By on February 24, 2010

Maybe the title should be “What Grates My Ears”, because there is no automotive sound that more predictably induces a spike of cortisol than the clatter of studded tires on pavement. As they steadily chew up the roads in Maritime western Washington and Oregon, where it snows once every couple of years or so, it’s also the sound of idiocy, greed and government’s inability to act on the obvious. That so few are allowed to create so much public damage, is truly mind boggling, especially as it results in little or no actual benefit to them. The conditions under which spikes offer some possible benefit (sheet ice) exist about 1% of the time. Even then, the actual improvement under those conditions is only 10%! And contrary to the popular myth, spikes offer little or no benefit on snow, and are materially worse on wet pavement, which of course is what it is most of the time on the west coast. And it’s not just the millions in dollars ($17 million per year in Washington alone) in damage alone that’s the problem; spikes make the roads much more dangerous for everyone, including the spikers.

It first hit me on one of my not infrequent I5 shuttles to Portland, on a rainy day a few years back. My car kept wanting to hydroplane, even though it was only raining very lightly. I suddenly realized that the grooves cut into the pavement from studded tires creates a continuous trough where water collects and sits. And the car wants to naturally stay in this trough, like being trapped in trolley tracks. How many accidents happen because if this highly dangerous situation?

The folks behind me may think I’m loony, but I now always drive to the extreme left or right side of the lane, depending which lane I’m in, even in dry weather. The roughness of the chewed up pavement dramatically reduces the ride quality and increases noise in a small light car like my xB. But it doesn’t do much for my seething anger at the inability of government to ban the damn things.

Many European countries, Japan, and some forward thinking states like Minnesota have. And guess what: studless drivers are still getting around just fine. And it’s not like the majority of the population in states like Washington and Oregon wouldn’t be more than happy to see them go, since the bulk of them live on the western (mild and wet) side of the mountains; its a few greedy representatives that like to go skiing on the eastern slopes that have held up repeated attempts at legislation.

How bad is the damage? Asphalt roads with average daily traffic volume (ADT) of 35k reach a rut threshold requiring repair after seven years. And concrete pavement with an ADT of 120k is shot after eight years. In Southern California, there are concrete freeway pavements that date back to the forties. The ironic thing is that passenger cars normally create almost immeasurable damage to roadways; it all comes from heavy trucks. But the spikes chew away at the pavement (and my ears) like little beavers.

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51 Comments on “What Grinds My Gears: Studded Snow Tires...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    These are banned in Ontario except in the more northerly parts of the province. Even then, you’re just as well served by hub-attached spike spiders for the few times you find yourself somewhere where you’d need them. I think in all the time I was up in those kinds of places I used them about six times, and then only on some really bad logging roads where I probably shouldn’t have taken a passenger car in the first place.

    Every other time I used a snowmobile.

    Are they really allowed in Oregon? Do you even get that much snow?

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      The Portland, Oregon area gets quite a few ice storms or silver thaws…one of the few weather conditions in which studded tires actually help. I remember riding in my father’s 1950 Packard on I-5 in the Willamette Valley with sheet ice on everything; at a constant speed on straight freeway the car kept wanting to drift off to one side or theother. Here in the part of western WA where I live we’ve only had one of those in the last thirty years or so; I stayed home until it melted.

      Too many freeways around here have stud ruts that fill with water when it rains…I agree that studded tires should be banned – real studless winter tires work better most of the time, and they don’t destroy the road surfaces like studded tires do.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I have a similar pet peeve – speeding lifted trucks or ultra lowered cars (can’t see around the big tippy ones or see the little ones weaving in and out of traffic).

  • avatar
    PickupMan

    Hear, Hear!

    Since moving from Wisconsin (where studs were outlawed in the 70s) to Oregon, I’ve wondered how many people put them on -just in case- this is the 1 year in 3 that snow reaches the valley floor.

    Perhaps it should be law that you have to show a season pass to one of the ski hills on Mt. Hood before Les Schwab can mount your studs.

