How to distinguish between studless tires? Signs to exchange and points to note | MOBY [モビー]

How to distinguish between studless tires?Signs to be exchanged and points to note

Every year in November and December, there is an increase in the work of replacing normal tires with studless tires. Some of the people reading this article are sure to switch to studless tires every year.

So this time I’m going to write about studless tires.

It is recommended to use studless tires in winter, as the road surface may freeze and the road may be covered with snow. Compared to normal tires, studless tires have the property of being less likely to slip even on icy roads.

Another feature is that it is soft even in cold weather and adheres well to the ground. Such a studless tire has high anti-slip performance, but it deteriorates over time like a normal tire, and if the storage method is bad, the deterioration itself will accelerate.

If you continue to use studless tires that are in very poor condition, they may slip and lead to a serious accident, which is dangerous. Therefore, this time, we will introduce how to distinguish when to replace studless tires, how to store them, and precautions when using them.

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What is the role of studless tires?

What is the role of studless tires?

Studless tires have the characteristic of being hard to slip even on frozen roads, and they play a role in driving safely on roads even in winter. There are slight differences in appearance and rubber quality from normal tires, and these differences make it difficult to slip even on snowy or icy roads.

Details will be described later, but it is very dangerous to run on normal tires on frozen roads in winter. Normal tires are many times more likely to slip than studless tires, and no matter how careful you are, if the steering wheel is taken, there is nothing you can do about it. Therefore, it is important to use studless tires in winter.

If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, the use of studless tires is a must. If snow piles up, you have to think about using tire chains.

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Winter, which coincides with the year-end and New Year holidays, is the season with the most accidents. People who do not usually drive cars, such as those who return to their parents’ homes or go on trips, will also use cars more frequently. In addition to that, the roads are icy and the road conditions are bad, so it can be said that it is the season when accidents are likely to occur.

Accidents can injure you, cause traffic jams, and annoy other drivers. In order to prevent this from happening, it is necessary to install winter-specific studless tires and drive safely.

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There are two differences between studless tires and normal tires!

There are two differences between studless tires and normal tires!

So what is the difference between studless tires and normal tires? There are two big differences.

Difference in tread pattern

The first difference is the tread pattern. The tread of a tire is the name of the surface that contacts the ground. Tires have grooves cut both vertically and horizontally. It is the part with the groove.

Groove cuts differ depending on the type of tire, and studless tires tend to have many fine horizontal cuts. Also, the vertical grooves are made deeper than normal tires, and the reason is that it is necessary to smoothly push the small amount of water on the ice out of the tires. In the case of normal tires, such performance is not necessary, so there are not many fine grooves. One of the differences is the groove pattern in the tread, that is, the tread pattern.

Tread pattern and groove depth play a very important role in keeping water out of the road. What would happen if the tire had no tread?

If there are no grooves in the tires, it will not be possible to discharge the film of water formed between the tires and the road surface, and “hydroplaning phenomenon” will occur. Have you ever felt a little floaty when driving over a deep puddle? This is because the tire is spinning on the puddle.

Tire treads have the role of pushing water on the road surface out of the tire, but if the amount of water is large or the treads of the tire are reduced and the drainage capacity is reduced, “water on the road surface > tire drainage” ability”, and a hydroplaning phenomenon occurs. In this phenomenon, the steering wheel is taken and the vehicle cannot be controlled, leading to an accident.

Hydroplaning is caused by worn tires

  • too much speed
  • Insufficient tire pressure
  • too much water on the road

It occurs even when

Losing control of your vehicle can be very dangerous. Therefore, on rainy days, it is important to check the condition of the tires and not drive too fast. Vehicle inspection requires grooves of 1.6 mm or more, but you can already understand why such a rule is established.

Although studless tires and normal tires have different tread patterns, grooves are important for both. If you have tires with worn treads, replace them immediately.

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difference in softness

Next is the difference in the softness of the rubber. Studless tires are characterized by using softer rubber than normal tires. Rubber hardens when the temperature drops.

This hardness is different from the hardness caused by deterioration. When the temperature rises, the flexibility returns, but in winter, the temperature is low even in the daytime, so the softness does not return with normal tires. However, studless tires use rubber that has a different characteristic than normal tires, which can maintain its softness even at low temperatures.

