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Studded Snow Tires

13020 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Brabus
I have four Brabus 15" rims with the stock tire size of 175/55/15 that I plan to mount studded snow tires. (FWIW, these Brabus 15" fronts are the same exact size as Passion rear rims).

Doing some online googling it seems the Smart will have to go with a wider tire since there are no 175 wide studded snow tires but there are many options for 185 wide (thanks to mini cooper, etc.).

There are 4 tires that I have found available and I'll put them in the list of what I believe to be best to good.

1. Nokian Hakkapeliitta 5 (185/55/15) ~$150 to $170/ea with square studs...the 60 profile is about 10% less than the 55 profile
2. Hankook W409 i-Pike (185/55/15) ~$109

Next is 185/60R15

3. Nokian Nordman 2 (185/60/15) $??
4. Firestone WinterForce (185/60/15) $73/ea ($58 tire + $15/ea for studs)

TireRack has one studded tire in 185/60/15 at an exceptionally inexpensive price. I like the look of the aggressive tire tread design and 3 million miles of positive reviews, however I'd prefer to stick with 55 high, if possible. This is the Firestone WinterForce 185/60/15 for $58/each $15/ea for #12 round studding.

Then there's the tire that I have had on another vehicle of mine for several years so I'm familiar with the studded tire. The Hankook W409 iPikes has the 185/55/15 studded as well. which it says $109/each but the local tire place here probably can get them for less. I paid $99 for a 225/60/16 a few years ago, so I'll have to check with my local dealer and see what a more realistic price is on this smaller 185/55/15. This tire is compared to the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 4 (which is more than double the price and well while the Hankook has a similar tread design as the Nokian, the technology of the Nokian is far superior).

Nokian has 2 studded snow tires:

Then the all-new Nokian Hakkapeliitta 5 in 185/55/15. This 5 is the first tire to use 4 different kinds of rubber compounds. Like the 4, the 5 uses the square studs (instead of the round studs of every other studded tire)... This really is the best studded snow tire you can get for practically any vehicle.

and finally the Nordman 2 (which is a moderate priced Nokian studded) and only in the larger 185/60/15 size. I can't imagine price wise it would be worth getting the Nordman 2 over the much cheaper Firestone WinterForce.

P.S. Hopefully this will be helpful to someone who wanted studded snow tires for their Smart. If you find a studded snow tire in Smart size then please let me know. To avoid conversation as to whether studded/studless or the obvious narrower tires are better snow tire configurations, I'll save you time by saying I just want to hear the hum of the studded tires during winter and I want to keep to the Brabus look during the winter using four 15" Brabus wheels. I don't want steal rims, I don't want studless and I don't want 4.5" wide wheels.

The biggest downside to studded snow tires to me is they look too truck tire like, (User: Joey D has a picture of a mini with the Hankooks here: ) but I've had quite a bit of utility out of Hankook W409 i-pikes on my VW that I just won't go back to studless.
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thanks for all the info on studs (tires that is). I just want to make a very short remark somewhat related. I was in a Kohls (store) parking lot the other night waiting for my wife. All of sudden I could hear this crunching noise getting louder and closer. A person was looking for a parking spot and had studs on all four corners of her Cavalier. Maybe they were brand new but the noise could be heard from 4 rows over. Crunch, crunch, crunch as she went up and down the rows looking for that prized space. It was like running over bubble paper but with crunch/crack vs. pops.

Obviously I don't know what it sounded like inside her car, but for once I was hoping someone with a loud radio with lots of base would come into the parking lot to drown out the studs making my spine crawl.:urp::jawdrop::urp:
I can't say I've ever heard studded tires as loud as an amplified audio system. They do have weird sounds when driving at low speeds such as parking lots and you do get people notice you are coming though with my Hankooks i-Pikes my head lamps shine farther than the sound waves, you'll get people noticing you more when you are right up on them.

