Studded snow tires for winter roadtrips?

bloc

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Hello all,
I'm in the middle of a 4000 mile road trip from Austin Texas, through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and back home, on fairly worn mxv4s with a couple pairs of chains in the back. This trip will happen every year for the forseeable future, and the main goal is snowboarding, which means even if I try and avoid the weather on the interstates, the ski hill can often present a problem.

So far I've had to install my chains 4 times, and probably really should have a handful more. The availability of some free spare rims at home has me thinking about investing in a set of studdable snow tires, then throwing them on for the trip each year. I have a few questions for the guys with more experience though..

Will the ~1000 miles of dry, potentially 60-70 degree weather before I get to the mountains kill these things before I get to use them in snow?
Will the studs even still be there after 20 hours of 70mph freeway driving?
Should I look at studless instead?
How much will they impact mileage?
Any other thoughts?

Thanks for any insight
 

Zedbra

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Studs are best on hard snowpack or ice. Yes, they will be there from driving 70mph. I use studded snowies on my truck, which I transport my children in. The way I see it, though the studs are noisy and annoying all those times I don't need them, they are worth every penny the few times you do need them (like chains).
 

993cc

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Studded tires have better grip on ice, but on other surfaces their advantages are negligible or worse. Especially on bare or wet pavement, you'll be better off with regular snows.

A tire like Nokian's WRG2 or WRG3 offers a very good compromise between traction in cold/snowy weather while still giving decent wear on warm roads.

Alternately, you could get a set of less expensive snow tires, (General Altimax Arctic are well liked at Tdi Club) and just accept that they will wear fast.

Keep your chains for when it gets icy or the snow gets deep.

Hope this is useful to you.
 
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TDI in MT

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The studs will survive just fine for an entire winter, probably two or three. But you already have the absolute best way to get traction in winter - chains. Therefore, I wouldn't bother with studs.

Studded tires sound like you're driving on broken glass when you're on dry pavement at around-town speeds.
 

VeeDubTDI

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I'll second that. Go with a set of good non-studded snow tires and use the chains for when it's too much for the snow tires.
 

bloc

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I had about 2 hours of white knuckle driving in Wyoming where studs would have made it a non-issue. Seemed like country roads that don't get plowed much, so the snow packed down, melted slightly from the sun, then froze solid. To be honest I'm surprised my current tires did as well as they did.. But I was chewing holes in my seat cushion. With chains it would have been 3+ hours..

I can deal with something like altimaxes wearing out relatively quickly.. Considering the fact that they wont get used unless im on these trips.. But how much would the extended dry use impact that? Would I only get one of these big trips out of them?
 
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993cc

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I can deal with something like altimaxes wearing out relatively quickly.. Considering the fact that they wont get used unless im on these trips.. But how much would the extended dry use impact that? Would I only get one of these big trips out of them?
Winter tires are made of softer rubber, so won't go as far as all seasons, even if they are used primarily in the cold. Note that this applies equally to studded or non studded tires. Still, I routinely get 20,000 miles out of a set. I would think even with a large part of your driving being in relatively warm weather, you'd still get four 4000 mile round trips out of them. Take special care to drive them gently in Texas.
 
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bloc

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I would literally bolt them on immediately before driving out of town, so the only significant non-cold use they would get would be freeway. Even then, it shouldn't be more than about 70 degrees ambient for a few hours.

Are studded tires very noisy at freeway speeds? Or is that primarily at lower speeds? I don't mind some sound, but if it means 20 hours of unmanageable drone I'll go studless. Otherwise I like the idea of a tire that can handle the broader range of winter weather..
 

Wankel7

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I think snow tires would be your best bet. I don't see why you would need studded tires since maybe 1/4 of your trip will be in snow if that.

Also, can you buy snow tires in Austin? If you are hatching this idea on the road it might be a good idea to buy them before you go home. Unless you buy them online.
 

fruitcakesa

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I would literally bolt them on immediately before driving out of town, so the only significant non-cold use they would get would be freeway. Even then, it shouldn't be more than about 70 degrees ambient for a few hours.
Are studded tires very noisy at freeway speeds? Or is that primarily at lower speeds? I don't mind some sound, but if it means 20 hours of unmanageable drone I'll go studless. Otherwise I like the idea of a tire that can handle the broader range of winter weather..
We have Nokia Studded on the 02 wagon and General Altimax Arctics on the 03 Sedan.
On other than real icy conditions the Generals are more than adequate and much quieter and well behaved on dry pavement.
We have done long trips with the studs also but it definitely is a very noisy tire.
I second the non-studded snow choice with chains for backup.
 

