Studded or not is a pre-order decision, so make the right choice up front
One would think buying snow tires is as easy as walking into your local tire store, picking out the set you want, having them mounted up and driving down the road.
Then later on, if/when winter driving conditions get worse, you can come back and have them studded. Not so.
While you can pull snow tires off the dealer’s racks, if you decide later on to have them studded, you’ll be in for a costly surprise because the law requires tires to be studded from the tire manufacturer – not put in after the tires have been mounted.
“If you want to run studded tires, they have to be ordered that way,” says Rob Benson of the Tire Factory in Eugene, Oregon. “The tires have to be brand new with the pins already installed. You don’t stud used tires.”
Benson states two reasons:
“A tire that has been driven may have debris in the pins (the little holes that accept the studs),” says Benson. This debris effectively extends the length of the stud and could push through the tire’s inner wall.”
Benson adds, “Worn tires also have less tread depth, which could cause the studs to push through, resulting in air loss.”
In short: You have to decide, studs or not at the time you buy those new snow tires.