Studded or Studless: Choosing Winter Tires for Your Vehicle

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When you wake up in the morning, temperatures are already dipping into the 30s around in the Des Moines area. And it won’t be long before those temperatures drop even lower and turn passing weather systems into snow and ice storms.

When winter weather does arrive, the best place to be is indoors where it’s warm and safe. But if you’ve got to be on the road, studded or studless tires for your car will help you handle driving conditions that may include, snow, ice, slush, and excess water. But is there a difference between studded tires and studless tires?

winter driving tires des moines iowaStudded Tires
They’re legal to drive with on Iowa roads from November 1 through April 1. But they’re illegal in some states, and states that do allow studded tires have set their own dates for when they can be used on the roads.

Studded tires have tiny metal studs in the tread of the tire that help grip the road and provide traction, even when it’s icy or you’re driving on snow-packed roads. Instead of struggling to chain-up on a wintery day, studded tires make it easier to get in your car and drive in winter weather.

However, the studs are strong enough to damage pavement when the roads are clear, and that’s a major reason some states have banned studded tires. Studded tires are allowed in Iowa. But surrounding states including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois have all banned the use of studded tires. If you’re from Iowa and just passing through, you can still drive your car with studded tires in these states during the winter season. Iowa’s other border states, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota allow studded tires for winter driving.

While studded tires are highly effective for winter driving, they’re also criticized for being too noise when used on dry roads.

Studless Tires
In Iowa where studded tires are legal, some people still opt for studless tires because they’re more environmentally friendly and aren’t as noisy. But in terms of performance, studless tires may perform as well as studded tires based on rubber compounds and engineering practices used to design them.

Studless tires are made with a type of rubber that doesn’t become brittle or hard when temperatures reach the freezing point or colder. This helps the tire remain flexible and improves traction on snow, ice, and wet roadways. Most studless tires also have deeper tread, compared to typical all-season tires, which helps improve traction.

Because studded tires are legal in Iowa, you’ve got the option of going with studded or studless tires on your car. Both will help your car handle better during winter driving conditions. But it’s better to get snow tires on your car early in the season, before the first big winter storm arrives.