By Casey Crowley

Studded tire season started Thursday and although local shops were busy, employees said the real rush usually doesn’t happen until the season’s first snowfall.

Oregon limits the use of studded tires because studies have shown that the metal studs that help keep vehicles from sliding on snow- or ice-covered roads also damage the pavement.

The Oregon Department of Transportation estimates studded tires cause $8.5 million in damage yearly.

Studded tires are legal from Nov. 1 through March 31. Occasionally the state extends the legal season for a couple of weeks when winter weather persists.

The fine for driving on studded tires outside the legal season is close to $200.

In Baker City, Lew Brothers Les Schwab, Commercial Tire and Baker Valley Mobile Tire all install studded tires. Although the legal season started Thursday, tire shops can install tires earlier if customers ask.

Lew Brothers manager Jake Pearce said Nov. 1 is busier than an average day, but not the busiest.

“When its Nov. 1, I expect a whole bunch of people,” Pearce.

As of around 3 p.m. Thursday, workers at Lew Brothers had installed studded or other winter tires on about 70 vehicles. The usual range for Nov. 1 is 75 to 150 vehicles.

Baker Valley Mobile Tire saw a similar trend Thursday, with around 20 customers having studded tires fitted as of 3 p.m.

The most hectic day, Pearce said, is usually the day the first significant snow falls in Baker City. On that day he expects from 100 to 150 customers.

Baker Valley Mobile Tire also has a rush of business on the first snow day, with 70 to 100 vehicles.

Commercial Tire put studded tires on about 15 vehicles Thursday, more than usual for a fall day before the first snowfall.

Having tires installed takes 10 to 30 minutes depending on the vehicle and whether the studded tires are already mounted on wheels.

See more in the Nov. 2, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.