Are Studded Tires Better Than Regular Winter Tires?

Driving in the winter can be scary depending on how icy the roads are, so you might be wondering if you should buy studded tires or stick with the normal winter rubber. After all, the winter weather can throw all kinds of different obstacles at you and you never know what conditions you’ll be driving in with every turn in the road. But is using studded tires that much better than using regular winter tires?

Is there an advantage to using studded tires?

Studded tires work well in gaining traction on icy and hard-packed snowy roads, so if those are the type of roads that you normally drive on, then studded tires could work well for you. What are studded tires? Simply put, they are winter tires with tiny studs on them that are meant to grip the icy road and give your car more traction. It’s kind of like a mountain climber that uses an ice ax to help him get up a mountain, except studded tires use a lot of tiny ice axes for assistance.

In essence, those tiny studs “anchor” the car to the ground as they actually penetrate the ice to gain traction. As a result, you’ll notice a large improvement in the way your car handles, accelerates, and stops over traditional winter tires.

studded tire tread
BURYATIA, RUSSIA – FEBRUARY 29, 2020: Studs on a snow tyre at the 2020 Baikal Mile Ice Speed Festival held on the frozen surface of the Barguzin Bay on Lake Baikal to set speed records in extreme races on different modes of transport. Sergei Bobylev/TASS (Photo by Sergei Bobylev\TASS via Getty Images)

Is there a disadvantage to using studded tires?

While those little studs on the tires do well in maintaining grip when the roads are icy and snowy, they don’t really help that much on regular wet or dry pavement. Have you ever walked in soccer cleats on a smooth surface? If so, or if you can imagine that, then you’ll know that there’s not a lot of traction since they’re meant to grip softer and more porous surfaces like grass. The same idea goes for studded tires as they need a surface to penetrate and grip on to.

Additionally, if you do happen to drive with studded tires on non-snowy roads, you’ll notice that they are exceptionally noisy as they will making a ticking sound when they hit the pavement. Studded tires can also damage the pavement that you drive on, in fact, some states and cities don’t allow for the use of studded tires because of this.

technician mounting studded tires
BELGOROD, RUSSIA – OCTOBER 21, 2016: A car service worker fitting winter tyres. Anton Vergun/TASS (Photo by Anton Vergun\TASS via Getty Images)

Are studded tires better than winter tires?

While studded tires can provide an improvement in grip over normal winter tires in some snowy situations, they are not always necessary. If you live in an area or have a regular commute, where you’re constantly driving on icy and snow-packed roads, then equipping your car with studded tires can be a necessity.

However, if you live in an area where it only snows some of the time and you don’t have to drive on icy roads on a regular basis, then regular winter tires should get you around town, or even a long distance, just fine.

tech rolling a studded tire
BELGOROD, RUSSIA – OCTOBER 21, 2016: A car service worker fitting winter tyres. Anton Vergun/TASS (Photo by Anton Vergun\TASS via Getty Images)

Ice, Ice, Baby: Why Winter Tires Are Safer for Cold-Weather Driving

According to Bridgestone, many of the studless tires that you can buy today are well-equipped to handle most snowy roads thanks to their ability to maintain their flexibility in colder climates as well as the improved tread depth and designs for better traction in the snow.