    • 0 avatar
      98SuperC

      This is actually a brilliant idea. You typically have to buy a snow park pass (daily or seasonally) to park your car in most of the snow-season recreation areas of the state. This pays for snow plows etc. They actually could write a rule that says you can’t have studded tires unless you have this tag and/or adjust the fees for the tag with/without studs. Could exempt certain classes of vehicles (trucks typically chain up anyway) or just apply this to registration in certain counties (in the valley) that have the rare snow days (rather than the eastern parts of the state).

  • avatar
    98SuperC

    Since I am living the dream here in both Western Wash and Oregon, I have thought about this as well. I think the mentality of studded users is either extremely risk-averse people who might have gotten stuck once in the last 5 years going to the grocery store- or it is the occasional Skier crowd that uses studs to avoid the time/hassle of chaining up on rare Saturdays when either is required. Definitely agree that the damage outweighs the benefits and that this is unlikely to change as this is widely assumed to be a safety-related choice amongst the most fearful on the roads. Getting rid of this will be just as hard as getting rid of No-Self-Serve Gas in Oregon, which was legislated in the 1950′s as a safety measure, but Oregonians can’t seem envision living without it.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I don’t know about this. While I agree completely with the idea that studs aren’t any good in 90% of the country, I would, from personal experience, object mightily to any blanket bans.

    Here’s where I’ve found they work very well. Long uphill driveway, frequently with thick ice covered in inches of snow. The newest non-stud snows work great so long as you don’t hit that ice (I’m talking momentum run), but when you do that snow-on-snow traction thing goes right out the door, as it is quickly melted off the tire. With studded tires you almost never even get wheelspin in the first place, as the weight of the car pushes the metal into the layer of ice. It is unquestionable that the studless snows work better in every other context, but this particular situation can be the difference between getting groceries or not in a rural area.

    • 0 avatar
      autoarcheologist

      So I have to deal with sh1tty roads because a few people won’t pay to properly clear their driveways?

      Your driveway is your problem, not mine.

      I’m all for banning them. I also hate studs, and assume anyone with studs uses them a crutch for lack of driving abilities.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      “Your driveway is your problem, not mine”

      Right…
      Actually, my driveway is one of the few that is professionally plowed, and not half-assed. And yet we still need to let snow accumulate when there’s a multiple inch ice sheet at the bottom it all (which happens overnight btw). It’s the only way to get non-studded cars up it. And it’s not just driveways, many roads develop the same condition as they aren’t plowed 4 times immediately during sundown to keep the ice broken up, and once they are truly frozen over, are unplowable. So, we (and many neighbors) keep an awd vehicle with studs for keeping appointments or emergencies in general.
      I love the assumption that you could drive a non studded car uphill on thick sheet ice due to your obviously superior skills. Betcha it won’t happen, you need a snow cover and momentum to even make it work on new non-stud tires, and I know that, because we have 3 other cars so outfitted that just have to stay parked several times a year.

  • avatar

    Studded tires suck.
    http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tests/testDisplay.jsp?ttid=94

    I’ve used studless Bridgestone Blizzaks for years and unless you get high centered, they’ll claw their way through anything, including up ice covered, gravel hills and snow blasted mountain passes. The only time I’ve ever thought a studded tire would have an advantage was on a long grade, with heavy ice, covered with fresh rain. Even then, the Blizzaks made it. Studded tires should be banned from all paved roads.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Yes, let’s test the best studless tires against the cheapest studded tire you can possibly find, and probably not even on wet ice. This one is better, though still far from complete. I’d like to see Tirerack test the studded Altimax Arctic against some studless tires, especially on wet ice.

      http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tests/testDisplay.jsp?ttid=123

      Here’s a more comprehensive test, from Norway. Guess what, the studded tires dominate.

      http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=no&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.naf.no%2FForbrukertester%2FDekk%2FDekktester%2FVinterdekktest-2009%2F

      All the ruts here in Saskatchewan, where studded tires are legal year-round and useful almost daily for about four months of the year, are double wide. Yet I’ve never seen a semi or even a dually with studded tires, so who should we blame?

      Personally, I’d like to see more studs and no salt, dirt, or gravel. None of that stuff is necessary with studs.

