Serious winter conditions call for studded tires
Studded tires are equipped with tiny metal studs designed to “stick out” past the tire tread. These metal studs dig into ice and packed snow, giving you improved traction in less-than-ideal driving conditions. Tires that bite into ice. Getting studded tires. Some off-road tires are studdable. Studded tires perform the best on icy roads. Period. Why is stopping power better on studded winter tires? It’s all in the name. These tires allow for studs to be installed across the tread face, giving drivers better side-to-side and front-to-back grip. This kind of traction is critical on ice. If you live in an area with unpredictable weather, studded tires are a good idea.
Where you’ll most likely find ice
- Mountain passes are icier and often hide black ice. Shadows linger here until later in the day, making it more difficult for the sun to melt the icy patches.
- Foggy areas like coastal regions or areas near rivers might have a lot of ice too. Fog condenses into water, which can freeze on the road.
- Intersections can also be pretty icy. As snow melts from daily use, it can freeze overnight, causing slippery conditions.
- Bridges are often icy, cooling down to freezing air temperatures more quickly than roads.
What are studded tires and how do they work?
Studded tires are specially designed winter tires that have up to a hundred metal studs embedded into each tire. Each stud only protrudes about 1/32 of an inch from the tire’s surface but under the full weight of the car, these studs claw at ice and snow on the road like tiny pickaxes.
As the tires rotate, the studs break into layers of ice on the road and grip into packed snow. This gives the tires greater traction and control than stud less tires.
What conditions are studded tires best suited to?
If you live outside major cities or urban areas—or regularly find yourself driving on less-travelled roads that aren’t always fully paved, plowed, or salted—winter tires may not fully cut it. In these conditions, you might want to consider studded tires.
Icy roads in particular are where studded tires really shine. They can break through layers of ice on the road to deliver superior grip and traction that far exceeds anything a set of winter tires can provide.
In light snow or wet conditions, the benefits of studded tires are more marginal and can sometimes even result in reduced traction.
Two main downsides of studded tires
Studded tires are extremely effective in the proper conditions, but they also have their drawbacks.
- Reduced traction in certain conditions
For starters, if you’re using them in the wrong conditions—such as on a clear road with no ice or hard packed snow—studded tires deliver reduced traction. This is because the studs are then the primary point of contact with the road surface, so the treadblocks are making less contact with the road.
- Damage to paved roads
Likewise, studded tires can take a considerable toll on paved roads. Just as they can break through layers of ice, they can damage pavement and wear down roads, leading to divots and rutting. For these reasons, studded tires aren’t allowed in some regions of Canada.
Are studded tires legal in Alberta?
In Alberta, there are no restrictions at all on the use of studded tires. They can be used by any vehicle throughout the year. However, there is legislation in place that makes damage to roads by studs and chains an offence.
Generally, the province of Alberta recommends the use of studded tires only when conditions warrant their use.
Buying Tips for Your Winter Tires
If you’re shopping around for winter tires, here are a couple things to keep in mind.
The long-awaited Canadian winter has arrived, and with the sudden drop in temperature comes the much-anticipated ice, snow, and slush. These seasonal features can be pretty on the eyes, but not so pretty on the roads – especially if you’re driving without winter tires.
Winter tires are engineered to prevent your car from losing control on slippery surfaces. They’re built with deep grooves and treading for drivers who need better grip and handling on the road. If you’re shopping around for winter tires, here are a couple things to keep in mind:
- Optimize for Performance
The tread rubber on winter tires is designed to provide drivers with enhanced traction when it comes to stopping faster, climbing hills, and preventing slippage. As tempting as it might be to install two winter tires as opposed to four, the different treading on the wheels could damage the lining on your vehicle. Having four winter tires is important because they will optimize the performance of your car in harsh weather conditions and prevent you from spinning out while you’re driving.
Built for durability in freezing conditions, winter tires perform better in cold temperatures and should be removed when the temperature goes above 7 degrees – heat can cause the rubber to wear out prematurely and decrease their number of useful years.
- Install your Winter Tires Properly
Driving through winter conditions can take a serious toll on your vehicle, and it’s extremely important to make sure that your winter tires are installed the right way to reap the benefits of them. Otherwise, you could be at greater risk of a collision on the road. In order to avoid wear on your vehicle, bring your car into a mechanic to ensure that the tires are properly mounted. Not only will this save you from dealing with damage to your car, but you’ll also be kept safe on the road.