Table of Contents
What Are Studded Tires?
Studded tires are tires that have small bits of metal pushed into the tread in order to give the tires extra traction.
Studded tires are built by having a mechanic use a pneumatic gun to insert the studs into small holes in the tire called pin holes. The studs in a studded tire look like thumbtacks pressed into the tread of the tire.
Once the pin holes are full of studs, the studded winter tires offer the driver better handling during winter conditions such as icy and snowy roads.
Studded winter tires provide better handling by digging the metal bits into ice, crushing it upon impact and having the ice pushed out of the tire’s way.
The studs in a studded tire are usually made of very hard metal such as tungsten so they can provide good traction in icy conditions as well as perform standardly on concrete during non-inclement weather times.
How Are Tires Studded?
Tires are studded by a mechanic using a pneumatic gun to insert the studs directly into the tire tread.
The tire and its tread come shipped with holes called pin holes, and there are around 80-100 pinholes built into snow tires.
Snow tires come with these pin holes in case a vehicle owner wants to stud the tires. A mechanic stands over the tire with the gun and inserts the studs one by one into the tread of the tire.
The process takes around 30 minutes per tire, so the shops usually add an extra fee to stud tires since the process is very cumbersome and time consuming.
As a mechanic working in a shop, it was always considered a huge hassle to stud tires, but well worth it since they add so much traction to the vehicle’s handling.
Can You Stud Used Tires?
Technically, it’s possible to stud used tires. If the tread on the used tire is long enough and the stud hole allows for a stud to be inserted, you can put a stud in.
But once a tire hits dry pavement, the tread starts to deteriorate, leaving you with little room left to put in the stud.
And there is almost no shop in America that will stud a used tire for you.
The tread depths have to be just right for you to stud a tire, so if a used tire has any tread taken off of it, you will not be able to stud the tire.
Choosing to buy a new winter tire instead of studding used tires might be in your best interest.
Often, studded tires are considered overkill for their use case. A winter tire might be more appropriate as a winter tire offers lots of benefits for driving in snow and ice but without the studs.
New tires are the safest bet to put tire studs into.
Are Studded Tires Worth It?
Studded tires are worth it if you drive in snowy areas on a regular basis.
The handling and traction you receive from studded tires in icy conditions is unmatched since the metal studs in studded tires actually bite into the ice and snow and give a tire traction when it normally would lack traction.
The metal studs in studded tires are really great at their job and provide lots of traction in icy conditions.
If you live in areas that experience great snow falls only once or twice a year, studded tires are not for you.
Currently, I live in a ski valley, and there’s a lot of my customers who travel up an icy mountain every day in order to get to work.
These types of customers are who studded tires are for. Otherwise, you are getting your tires studded in hopes that you’ll need them only three or four times a year, or whenever it gets icy.
So to recap, if you live in a very icy, cold, and snowy area during the winter, get studded winter tires.
If you only receive snow fall a couple times a year, keep with standard studless winter tires.
Winter Tires Vs Studded Winter Tires
Winter tires differ greatly from studded winter tires. Winter tires are tires that are made from rubber that remain flexible during cold temperatures.
This added flexibility to the tire allows the tire to provide greater traction to the vehicle and it’s driver.
Winter tires also have a specialized tread pattern in them that allow for ice and snow to be flung from the center of the tread outwards, keeping the tread clear of ice and snow.
A winter tire offers the driver better performance in very cold conditions as well as provides traction in icy and snowy conditions through the use of different rubber compounds.
Whereas studded winter tires are winter tires that have had studs mechanically inserted into the tread through the use of a pneumatic gun.
Studded winter tires compared to regular winter tires are really no competition, since studs in your tires offer you much better handling in icy conditions.
Studded tires literally claw into the ice as you drive over it and even crush it with the hard metal the studs are made out of, so the traction you receive from studded tires is much greater than just using studless winter tires.
How Do Studded Tires Wear?
Studded tires wear quite differently than normal tires.
The first issue is that the metal casings the studded pins reside in wear quicker than the actual studded pins themselves.
This will leave the studs with an odd shape that will have some different effects on your tire. For example, worn studs won’t be effective at keeping traction in deep snow as they were when they were new.
Worn studded tires also have the capability to hurt the actual tire themselves by cutting into them and causing a puncture.
These potential punctures can cause your tires to run low on pressure, in turn deteriorating the tire by riding on low tire pressure.
A tire running constantly on low tire pressure is very damaging to a tire, and the issue should be remedied immediately.
The Legality Of Studded Tires
Studded tires aren’t legal in all states. They aren’t legal because studded tires can do damage to the roads when there’s no snow or ice on the ground.
The studded tires have the potential to rip up the concrete since the metal used in studded tires is so hard compared to the concrete.
So check with your state’s ordinances before you get studded tires, but as a rule of thumb, states with lots of snow tend to be more lenient on studded tires.
And states that have level roads and lots of traffic will require the driver to go with studless winter tires. And some states only allow them during certain times of the year.
The following list offers you an idea as to which states allow studded tires and during which times.
Alaska studded tires: Allowed year-round
Arizona studded tires: Prohibited
Arkansas studded tires: Allowed
Colorado studded tires: Allowed October 1 - May 31
California studded tires: Prohibited
Georgia Studded Tires: Prohibited
Idaho studded tires: Allowed November 1 - April 30
Illinois studded tires: Prohibited
Indiana studded tires: Prohibited
Iowa studded tires: Prohibited
Kansas studded tires: Prohibited
Kentucky studded tires: Prohibited
Maine studded tires: Allowed November 1 - April 30
Maryland studded tires: Prohibited
Massachusetts studded tires: Prohibited
Michigan studded tires: Allowed November 1 - April 30
Minnesota studded tires: Allowed October 1 - May 15
Missouri studded tires: Prohibited
Montana studded tires: Allowed October 1 - May 31
Nebraska studded tires: Prohibited
New Hampshire studded tires: Allowed November 1 - April 30
New Jersey studded tires: Prohibited
New Mexico studded tires: Prohibited
New York studded tires: Prohibited
Nevada studded tires: Allowed
North Dakota studded tires: Allowed November 1 - April 30
Ohio studded tires: Prohibited
Oklahoma studded tires: Prohibited
Oregon studded tires: Allowed November 1 - April 30
Pennsylvania studded tires: Prohibited
Rhode Island studded tires: Prohibited
South Dakota studded tires: Allowed November 1 - April 30
Tennessee studded tires: Prohibited
Texas studded tires: Prohibited
Utah studded tires: Allowed November 1 - April 30
Vermont studded tires: Allowed November 1 - April 30
Virginia studded tires: Prohibited
Washington studded tires: Allowed November 1 - April 30
West Virginia studded tires: Prohibited
Wisconsin studded tires: Prohibited
Wyoming studded tires: Allowed November 1 - April 30
About The Author
Christopher Sparks has been servicing vehicles since 2012. After completing the automotive studies program at Camden County College, he was awarded an Associates's Degree in Applied Science. His first job was a lube-tech at Jiffy Lube, and is currently an independent B-Technician servicing vehicles for the United States Postal Service. Christopher is ASE certified and loves rebuilding engines.Read more about Christopher Sparks