    • 0 avatar
      flomulgator

      the tirerack test is a comparison of “studdable” (NOT studless) tires with and without studs. Studdable tires left unstudded are simply inferior to studless tires, because the rubber has to be stiff enough to hold a stud. Because there is no studless tire in that test, you are trying to compare apples and oranges. Of course a studded tire is going to perform better than the exact same tire without studs (off pavement).

      The Swedish test is hard to make sense of, because they list only brands, not actual tires. I’m guessing its the same kind of “to pin or not to pin” test as the tirerack link. I perused a Google Translate scan of the results of the big Swedish test earlier this year and it concluded studs win out over studless on pure ice, but the percentage improvement was small. Studless now win outright in snow conditions. Times are a changin.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I realize that the Tire Rack test I posted is poor (like all TR winter tire tests), but the point is that the Firestone Winterforce performs poorly on ice compared to even the non-studded General Altimax Arctic (the old version of the Gislaved Nord Frost), which performs poorly compared to its studded version. The other interesting piece of information from the TR test I posted: studding the Altimax Arctic improved ice braking by 34%, while only reducing wet and dry braking performance by about 5%.

      You have to click the links under the “Test results and winners of the winter test” heading (below the main picture) to get any real information on the Norwegian article. I don’t know how to post links to those pages. The data available and number of tires tested makes the Tire Rack tests look pretty pathetic. Many of the tires are not available in North America, but if you look at the tread patterns you’ll notice that some are available here under different names.

      I don’t know how you determined that studless tires performed better on snow. Studs don’t affect snow performance. The top two tires in the snow braking and acceleration tests were studded. The top five tires in the snow “maneuver” test were studded. The two best tires for wet braking were non-studded, but the four worst tires in that category were also non-studded. None of the studless tires performed well on ice.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    I suspect that if you follow the money you’ll find that the legislators in opposition to a ban on studded tires get generous campaign donations from the construction companies that get the contracts to resurface the roads.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    I TOTALLY agree… when I lived in Seattle the grooves left by studded tires on I-5 used to cause a harmonic vibration in the chassis of my Miata… it drove me CRAZY! Every part of the car would vibrate!

  • avatar
    stroker49

    Here in Sweden winter tires are mandatory in the winter. But now when there are realy good studless winter tires they become more and more popular. I have tested them and was impressed. Not even on ice was there a big difference. I bought a used car two years ago and studded tires came with it. But I will buy studless next time. Not only for the sake of the roads but studless are so much quieter and more comfortable. One big disadvantage with the studs are that you can not take the car to Germany in the winter unless you want to pull the studs with a pair of plier on a dark rainy German boarder!

  • avatar
    turbosaab

    Not sure how your road wear statistics are relevant without knowing what % of vehicles use studded snow tires. I’d be surprised if there are enough studded snow tires in Oregon to actually make a significant difference in terms of road wear.

    Here in NH where it actually snows, the roads are destroyed by other causes (frost heaves, potholes, plows, etc) well before we have chance to wear grooves in them.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      All too many, and the roads are rutted from them, just as in the picture above. Oregon incurs over $10 million in damage directly attributable to studs. Did you think I was imagining this?

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      “Here in NH where it actually snows, the roads are destroyed by other causes (frost heaves, potholes, plows, etc) well before we have chance to wear grooves in them.”

      good point, my situation is much the same when in upstate NY. So much so that I have to rotate my favorite routes to account for how recently road repair has been performed.

      I’ll continue to stick up for studs in limited circumstances, but I’d also call someone a fool for fitting more than one of their cars with a set. They really are so bad on dry pavement that you almost need a second car for driving any meaningful distance. Not to mention the fact that many cities have their own stud bans (NYC) even if those tickets are only issued at fund raiser roadblocks, where they ticket any thing they damn well can.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Turbo, that’s the whole problem: In NH, you have snow covering your roads so the studs aren’t grinding them up. Here in western OR, we’ve had snow-covered roads for exactly zero days this years, but there’s still thousands of people zooming around on studs. Paul isn’t imagining it, it’s a very real problem. It may be a small percentage that have studs, but it’s enough to f*** up the roads for the rest of us.

