DOT and automotive workers say you should ditch the studded tires

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The snow was a little late getting to Southcentral this year, but now that it’s here, it’s time for drivers to get down to the tire shops to get on their winter tires - if they haven't already.

A lot of people might think that studded tires are the way to go by default. However, every year, it seems that less and less people are using them. In fact, only about one in three drivers is using them according to a study from University of Alaska Anchorage in 2018. In the 70s it was around 73% of all drivers in the state.

Brandon Moore, a tire salesman at American Tire, says they still sell a decent amount of studded tires but more people are moving over to stud-less winter tires. Moore thinks they’re the best ones overall, even though they are generally more expensive than other options.

“They grab, they start, they stop, they’ve handled as well as, I would say, the best of any of the tires that I’ve been on,” Moore said.

The specific tire Moore recommends is Bridgestone Blizzaks, which can cost over $300 for a set.

When it comes between stud less and studded winter tires, Moore says that they can last longer if you take good care of them and don’t drive on them during the summer.

“After the studs wear out, the tire’s almost pointless or they ruin them for a summer tire,” he said, “If they use them like they should, they can extend the life of them and use them for a winter tire for more than two seasons.”

In that same study from UAA, researchers found that when you use studs over winter studdless tires, you only decrease your stop time by less than 20 feet when on an icy surface.

Moore said that all-weather and all-season tires are normally less expensive than both studded and winter tires, however he doesn’t have as much faith in them.

“They can handle wet and dry, just not major ice,” Moore said.

It’s no secret that studded tires cost taxpayers a lot more in the long run as well. For one, you have to pay an extra $17.50 in fees per tire according to Moore. According to Shannon McCarthy from the Department of Transportation, the state spends about $14 million a year in road repairs from studded tire damage.

“Technology has really improved over the last 20 years, and so now we have some really high-performing tires that have the bonus of not having the added deadline to take them on or off,” McCarthy said, “and of course there’s the fact that they don’t damage the roads.”

Moore gave a final piece of advice to Channel 2 reporters that many of the tire shops in town are going to be busy getting people’s winter tires on. American Tire is first come first serve he said, and so customers should try to get in there early in the day if they want to get them switched in a timely manner.

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