Therefore, even on hard-packed snowy roads, high grip power can be maintained. Then why is it possible to maintain the grip force when the rubber is soft? The reason is that it has good adhesion to the road surface.

Even on roads that look flat, the surface is finely uneven, and the rubber gets into the unevenness and provides grip. However, if the tire becomes hard, the rubber of the tire cannot get into the unevenness, so the friction becomes weaker. I think you can understand the theory that frictional resistance increases as the contact area increases. Because of this difference between hard rubber and soft rubber, the ease of slipping changes.

This applies not only to studless tires but also to normal tires, so it can be used as a guideline for when to replace tires.

As a guideline for judging when to replace tires,

  • groove depth
  • Presence or absence of cracks

However, even if the tread is sufficient and there are not many cracks, a tire that has been manufactured for many years will be harder than when it was new, and the grip will be reduced accordingly. You probably don’t often check the hardness of the tire, but if you want to manage the replacement timing in detail, you can say that you need to pay attention to this point as well.

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What is the change sign for studless tires?

What is the change sign for studless tires?

The replacement sign of studless tires has a strong relationship with the characteristics, and it can be said that it is time to replace the tires if the characteristics cannot be maintained. Now, let’s take a look at the specific exchange signatures.

Determined by groove depth

I think that the tread pattern and groove depth were the characteristics of studless tires. Therefore, the depth of the groove serves as a guideline for replacement. I explained that studless tires tend to have deeper grooves than normal tires. And if you judge the tread depth in the same way as a normal tire, it may be too late.

Studless tires have a replacement sign called a “platform”, which at first glance may be mistaken for a slip sign, but it is located higher than the slip sign. The slip sign is a sign that indicates 1.6mm that cannot be passed in vehicle inspection, but the platform exists only on studless tires and is usually at the height of the middle of the groove.

This sign is a sign that the function as a studless tire has deteriorated significantly. The confirmation method is the same as the slip sign, and if the groove where the platform is located is gone, it is time to replace it.

However, even if the platform is out, you can use it without throwing it away if you feel that it is a waste because it can be used as a summer tire. Many studless tires have grooves of 10 mm or more, and even if the platform is exposed, the grooves are about 5 mm, which is sufficient depth for summer use. If the winter is coming to an end and the platforms are appearing, why not just keep wearing them instead of replacing them for the summer?

Studless tires have characteristics that are specialized for winter roads, but on the other hand, there are some points to be aware of when using them in summer. Details will be discussed later, but if you follow the precautions carefully, you can still use it in the summer, so why not consider whether to throw it away or keep using it?

Determined by date of manufacture

Next is how to judge by the date of manufacture. Knowing the manufacturing date determines the hardness of the rubber. Another feature of studless tires was the softness of the rubber. It can maintain its softness even in winter, but when it deteriorates, it becomes as hard as a normal tire.

And it is said that it takes around 4 years to maintain the softness that can maintain the studless function. Of course, the deterioration speed varies depending on the storage method and usage method, but the hardening speed is the same as long as it is not used harshly.

Even if you don’t drive a lot in the winter and you have enough tread, the rubber will be stiff. If the rubber becomes hard, there is a risk of slipping, so it is important to replace it if it has been around 4 years since it was manufactured.

How can I find out the manufacturing date of a tire? The date of manufacture of the tire is indicated numerically on the sidewall of the tire. If you look closely, you can see that there is a four-digit number somewhere. You can tell by the numbers.

For example, let’s say you have the number “0218”. Divide this number down the middle.

In this case, it is divided into “02” and “18”, the first number means the week of the year, and the last number means the last two digits of the year. In other words, this tire was manufactured on the second lap of 2018.

Using this method, you can easily check the date of manufacture. And in the case of cheap tires sold online, many of them are several years old.

In order not to make a mistake such as finding out that two years have already passed since the manufacture even though you bought it, let’s remember how to check the manufacturing date.

Some may think that judging softness by date of manufacture is uncertain. Certainly, it is more reliable to use a special machine to check, but in order to check, you have to purchase special equipment or go to a tire specialty store.

It is rare for a general maintenance shop to have such equipment, and it can be said that it is not a method that can be easily checked. Therefore, if you want to accurately judge the softness, we recommend that you first check the date of manufacture, and if you judge that it is about to become hard, ask a tire specialty store to measure the hardness.

