WA drivers must get studded snow tires removed this week – or you’ll face a big fine
March 28, 2023 Updated Tue., March 28, 2023 at 8:34 p.m.
KENNEWICK – It’s that time of the year again for Washington state drivers: people with studded tires on their vehicle must replace them with regular tires by Saturday.
The last day to make the switch, which protects Washington state roads from damage, is Friday. If you don’t replace your tires by then, you could be fined $137.
Studded tires are driven in harsh winter conditions to provide extra traction against the perils of snow and ice.
Some research suggests that studded tires help drivers stop faster, and gives them more control. The winter season tires typically have small, light metal spikes staggered along the tread.
In Washington state, studded tires are legal between Nov. 1 and March 31. Outside of that, the Washington State Patrol can ticket drivers with studded tires, even visitors from out of the state.
The deadline can be extended by the state’s Department of Transportation as necessary, such as in the case of an expected off-season heavy snow or ice storm.
Studded tires can damage roads when left on longer than necessary. And drivers using studded tires in dry conditions need more distance to stop than other drivers.
“Studded tires cause between $20 million to $29 million in damage to state-owned roads in Washington each winter and also damage city and county roads,” stated James Morin, WSDOT Maintenance Operations Manager, in a press release.
“We urge motorists to explore all their traction options, including non-stud, winter-tread tires which are different from all-season tires. These tires are legal year-round and don’t damage our highways,” he said.
What tires are acceptable when it’s warm?
When temperatures get to the high 40s, professionals recommend switching out your winter tires for your regular season tires. That includes summer, all-season and all-weather tires.
Different tires have different materials, treads and optimal uses.
The best tires will depend on your car and your needs. Reach out to your auto shop to see what they recommend.
Having tire studs professionally removed generally costs under $30 per tire, but will depend on your car, tire and shop selection.
Some shops don’t offer this service – referred to as de-studding. Call the shop in advance to make sure.
De-studding isn’t widely offered because it’s not recommended on Washington roads. When the studs are removed, you’re still left with winter tires.
The material is made for colder temperatures and will wear down quicker if used when it’s warm, according to professionals at several shops.
Instead, it’s recommended you use all-season tires or switch out your winter tires, not just the studs. And once you remove the studs from tires, studs cannot be installed in the tires again.
Most Les Schwab locations offer de-studding service, while Firestone and Jiffy Lube do not.
Les Schwab said it takes two professionals about 90 minutes to two hours to de-stud one car.
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