      Paul, if you want to start a ballot intiative to outlaw studs in OR, count me in.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed about the plows – as far as I can tell, overzealous/careless plowing does far more damage to roads than even heavy trucks.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    Sure, studded tires aren’t good for the roads, but I grew up in Eastern WA where black ice on the roads is a real concern during the winter (this winter, not so much). I’ve driven through central WA on iced-over I90 with my FWD, four studded tires, and antilock brakes with no issues while others were sliding off the road right and left (literally). But I only mount up my studs when there is a high probability of needing them and take them off when I get back home (and I realize that most people don’t do this, they leave them on for the entire season).

    As far as road wear goes, if you REALLY want to do something about it, forget studded tires, they do nowhere near the damage as the 18-wheelers do. We as the motoring public could save millions of $ per year if we got most of the heavy freight off of the (taxpayer-funded) roads and back onto the rails where it belongs. Of course this will never happen.

    The interstate highway system was the beginning of the end for freight transit by rail. There was no way that the rail companies, which owned, operated, and maintained their railways, could compete with the new interstate highway system that the trucks (with non-unionized drivers) could use at no cost to the trucking companies. Yes, I realize that they are taxed now, but it still doesn’t undo the damage to our roads that these trucks cause.

    Studded tires are going the way of the VHS player. Costco doesn’t even carry them any longer, and most other tire stores in my area push the studless winter tires. This problem is resolving itself I think. I’m not for an outright ban on studs as I feel that there are certain situations where they are useful.

    • 0 avatar
      stroker49

      Redmondjp: “…while others were sliding off the road right and left (literally)”. Did they have studless winter tires or summer tires? Summer tires are completely useless in the winter. Too little tread and a compound that will be hard when cold. In Europe we actually have two types of studless winter tires. The continental type that is softer than summer tires, don’t get hard and with some more tread than a normal summer tire. Then we have the (real deal) north european style that are the most popular unstudded winter tires in Sweden, Norway and Finland. They have much more tread and looks like a classic studded tire but without the studs. Great on snow, quite good also an black ice but not as good in 100 mph on a wet autobahn.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      stroker49:
      As to what type of tires the others had on, I’m guessing here but most likely answers are: 1) whatever came on the car from the factory, or 2) “all-season” tires.

      I have been crossing mountain passes in the winter my entire life (going to the grandparents’ place as a child, sitting in the back seat of the LTD being quiet so my dad could listen to the road to see if it was just wet or frozen), and the thing that scares me the most is not the weather conditions but all the idiots up there, driving 4×4 SUVs at breakneck speeds, or RWD sports cars with no weight in the back AND fat, summer tires on them. I laugh as I drive by one of these vehicles stuck in 4′ of snow in the median that had passed me a half-hour earlier.

      I agree that with the latest generation of studless winter tires, studs are hardly even necessary any longer. I remember back in the 1970s putting two “snow tires” (we usually did NOT get them studded) on the back, and their dry-pavement traction was horrible! In the rain–watch out!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    How bad is the damage? Asphalt roads with average daily traffic volume (ADT) of 35k reach a rut threshold requiring repair after seven years. And concrete pavement with an ADT of 120k is shot after eight years. In Southern California, there are concrete freeway pavements that date back to the forties.

    To be fair, SoCal doesn’t see the seep/freeze/crack/thaw/seep cycle that kills roads in places with freezing temperatures.

  • avatar
    georgie

    I agree with redmondjp.
    I live in Western Montana and studded tires are widely used in this area. The first flake of snow that falls the folks are at the tire shops having their studded tires put on (many people in this area have an extra set of wheels with the studded tires already mounted) Most users leave them on until May, which is normally way past any inclement weather.
    The studded tires do a great deal of damage to the concrete road and bridge surfaces. They can ruin the surface of a concrete highway or bridge in short order.
    Montana DOT does not have the adequate funds to routinely repair and resurface the roads and highways damaged by use of studded tires. So as a consequence the roads have to go a long time before repair / repaving.
    I frankly don’t understand why folks with a good set of snow tires and a four wheel drive vehicle (competently driven) find they need studded tires.
    I agree with you on the issue of heavy freight. I believe it belongs on the rails and not on the highways. In my view 18 wheelers are a major contributor to wear and tear on our highways.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    Yeah, heavy trucks do most of the damage to our roads, and states with freeze/thaw cycles have it even worse.

