains or somewhere that is steep and icy during the winter, studless tires aren’t going to cut it and you should go with studded tires instead.

However, if you drive in flatter areas that don’t get extreme winters, you may be fine using the non-studded winter tires all year long.

How to Identify a Studded Tire?

The first thing to look for is whether the tire has studs in it. However, it is possible that the tire will not have the studs in place but rather have special spaces where you can insert them.

How to Identify a Studded Tire?

You should be able to see the molded pins or holds where you should put the studs if you choose to use them.

The tire tread on the studded tires will appear similar to the non-studded tires, so you must look for the pin holes.

The Benefits of Studded Winter Tires

The biggest benefit of choosing a studded winter tire is that you’ll often be able to get a non-studded and a studded winter tire in one.

You can choose to add metal studs into them during the really cold months, and then take them out for the rest of the year.

The Benefits of Studded Winter Tires

To get these benefits, you’ll have to choose a tire that allows you to take the studs out.

For those who plan to drive through more than one state during the winter, this can be useful.

It allows you to take the studs out in states that don’t allow studded tires, and put them back in as you go up mountains or other steep areas when the weather is bad.

The Negatives of Studded Winter Tires

The biggest con of studded winter tires is that it is inconvenient to add or remove the studs in different seasons.

The Negatives of Studded Winter Tires

You should also be aware that some states don’t allow studded winter tires. Check into the rules in your region.

They can also be really noisy to drive on, giving you an uncomfortable ride during most of the winter.

And if you don’t live in an area that gets a lot of snow and extreme ice, it won’t be worth the extra cost to get some of these tires.

Should You Get Studded or Studless Winter Tires?

For most drivers, studless winter tires will be the perfect option to keep them safe on winter roads. However, they may not be enough when the ice is really thick and extreme.

They can be added onto the car earlier in the fall and last further into the spring, keeping you safe when the weather switches back and forth quite a bit.

If you’re going to choose a winter tire, the non-studded option is usually the best pick.

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