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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


More local drivers shun studs

During my travels this winter, I still hear the unmistakable clatter of studded tires grinding our streets away.  But thankfully, I am hearing that sound less and less.

That’s because drivers here are shunning studded tire use in increasing numbers.  Tire shop owners have told me it is so, and anecdotal evidence from emails I’ve received suggests it as well.  My recent column on the studded tire topic generated opponent versus proponent reader feedback at a ratio of 7 to 1 (14 against and 2 for).

Many consumers are now open to stud alternatives, given the notable performance improvements of non-studded winter tires and all-season tires.  With new rubber compounds and tread designs that incorporate factory siping (small slits running perpendicular to tread line) the traction gap (even on ice) is dwindling for studs.

Due to those factors, coupled with the inferior grip of studded tires on the wet and dry pavement we drive upon about 98 percent of the time in winter, more and more drivers are giving up the asphalt grinders.

Here are some reader comments on the subject:

From D.P., “I live on Greenridge road, 800 feet up from Liberty Lake.  I drive up and down all the time and when conditions are such and the plow/sander has not come, I simply drive slowly.  I am keenly aware that there are only four little patches of rubber on which my car rides the adhesion under which are constantly changing underneath me, and that it is dangerous to risk loss of traction.

Finally I decided against studs five or more years ago after talking to an on duty highway patrolman who told me that they used studless tires.”

From M.D., “I put studded tires on my car once about twenty some years ago, took them off in the Spring and never put studs on again.  I have a VW Sportswagon with front wheel drive and I have Continental Pro Contact winter tires on it.  I live in Northwood so I drive up and down steep hills every day, no problem.  I am also 75 years old and have not had an accident.  So far, so good.   I think the real test of winter weather is how one drives in the snow or on ice.  The first rule I learned is never touch the brake while on slick snow black ice or any ice.  Don’t start like a jack rabbit and use some courtesy and common sense.  I’d like to see the end of studs and they are ruining our roads we all have to pay for that.”

From S.N., “Own a front wheel drive 1998 Monte Carlo and bought a set of four studded tires that first winter.  Costs me nothing to swap tires each season, but haven’t used them in about five years.
The first time it was just a gamble, seeing how I could do with my regular tires.  Even those two years when we had six feet of snow, things were fine and the tires now sit in my garage in their yellow Les Schwab bags, unused for years.
Studs are good for certain conditions, like my alley and the three to four blocks until I reach an arterial. But once you reach a major road that is plowed and maintained, they don’t help at all.
One thing nobody mentions is gas mileage. I went from about 24 mpg to about 18 mpg when using the studded tires, so not only do they contribute to road wear, don’t really help with traction, they also are a waste of fuel.”

Those are some real-world accounts of why the tire shops are no longer as packed on the deadline day for studded tire removal.  As I’ve stated before, drivers should choose tires that give them confidence on the roads they travel during winter, and for now, studded tires are still among those choices.  Nevertheless, it’s evident that many drivers are opting out of studs and taking advantage of improved winter tire technology.

States continue to consider studded tire bans, but given the current consumer trend, that may not be necessary.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at