    As for studded tires, they have value in only rare cases, black ice or similar. Probably best to stay off the roads then, but if you do choose to use studded tires, they should come with a fee at the purchase point. You should pay up front that additional fee, and the state could throw it in with the regular road money, to pay for their road property that you’re presumably destroying. $25 a tire or so, and I bet everybody goes to tire rack and buys regular snow tires, at that point. Or buy studs if you want to pay the price, your choice.

  • avatar
    skor

    Legal to use in Jersey between 14 November and 1 April. Was very common when I was kid, I hardly every see(hear) them anymore.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    As a resident of Beaverton Oregon, I feel I should put in my 2 cents. I see the same stuff with ruts and torn up pavement but I have hit black ice so I understand some of the rationale. I do have studded tires for my Saturn, originally purchased because 4 studded tires was cheaper then spike spiders and you can’t put chains on an SL2. My stud use falls into the “occasional skier” pattern since I used them for a trip to Mt Hood and occasional runs over the pass to Bend, plus the 2 weeks of heavy snow at the end of 2008.
    On the other hand I don’t always put the studded tires on in the winter because some years I don’t go over the pass or ski and I can live without the noise and cost of swapping. Also I have decided that the next “winter car” gets studless or spikes/chains.

  • avatar
    Garak

    In Finland, according to studies, less than 20% of cars have studless winter tires, but they cause about 30% of accidents. However, we have much worse weather conditions than Oregon or Washington.

    • 0 avatar

      @ Garak:

      Source?

      Based on objective tests and personal experience, I find it hard to believe the use of modern, studless winter tires increase the odds of being involved in an accident.

      http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tests/testDisplay.jsp?ttid=94

  • avatar
    nikita

    I live in Southern California, but at 6000ft MSL a few miles from Snow Valley ski resort. I checked the vehicle code and studs are legal here, but NO ONE uses them. We have snowfall in feet and chains are a requirement except for 4WD or AWD with snow (all season or all terrain) tires. Dedicated winter tires are not practical because hot weather may be only a few minutes drive down SR 330, even this time of year.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I always assumed that the ruts on I5 were from the ground being so soft from all that g0ddamn rain.

  • avatar
    flomulgator

    As a fellow Western Washington resident, I too agree that they are a waste of public resources and should be discouraged (banned or taxed). However, I believe it is a legacy issue and feel I can provide a little insight here.

    Growing up here in the 80′s and 90′s (I’m just giving out all kinds of personal information in this post!) we were a ski-every-weekend kind of family. We had studs on our ski-bound vehicles in the winter. This was before traction and stability control, mind you, as well as before the studless alternative era. It was either spin one tire, slowly spin one tire with “regular” snow tires, or pay 40 bucks for studs and actually get somewhere. Decades of that reality tend to make a deep impression well beyond a paradigm shift.

    Secondly, when I was in college and poor and east of the Cascades, “studless” snows were still nascent and expensive. Like literally 3 times the price of regular snow tires, and still only kinda good compared to studs on sheet ice. Needless to say, again I sprung for studs. After a few years studless settled to about twice the cost of regular snow tires, but stayed that way for a number of years. Again I bet that left an impression on a lot of people, especially those with less income in rural areas on the east side of the state. In the last few years, studless ice grip technology has improved significantly (in my own experience and backed by recent Tire Rack objective tests) and the market has become much more competitive, resulting in a narrowing of that price gap. As a result the # of people who simultaneously can still afford a lift ticket but can’t afford studless snow tires is rapidly approaching zero. Just remember that impressions last though.

    After the 2008 snowstorm taxis have them now (again, the cost) on their rears, which drives me crazy!
    Oh and as a foot note, no car owned by anyone in my family has run studs since 2004, all non-truck vehicles now run studless winters. I am on my 2nd pair, the Michelin Xice Xi2′s.