Studless tires are used to prevent slipping on hard-packed snow or icy roads. In other words, no matter how much you use studless tires, it is meaningless if their functions are degraded. And despite the deterioration of the studless function, the possibility of causing an accident increases if you continue to use it.

In that case, it can be said that there is no point in wearing studless tires. In order to prevent accidents, it is important to replace the parts at the appropriate time, instead of using them forever even though the replacement sign is displayed.

Precautions when using studless tires!

Precautions when using studless tires!

Studless tires are not universal tires that can be used in any situation. If you use it at the right time, you can maximize its performance, but if you use it in the summer, it will not be able to demonstrate its function to the maximum, and it may be more dangerous than normal tires.

So, here are some things to keep in mind when using studless tires.

Do not use in summer

There are people who often use studless tires all year round, but I do not recommend this method. The reason is that studless tires are softer than normal tires.

Studless tires can maintain softness even at low temperatures, but on the other hand, they tend to be weak against heat. It can be used, but running on hot asphalt accelerates tread loss more than normal tires. Also, the performance of rubber tends to deteriorate, and it tends to become harder than tires that are only used in winter.

Therefore, refrain from using it in the summer while the studless function is high.

However, as I have said many times, it is okay to use studless tires in the summer, which are not suitable for use in the winter, as the studless function is greatly reduced. Although the tread tends to decrease and it tends to harden, if it was only used in winter, it would have to be thrown away, so it may be possible to use it in a slightly worse environment.

In addition, studless tires have deeper grooves than normal tires, and because they are made softer, even if the grooves tend to decrease or become harder, there is no problem with normal tires.

If you plan to use it as a studless tire, you should avoid using it in the summer as much as possible to extend the life of the tire.

It is also characterized by being easy to slip on rainy days

If you are using studless tires, you must be very careful when driving in the rain. The disadvantage of studless tires is that they tend to slip on rainy days.

The reason for this is that although the discharge capacity of a small amount of water is high, when there is a lot of water on the road surface, the discharge capacity is inferior to that of normal tires. The grooves of studless tires are fine and shallow, so they are good at discharging less water. On the other hand, if there is too much water, the tire will contain too much water and will not be able to drain.

In the cold winter, the rain turns into snow and accumulates, so there tends to be fewer rainy days. Also, after it rains, the road surface freezes and does not remain as water on the road surface. Therefore, in winter, there is no need to drain a large amount of water.

However, if you use studless tires in the summer, it may rain. If you use the brakes in the same way as normal tires, you may slip and cause an accident, so when using studless tires on rainy days, it is important not to increase the speed more than necessary and to brake early.

Summary of hydroplaning phenomenon occurrence cases, prevention measures, and countermeasures in case of occurrence

Active mechanic studlessIntroducing the time to replace the tires!

An active mechanic introduces the time to replace with studless tires!
© visoot/

The timing of switching from normal tires to studless tires and vice versa varies depending on the region. Here are the average times:

  • Normal tire → studless tire: October to November
  • Studless tires → normal tires: March to April

This is just an average time, and in warmer regions, it may be replaced in December. Also, in cold regions, it seems that there are cases where the replacement is done early because the stores that switch to studless tires are crowded.

There is no set time to switch to studless. If you live in an area where the roads do not freeze, you may not need studless tires.

The point to determine the timing is whether there is a possibility of slipping after hearing that the road is frozen in an area that is a little colder than where you live, or if the snow mark appears in the weekly weather forecast. Just do it.

However, if you are too late, you will have to run on normal tires on slippery roads, so if you are worried about it, we recommend replacing them as soon as possible. It can be said that accidents due to carelessness are likely to occur during the changing seasons, such as from autumn to winter and from winter to spring.

In order to avoid situations such as slipping and causing an accident if you continue to drive as it is, it is important to manage the timing of switching to studless tires and drive safely. .

What is the difference between all-season tires and studless tires? Can I run on snowy roads and areas where winter tires are restricted?

The replacement cost is 3000 yen to 5000 yen.

The market price for replacing tires is about 3000 yen to 5000 yen. This amount is a dealer-based market price, and there may be shops that will replace it at a lower price at private repair shops, gas stations, car shops, etc.

If you do it yourself, it’s free, but if you don’t usually touch the car because you need to jack it up, the work will be a little more difficult. Also, if it is replacement work for each wheel, there is also the use of the nuts that match the wheel and the direction of the nuts.

