Whatever happened to …

… studded winter tires?

I was actually going to talk about snow tire commercials as they used to be everywhere this time of year but I haven’t seen a single one. However, the local tire place had a radio commercial so I had to refine into something better for this Sunday.

Growing up in the snow belt, it really was a thing. Dad would get them put on for the winter to get through the piles and piles of snow that we would get. Back then, everything was rear drive so any little bit helped. There did come a time when they got banned and a good snow tire became necessary. Even that has evolved.

At the time, I had a pickup truck which made things even more difficult for getting traction. I ended up putting bags of chicken grit in the back for the extra weight. They did weigh things down and were also awesome for providing traction if I ever needed.

If you’re the type of person that buys salt for your driveway, you might want to consider chicken grit. It doesn’t melt and doesn’t leave marks.

Driving without studded tires was noticeably different. I understand the logic of them causing wear and tear on the roads and the reason to ban them. It would only take one commuting session to rip up the road in front of our place.

Snow really isn’t a problem if you are intelligent about it. Here’s a favourite picture of mine with friend Kerry Withrow helping dig out my car after a big snowfall at a Western RCAC Conference in London with our keynote speaker, David Pogue. We had to get him back to the airport!

A few years ago, we had an #ECOOCamp in Owen Sound and Highway 4 was closed in spots but if you knew the backroads and drove carefully, you could get home without problems other than white knuckles. No studded or snow tires needed here.

I can only remember one serious issue – as a teenager a friend of mine and I tried to turn around in a farmer’s front yard except the area we chose was a pond and the ice didn’t hold us. Fortunately, the farmer had a tractor and a chain and we were out in no time.

Studded or snow tires wouldn’t have saved the day there.

These days, we’ve invested in good all-weather tires and we’re good to go. We don’t get nearly the snow that we did in Huron and Middlesex counties. I know that others swap out to actual snow tires for the winter. Our local tire company will store your tires somewhere should you decide to make the switch.

For a Sunday, what are your thoughts?

  • can you remember driving with studded tires?
  • it is still legal in Ontario to drive with studded tires at a particular time of year? Do you know where and when?
  • if you’re from a location other than Ontario, are studded tires legal in your location?
  • where do you keep them when you’re not using them?
  • what’s the difference between all-season and all-weather tires?
  • do you switch to snow tires for the winter? Where do you store them when not using them?
  • there is an alternative to studded tires and you can buy them at Canadian Tire. What am I talking about?
  • snow tires are really making a recovery when all-* tires were marketed as the ultimate solution. Do they make that much difference or is this just another marketing scheme?
  • what about modern car design make all-* tires so much more effective?
  • am I jinxing us by talking snow tires in November?

Jinxed or not, I’d still like to hear your thoughts about studded tires and driving in the winter. Please share your wisdom in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning feature around here. All the back posts are available here. I’m always looking for ideas for this post. Please reach out if you have one.

Join the Conversation

  1. Yes, I remember Dad and later myself having our studded tires put on for the winter. Winters in Niagara were much colder back then and you could build a skating rink in your backyard in late November and continue skating on it until early March. You sure can’t do that today. In the area in which I now live, if you want to drive into the mountains where the skiing is, you have to chain-up. Since I’m too old to ski these days, there is no use for chains for my wife and me.

  2. I really like the way this text is written. I am an amateur writer for myself and I’m glad I came across this post! 🙂

  3. The main difference between and actual snow tire and an all-season/weather tire is that the rubber compound in a snow tire is softer and designed to maintain it’s traction abilities below 5 degrees centigrade. All-season/weather tires have a more aggressive tread pattern than a summer tire, but anyone living in the snow belt that had left the change to winter tires too late, can easily tell the difference, especially when attempting to make it up a steep grade on a snow covered road.


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