  • avatar
    thirty-three

    Well, that explains why driving on the I5 to Seattle is so noisy. On the Canadian side of the border, some people can’t even be bothered to use all season tires during the cold season!

    Summer tires + RWD + icy bridge deck = spin-o-rama.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    I live near Olympia, WA. and I too see vehicles with studded tires. I saw a parked Subaru a week or two ago with studded tires, with the sun shining away. It seems to be a waste of money to have an extra set of wheels and studded tires simply ‘in case’ there may be bad weather.

  • avatar
    daga

    I doubt those tramlines are from studded tires but I have about as much scientific data as the Toyota hearings had. Just seems like too unlikely that the track and location of the cars is that precise. I thought it just came from heavy traffic over asphalt vs concrete.

    • 0 avatar

      @ daga:

      Paul’s photo and assessment look accurate to me.

      I’ve traveled some very high traffic areas (both concrete and asphalt) where studded tires aren’t commonly used, and they don’t have ruts like that. Instead, there’s a more gradual depression formed over both tire paths (or track) in each lane, regardless of the road crown. Studded tires chew at the center of those common tire paths, causing the damage seen above. Throw in the accelerated rate of decay caused by exposing a porous surface to the elements, and studded tire use compounds its damage. Unless someone else has a better hypothesis as to how a road could be abraded so dramatically, I’ll go with PN’s explanation.

      Modern winter tires are nothing like what was available even 15 years ago. Dry, wet, snow, or ice, they work very well for their intended season, cause no more damage to roads than any other non-studded tire, offer perfectly acceptable NVH, and cost no more than any other quality tire. Whatever advantage studded tires may offer (tests show there is none) is clearly offset by their disadvantage in every other measurable way. If I owned a tire shop, I’d slap a set of Blizzaks on a beater and let unbelievers see what they’re missing. I’d also refuse to sell studded tires.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Blizzaks? The ones that were disqualified from this Swedish tire test for being unsafe on dry pavement, where the studded tires were fine, even though they also outperformed the Blizzaks in winter conditions?

      http://legacygt.com/forums/printthread.php?t=3043

    • 0 avatar
      flomulgator

      2004 isn’t exactly current.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Toasty said earlier that he’s been using Blizzaks for years. So he was probably using them around the time of that test and didn’t seem to notice the poor performance on dry roads.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    Tire technology keeps getting better and better. I had a chance to try the studded Hankook W401 Zovac (195/70R14, 98 Camry) against the Michelin Primacy Alpin PA3 (215/60R16, 02 ES300) on a sheet of ice in front of our home, stopping from 10 mph, at -10C. While I acknowledge the car weight/footprint was different, the Michelin still stopped quicker (~1.5-1.7 car lengths) versus the studded Hankooks (~2 car lengths).

    For me the argument of studded vs unstudded is as irrelevant as hybrid vs diesel: both is better than either/or.

  • avatar
    Ion

    Studded tires and chains are legal here in New State but no-one uses them here in NYC suburbia and none of the tire places sell them directly. I imagine that changes as you go upstate where the towns are more rural.

    My first car had a snow tire when I bought it, made for an uncomfortable and noisy ride.

  • avatar
    rickkop

    I agree studded snow tires are not for everyone. The are noisy and the ride is far from comfortable compared to my summer tires. But if you spent your winters in upstate New York State you would be aware of the advantages of studded snow tires. I have had studless blizzaks and others but sorry, there is no comparison.

  • avatar
    criminalenterprise

    Around here we get ruts in the road from horses and buggies. I can’t bring myself to get upset about it.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Grew up in North Idaho, my parents still live there. We moved from Michigan and Indiana in the early 90s. Those states studs were outlawed way back in the day.

    Move there, we used all seasons before. Everyone says “gotta get studs” so my folks do. Snow tires are a good recommendation, where things are wet/slushy most of the time in the midwest due to salt use, up there, its compact snow with sand/gravel on top. Snows make a big difference.