Large vehicles such as minivans tend to have large wheels and tires because they must support heavy vehicles. Just lifting the wheel is hard work and may hurt your back. Therefore, if you are not confident, let’s ask the dealer or the repair shop.

Replacing tires will cost more.

Replacing tires refers to the method of replacing each wheel, but in the case of replacing tires alone, it is a “recombination of tires” work. Recombination work is more expensive than replacement work, and it is impossible to do it yourself unless you are a mechanic or something like that.

The market price for tire modification work, which requires special equipment, is around 2,000 to 4,000 yen per tire. In other words, just replacing it with a studless tire will cost around 10,000 yen. The difference in price is due to the size of the tire, and of course there is also a difference in price depending on the shop you ask.

Since there are no wheels, it is easy to move the tires, but there is also a disadvantage that the labor cost will be higher. Tire modification work is almost the same amount of money as tire replacement work. Even at a car shop where the tire replacement fee is cheap, additional charges may be incurred if you bring it in, so be sure to check the amount in advance to avoid trouble such as asking on the day and the price being higher than expected. .

Is storage method important to use studless tires for a long time?

Is storage method important to use studless tires for a long time?
©MIA Studio/

Not limited to studless tires, if you make a mistake in how to store tires, deterioration will accelerate. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to the storage method when not in use. Pay attention to the following points when storing tires.

  • well-ventilated place
  • A place not exposed to direct sunlight

Excessive humidity will cause tires to deteriorate, and UV rays from the sun will also have a negative effect on tires. If it deteriorates, cracks will occur, and even if there are enough grooves, it may have to be discarded. Also, you need to pay attention to the storage method.

  • no vinyl
  • If you want to store the wheels together, stack them flat.
  • Reduce air pressure by half
  • If it is a single tire, place it vertically and change the direction periodically
  • Thoroughly remove dirt from tires and wheels

The reason for laying flat is to prevent the tires from deforming due to the weight of the wheels. If you think about it that way, you can see why the tires change direction regularly when they are stored alone. Also, if the tire is dirty, the tire will deteriorate, and if you leave the plastic bag on, the water will not evaporate and the humidity will always be high, so be careful.

Reduce the pressure to about half instead of keeping it full to keep the load on the tire as low as possible. If the tire remains dirty, it may deteriorate due to dirt, and the place where it is stored will also be dirty. It looks bad, so it is important to keep the tires as clean as possible.

There is also a service that stores tires

If you live alone, you may not have a place to store your tires at home. How about using a tire storage service for such a person? Tire storage services are available at tire specialty stores, car shops, gas stations, dealers, and other stores that sell tires.

The content of the service is a service for those who have both normal tires and studless tires to store the tires for the season they are not in use. Although the amount is generated, you can have it brought from the storage place when the season comes. In addition, it can be said that it is convenient because it can be replaced as it is because it is brought to a partner store.

With this method, even if you don’t have a storage space at home, you can keep two types of tires, and you won’t have to drive with normal tires in the winter, which is dangerous.

The amount varies depending on the store you use, but you can use it for around 10,000 yen per year. It can be said that it is more profitable than renting a warehouse to store tires. Another advantage is that you don’t have to worry about where to store or how to store it because a specialist will store it for you.

If you don’t have a place to store your tires at home, or if you don’t want to worry about storing them, we recommend using them.

Summary of replacement timing and storage method for studless tires (winter tires) | Explaining the optimal storage location and storage service



Studless tires are very capable tires that reduce the possibility of slipping even on icy roads. It has deeper grooves than normal tires, different tread patterns, and softer rubber.

The guideline for replacement is when the characteristics of the studless tire have faded, and even if it can no longer be used as a studless tire, it can be used in the summer. However, there are some precautions to be taken when using it in the summer or on rainy days. Therefore, unless there is a reason such as deterioration, it is necessary to use it at an appropriate time.

Studless tires are safer to drive on winter roads than normal tires, but you need to be careful when driving in the snow. Even with brand new studless tires, overconfidence can lead to accidents. In particular, entrances and exits of tunnels, curves, intersections, bridges, slopes, etc. are points where accidents are likely to occur even if you are wearing studless tires.

Anyone can get into an accident and there is no need to panic. However, let’s be conscious of not causing an accident and make sufficient preparations in advance to prevent an accident from happening.

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