CrazyWJ242

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Studded tires will be much louder on the highways, noise increases with the speed... some states/provinces have rules on studded tires so all of that has to be taken into consideration while road tripping...

i've made a 1600 mile round trip on pare pave with studs on, and never noticed any excessive tread-ware then again i purchased a harder rubber stud-able winter tire Hankook W409... a directional tread keeps it tracking straight down the road offers alot of grip, awesome tires if your putting some miles on during the winter months (i put on atleast 80k km a year... 50k miles)

I have made a trip thru the exact same area (nearly across the entire country this time) in the winter with All seasons on the car and wouldn't recommend it, white knuckle quite a bit...

and in the same breath i've got a set of Goodyear Nordic non studded tires, the soft rubber gives a ton of grip, are ultra quiet in comparison to my Hankooks, and i cant get over just how much grip they provide... ofcourse their Goodyears, they will likely be good, for a year... haven't had them long enough to tell on tread-wear yet

so what im trying to say... unless you will constantly be running on hard packed snow roads, or in areas that might have alot of freezing rain, the studs are not quite necessary... and a good studless winter tire with softer rubber will work great for you
 

Mcgink

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Why not start out with a Stud-able winter tire. If you find the studs are needed, you can ad them after. I'm amazed at how much better decent snowtires improve snowy driving. It's like night and day IMO
 

Zedbra

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Why not start out with a Stud-able winter tire. If you find the studs are needed, you can ad them after. I'm amazed at how much better decent snowtires improve snowy driving. It's like night and day IMO
Technically, you can't add studs after you have driven on the tires. A good shop will refuse to do it for you if the tires are used. The rubber gets stretched, the stud holes get dirt in them, so they tend to not want to seat properly and rip the tires up.

OP - try a set of studded tires and if you don't like the noise, then sell them and replace with regular snow tires. I think you will find the noise isn't that bad and as I said before, it is better to have them when needed then not having them.

I never was impressed with the Nokian WRG2 tires - I found they were only mediocre in the deep snow and less than impressive on ice. However, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta tires are amazing. I have found that Hankook Ipikes have been a great winter traction tires for the value.
 

ScottySK

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I have Hakkapeliitta 7 Studded on my van, great tires and they're only noisy driving 50-60km/h on dry pavement. I've used 4 sets of studded winters and the pluses have always outweighed the minuses. I have also used the Hankook IPike W409 tires and found them to be great in slush and fresh snow, but medicore on packed snow and ice. I think if I'd have studded them they would have been a great budget tire.
 

Zedbra

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I have Hakkapeliitta 7 Studded on my van, great tires and they're only noisy driving 50-60km/h on dry pavement. I've used 4 sets of studded winters and the pluses have always outweighed the minuses. I have also used the Hankook IPike W409 tires and found them to be great in slush and fresh snow, but medicore on packed snow and ice. I think if I'd have studded them they would have been a great budget tire.
I have IPike W409s on my car and right now and IPike RW07 studded on my truck. I have been impressed with the performance of both sets. In fact, I am leaving here in a few hours for a 5 hour drive up over the Coquihalla (where they film the Discovery show Highway Thru Hell), trying to leave before a freezing rain storm comes in tonight. I want to take my car, but my wife wants me to take the truck with the studded snowies. Probably the better choice, they have been solid on the same drive before and saved my b utt a couple times on ice and hard pack.
 
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Mcgink

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Technically, you can't add studs after you have driven on the tires. A good shop will refuse to do it for you if the tires are used.
I did not know that. Guess you Do learn something new every day. So maybe another question about the studs. Can they be removed from the tire without damaging the tire? I ask because I'm considering a pair of studded tires on CL for a RWD Lincoln. Don't think I need/want studs but wouldn't want to ruin them by trying to take the studs out. TIA
 

CrazyWJ242

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you can take out the studs in a few hours with a flat head screw driver, or needle nose pliers... whatever you find works best... (i prefer a narrow flat screwdriver)

you just stick it in, wiggle past the base of the stud, and then flick it out... nice and easy

you'd have to hammer down to puncture the tire...
 
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bloc

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Thanks for all of the good input. I'm thinking studded tires, just to cover all conditions. if it weren't for the fact that I've had to drive over three hundred miles in what probably should be considered chain conditions, the studs seem like a better option. That would take forever with chains, not to mention be extremely noisy and rough on the suspension & chains.

