Studded snow tires literally have metal studs embedded within the tread. These small, strong pieces of metal are designed to dig into ice, which provides added traction. When the driving surface isn’t covered in ice, studded tires can damage the road.

The use of studded tires is said to cost taxpayers millions of dollars in road wear every year. Additionally, as studded tires chip into the concrete, they eventually cut ruts in the road that will fill with water to create a hydroplaning hazard when it rains. This has prompted states to prohibit studded winter tires completely or restrict them to seasonal use. Check with local law enforcement officials to confirm restrictions in your area.

Stud Insertion

Tire studs consist of two primary parts. The tungsten carbide pin is the element that protrudes beyond the tire tread and contacts the pavement surface. The outside part of the stud is a cylindrical metal jacket or body that is held in the tire tread rubber by a flange at the base.

Typically 80 to 100 studs per tire are inserted into holes molded in the tire’s tread design. A special tool spreads the rubber and inserts the stud.

This illustration shows a stud hole molded into the tread when manufactured, as well as studs properly installed, inserted too shallow or too deep.

Stud Insert Diagram

All-season tires are built to handle a variety of road conditions – dry roads, wet roads, and in many cases, light snow. The tread compound of all season tires can harden in low temperatures, so there’s less traction between the road and your tires.

Winter tires are built specifically to perform in winter conditions like low temperatures, ice, slush, and snow.  Winter tires use special rubber compounds that stay pliable in the cold, giving them better grip and improved braking, even in extreme conditions.

What Does Tire Quality Matter if My Vehicle Has AWD or 4WD?

It matters! All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive improve traction by sending power to all four wheels when you accelerate (instead of just two wheels, as in front- or rear-wheel drive). But 4WD or AWD doesn’t help at all once you put on the brakes. Winter tires improve traction whether you’re accelerating, turning, or braking.

What Does the Symbol “Mountain / Snowflake” Mean on Winter Tires Sidewall?

A sidewall mark of M+S (or M/S, M&S, MS) means that you have an all-season tire that has been approved for use in mud and snow by the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association (RMA). These tires will provide traction in light snow, but we wouldn’t want to be caught in a blizzard with a set of M+S tires.

The mountain/snowflake symbol (shown here) on the sidewall means that a tire has been approved for “severe snow service” by the RMA. These tires are tested to be sure they meet the RMA’s standards for snow traction.

Largest Tire Selection

Get New Tires Fast & Easy

Because we have an extensive inventory of more than 4,000 tires in stock, our unparalleled tire selection assures you that we will have the replacement tire for your car or truck. Featuring tires from MICHELIN®, BFGoodrich® and Uniroyal®, Sierra Car Care and MST Tire Centers also carry tires from manufacturers such as GT RADIALS, Bridgestone, Continental, Cooper, General, Goodyear, Hankook, Pirelli and Yokohama. We have passenger and performance tires as well as studded, winter and all-season tires.

At MST Tire Center, our tire experts are able to match your specific driving needs, including factors such as driving terrain, endurance and travel conditions, resulting in the best possible match for your vehicle. You may also shop from home via the online tire finder by inputting your vehicle’s make, model and year.

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