    But my god, it didn’t take long to realize that these things were incredibly noisy (think early 90s Japanese cars with them on), and the handling was spooky in anything but snow/ice. They wore them out, switched to the highest rated dedicated winter/snow tires, and the difference is astounding. Its quiet, the tires are just as good on anything but pure ice (is anything good on ice??), they handle and stop well, and they seem to last longer too.

    But I will agree they need to go. If you have that much snow (like I know Idaho does), chain up. Otherwise, you should see some of these grooves on I90 in Idaho and Spokane, WA…..there are places where you literally don’t have to steer, its like riding train tracks. For those who talk safety in the ice, let me ask you how safe it is for the rest of us who have to put up with hydroplaning in the ruts….happens all times of the year, not just 1-2 times a winter like ice. And the spookiest is changing lanes where they’re really awful, especially in the snow. You’ll start going, nothing happens (you’re stuck in the groove), then the car suddenly lurches out or across the grooves, providing a seriously spooky wiggle to the car. I’ve seen people go into the ditch when this happens. Of course, hydroplaning in the same situation is also possible. It just throws the car way off balance.

    And yes, the noise is much higher. It gets draining always going left or right of the ruts, then getting jerked around by them when you change lanes.

    Spokane Valley had a beautiful new concrete road surface put in I’d say maybe 7 years ago now (if my memory holds). Its already very worn, though not dangerous. When it first opened, it was like riding on air. So quiet, so smooth. Now, it hums and sends vibrations through the car. Roads that are not high quality concrete (say asphalt) I’d say need repair every few years.

    They need to go. Far far far far too little benefit for way way way way too much cost.

  • avatar

    @ rpn453:

    Any study that found a currently available Bridgestone Blizzak tire as being unsafe on dry pavement, but found any studded tire to be fine on dry pavement, is extremely suspect to me. Years ago, I drove a relative’s car with studded tires and hated every minute of it. Admittedly, that’s very limited exposure to studded tires, and I never drove them on their intended surface.

    A friend of mine has run a variety of Blizzak tires for the past 15 years or so, has been quite happy with them, and has noted that the Blizzak line continues to improve. Personally, I’ve had Blizzak WS-50 (studless snow & ice) on a 2004 Accord, LM-25 on a 2006 Civic Si (winter performance), and WS-60 (superseded the WS-50) on a 2007 Fit. I found the WS-50 & WS-60 offered comparable snow & ice performance, but the WS-60 shows a definite improvement in noise and tramlining, to the point where it feels just like any other quality tire on dry and wet surfaces. The LM-25 compromises snow & ice capability for a sportier feel on dry pavement, but the WS-60 is so good, I’d pick it next time. The only way to get the WS-60 equipped Fit stuck is to severely high center it. It can claw its way through anything short of that, and it feels very planted most of the time.

    I’m willing to concede that a studded tire may offer some advantages in some conditions (water on ice, for example), but those conditions are far from the typical winter conditions the vast majority of people face. In 2007, TireRack found that a studded tire performed worse than the Blizzak WS-60 and two other studless tires. It’s worth noting that the studded tire chewed up the ice, strongly suggesting to me that similar, cumulative damage would be incurred by concrete or asphalt surfaces.
    http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tests/testDisplay.jsp?ttid=94

    Spinning carbide teeth are hard on pretty much everything, apparently including Japanese lungs. TireRack doesn’t cite their sources about studs causing roadway rutting, but I have no reason to doubt them, as they’ll happily sell you studded and studless tires. You’ll note TireRack observed that “none of these ‘studless’ tires can totally equal a studded tire’s traction on all types of ice.”
    http://www.tirerack.com/winter/tech/techpage.jsp?techid=151

    If I lived where conditions warranted using studded tires, I’d mount them on a second vehicle just for the times they were needed. Otherwise, I’d keep some tire cables or chains in my WS-60 equipped car and be happy that I wasn’t needlessly tearing up roads, and that I could quickly adapt my car to the worst ice imaginable. I think that’s a far more reasonable approach than what the roadchewers of Oregon are doing.

    Time to mount some new Michelin Primacy MXV4 tires on the Fit.


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