I can't find snow tires in austin, and don't have room to drag them back with me. Tire rack will probably be the route I go.. They only show Goodyear, Firestone, and pirelli in my mkiv size. I understand there are great tires from other manufacturers, so I have some research to do. I also understand a narrower tire works better in the winter, so I'll be exploring that a little as well. So far no joy in 185/70 or 75 on tire rack.
 

ScottySK

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Hard time of year to be buying as stock is pretty low, I just went through the same with the van.

Skinnier is better in deep snow/slush but not on ice/hard pack. I'd stick with the stock size if you can find it.

Obviously studded reduces the available options. General Altimax Arctic (old Gislaved Nordfrost) is another good one.
 
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NB_TDi

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I've drive a 1200KM trip several times in the winter. I'm on year 5 with my winters. Studs are still in good shape.

You won't be seeing sparks or chunks of rubber flying around when you drive. Drive more, worry less.
 

Stealth TDI

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Check to ensure studded tires are legal all along your route. I know they're illegal in DC, the main reason I didn't buy any while I was stationed nearby.
 

MTjake

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Don't buy studded tires. Buy the Nokian Hakkapelliita R2 in the narrowest aspect ratio that fits your car. Put them on right before your snowboard trip and take them off when you get back. It would be best to get another set of wheels for them. They should last you at least 4 seasons and probably more if you don't drive too many miles on warm pavement.
 

20IndigoBlue02

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Texas prohibit studded tires, where you start and end your trip. Given the location of Austin.... probably not a good idea to risk it. If you loved close to the border to NM or OK, you can probably get away with it.

So... get yourself a set of non-studded tires on an extra set of wheels and a set of chains. Thule chains aren't that bad, they are pricey, and the pricier ones are self adjusting & tensioning.

for 195/65r15...
General Altimax Arctic is a solid choice... will be very squirmy when you start and end your trip.

Maybe a performance winter tire? The H-speed rating will be fine in the warmer part of the trip, and when you hit the chain control areas... it's not going to matter about the loss of traction capabilities compared to Altimax Arctic, Xice, Blizzaks, Hakka R2, etc.

OPtion 3... Nokian WR G3. All-season tire with the mountain-snowflake compound.

I would also recommend (if you don't yet), getting a cargo box. Put skis, poles, snowboards, boots, etc... up there and not totally kill your mpg.
 

y2kbird

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I agree with the posters who advocate going studless. I recall reading that one state (Colorado or Wyoming) changed their laws to finally catch up with the tire company improvements. Now areas that required chains or 4 wheel drive vehicles only allow studless snow tires.

blizzak ws70's are worth considering. before I put them on I was driving white-knuckled during snow/ice storms--car would fishtail all the time. that combined with the visibility loss from blustering snow kicked up by semi trucks made it scary to drive.

They wear perfect, are quiet, and get super mileage. In fact, driving 2k per month 4 months a year, I get 2-4 years per set of blizzaks before they are half worn out (super ice compound is gone so it's at the first set of wear sensors). Then I sell them on craigslist for half of what a new set costs me :) Running them on dry pavement at temperatures over 50 degrees is what causes them to wear.

Costco routinely has a $70 off sale; I think they quoted me a set of 4 blizzaks 195/65/15 WS-70 with lifetime balance/road hazard/rotation for $300 plus tax. this is for my Mk4 jetta.

Also, unlike their normal tire policy, costco WILL install snow tires that are down-rated one speed level. which is good sine I don't drive 129mph in the winter.
 

NB_TDi

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Hm

Interesting video from TireRack. Not sure if I agree with their statement about how studded tires are made from 1960s compounds. I can't believe that Nokian would make their Hakkapeliitta 7 from a old compound formula while their non-studded ones would be made from newer compounds.

 

20IndigoBlue02

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Winterforce studded tire.... Tirerack set the bar very low. iirc, this was before General introduced the Altimax Arctic (Continental introduced the Gisalved Nord Frost 3 to the US market).....

If Tirerack went out about bought a comparable Nokian Hakkapeliitta studded (from the factory) tire, their conclusions would be different.... iirc, it would be the 5.... where Nokian spends as much effort upgrading their studless tires as they do their studdable/studded tires.

So.. Tirerack's comparison was flawed, thus the results are flawed.
 

toastyjosh

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I have the I- pikes. I found them used on CL on a spare set. Night and day difference.
Buy a pair of studless put them on a spare set and call it good.
 
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