There's a much different sound when driving above 15mph. I live on a 25mph road and when studded vehicles come by I don't really hear them coming any louder than any other car but can hear the sound of the studs as they pass, i.e. it's more of a different sound than something loud like a amplified sound system which you can hear a block or so away. I have a lot of taxi-cabs pass my house and nearly all cabs have them installed during the winter months. At highway speeds there is a hum in the cabin. I can't really say the sound is as bad as you make it sound. Pun intended. Plus studded tires are for just a season. :D
Appears the Nokian Hakka 5 tires with the square studs come factory studded because they can't be studded by anyone else but the factory due to the nature of their design. You can buy the tire with studs or without studs (you can't stud a studless Hakka 5 tires). So in other words, don't buy the discounted Hakka 5s on ebay that are studless since they can't be studded.

I'm going with either185/60R15 or 185/65R15 since they are less expensive, easier to find than rare 185/55R15. The added height is a plus for snow clearance. They'll look like truck tires but I'm okay with that trade-off.
Studded tires were outlawed in Minnesota quite a while ago. Seems they chewed up the roads too much back then. Now they charge an extra fee if your snowmobile has 'traction control aides' and ban you from riding on paved trails (even though they are buried in snow)

The'd rather dump salt on the roads and chew them up chemically, and melt the body off cars.
Studded tires were outlawed in Minnesota quite a while ago. Seems they chewed up the roads too much back then. Now they charge an extra fee if your snowmobile has 'traction control aides' and ban you from riding on paved trails (even though they are buried in snow)

The'd rather dump salt on the roads and chew them up chemically, and melt the body off cars.
Or we could ban snow plows and make studs a requirement. jk I believe there are 3 or 4 northern states that ban studs. IL, MN, WI and parts of MD. :rolleyes: Then there are 5 or 6 southern states including Hawaii (haha). Most states have seasonal time limits for having them on...I think only 6 or so states don't have any restrictions.

I decided to go with the closeout Blizzaks LM-18s for my Passion and I'll just keep the Brabus garaged this winter. The LM-18s really look like mediocre snow tires, i.e. just siping done on a A/S but people here say they are good, so I'll know soon enough whether they're worth the $253 shipped with tax from TireRack.

I'll get the Hakka 5 studs next year which will cost more than twice as much as these LM-18s. Tis the economy to be frugal. :p I'll be selling the passion next year.
In Switzerland, studs equipped cars can be used on mountain roads for the season only, have to obey strict speed limits, wear a special sticker besides the rear license plates and their owners has to pay extra fees for road rehabilitation. Experience, I suppose...
The same situation has existed in Ontario for a number of decades now also because of the way studs deteriorate roads. I think they're legal only in remote areas during certain times.

By the way - studs reduce bare road traction, and that, for most areas and times, is the most common condition. Studs are also only really beneficial on ice. Modern snow tires provide more traction on ice now than they have previously as well. Good snows coupled with traction control, and on vehicles that have 4 WD, are amazing. I have a pickup with 4 WD and traction control that with the snows can stop on a hill covered in shear ice, then start off again up hill with no problem at all. I tested this out one time and after stopping and not realizing how slippery it was, stepped out of the truck only to fall because of the extreme slippery road. Walking on that ice covered hill was very difficult. The truck had no problem dealing with it though. I attribute most of that to the excellent traction from the snow tires.

