If you’ve ever lived somewhere with tough winters, you’re probably familiar with studded tires. If you’ve grown up in the DC area, you may not be so familiar with them. Let’s examine how studded tires work, and whether or not you can use them in your area.
What are studded tires?
For starters, studded tires are always winter tires, which are specially designed to offer superior grip and traction during cold, winter weather. (Click here to learn more about how winter tires work.) Studs themselves are small pieces of metal (or sometimes hard rubber) that are embedded in the rubber, which offer additional grip in snow and ice. Some winter tires have them and some don’t, and some are made with the option of adding studs in after you purchase them. So, if studs help with winter traction, why aren’t they automatically included in all tires? Studs are tough on roads, and can actually cause damage and tear up the asphalt. Many states have laws completely prohibiting the use of studded tires (like warmer states that rarely see snow), while others stipulate certain times of the year that they’re allowed (like when they’re most likely to be useful) or which kind you can use (metal or rubber), thus limiting potential road damage.
Are they allowed in your area?
Let’s examine the laws for the DC metro area to determine the laws where you live (according to The Rubber Manufacturer’s Association):
- Washington DC – Not permitted at any point throughout the year. Sorry, DC residents!
- Virginia – Permitted October 15 – April 15 (metal and rubber).
- Maryland – Permitted November 1 – March 31 (metal and rubber) BUT only in certain locations: they are allowed in western counties (Allegheny, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington counties).
As you can see, the laws can vary quite a bit, even in areas close to each other. It’s very important to be cognizant of the laws where you live if you’re thinking about using studded tires on your vehicle during winter months. Keep in mind that you’ll have to either 1. Have an extra set of studded tires that you can put on and take off your vehicle when the time is right, or 2. Have them permanently installed on a vehicle that only gets driven during the permitted time frames in the winter. And be careful if you are a VA or MD resident with studded tires – no driving in DC or prohibited MD counties without the risk of a ticket!
At Wiygul Automotive Clinic, we know how fickle weather in the DC region can be (hot one day and snowing the next)! If you’re considering a set of seasonal tires for your vehicle, our tire experts would be happy to discuss your options and get you a tire that’s ideal for your needs. Stop in to any of our convenient locations today and see just how perfect your tires can be!