Studded Tire Information
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Ohio has a stud law of Nov. 1 to april 15th. Not sure what the ticket would be if You used studds out of season. I was told the smart is too light to use studds. They would work in the Ice and snow, But, on dry pavement they would be slippery.
According to that link, it says the cost of wear from studs per state is around $10 million. Most American health insurance lifetime caps are between $1 million and $5 million per human life, so putting a human life in those numbers alone then I guess the studs would have to save 2 to 10 lives per state. :p

Ohio has a stud law of Nov. 1 to april 15th. Not sure what the ticket would be if You used studds out of season. I was told the smart is too light to use studds. They would work in the Ice and snow, But, on dry pavement they would be slippery.
Studs aren't good on dry pavements on any vehicle. They really aren't that great for snow either, just ice. You'd be ticketing yourself to drive your vehicle during the warm Spring/Summer months on studded tires, the warmed rubber would soften and wear out in no time. I take my studs off on my VW in March and put them on in December, but really January-February are the months that concern me most.
that is the same with most snow tires. Last year we did not get any snow after Feb. 29. I never drove the smart in snow and I picked it up on the last day of feb. last year
I imagine few will agree with me, but here's my impression of the stock tires on the Passion and Brabus as well as the LM-18 winter tires.

Well, I ended up buying the Bridgestone LM-18 Blizzaks since they were on closeouts and since I'm driving the Passion. I rationalized that I will be selling the Passion at the end of Winter, so I figured I couldn't lose by getting the closeout Blizzaks LM-18s. Also the idea that 145 narrow front snow tire in snow is better than the wider Hakka 5 (though narrower isn't always king over design but this is a light car, so I don't know...haven't tried the alternative)

For those of you on the fence between the closeout deal and the new version of the Blizzaks, I would recommend spending the extra money on the other version which has millions of miles of reviews. These LM-18s aren't reviewed for the most part and while people here seem to like them, I'm disappointed in them, i.e. they slip and slide more than I'm use to but then again I've never driven a car this light before in snow, so my review is extremely biased since I have nothing to compare them to...I have a Lexus with Blizzaks WS60s and well it's more than twice as heavy so that's apples and oranges in comparison.

IMO, the LM-18 is basically a mediocre siped all-season tire in the tread design, because the sipes aren't very deep (about 40-50% deep), so after a third of the tread is gone they'll be on the brink. The WS60s that I have on a Lexus are siped about 80% or so deep...a much better aggresive tread design, too. I'm glad to just have the LM-18s for one season before I give them away with the car otherwise if I were keeping this car then it would have seems like a waste of money over multiple winters.

I'm driving heavy this winter from the Northeast to the Midwest, a few thousand miles a month so I'll report on the wear, mostly Interstate.

As far as the stock tires, I was VERY impressed with how the Smart handled in heavy downpours at Interstate speeds however after about 12,000 miles on the conti-contact stock tires these low road resistance tires feel loose on the Interstate with regard to standing water at high speeds...keep in mind some of the states I'm going through have 70mph Interstate speed limits.

I also went through about a thousand miles of winds between 45 to 100mph gusts (according to the forecast) on dry and wet pavement and I will never own low-resistance tires on a Smart again. It's not worth being blown all over the road. That's one thing I like about the wider front and rear tires during the 3 seasons is it grips the road. I don't really notice much difference in gas mileage either with quad 17s on the Smart, i.e. if there is a difference, it's minimal. Also the larger tires absorb the road impacts much better and cornering/braking is a delight.

So basically here's my opinion thus far:

Avoid the LM-18s, spend extra money and buy any of the other options out there. For those who do slow city driving then the LM-18s are probably fine but if you're doing a lot of higher speeds then spend the extra dollars on the other version.

Avoid the stock Passion tires for the other seasons, they're mediocre tires and likely only reason Smart/Honda/Nissan etc use that particular tire is for gas mileage. Safety/Handling is more important to me than low road/tire resistance and the 400 tread life that they are rated is high meaning it's a hard rubber. A higher tread life doesn't mean the tire lasts longer in terms of handling, just in total lifetime miles. If that makes sense.

The Brabus stocks are pretty good for the 3 seasons, but I think 35 is too low profile for pot holes and larger profiles will get you run-flats.

I wish they'd make run-flats in stock Smart sizes since there's no spare :rolleyes:.

Next winter I'll likely get the Hakka 5s for the Brabus unless something else comes along that seems better.
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