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Winter Snow Tires - Why They Are Free and Where To Get Them

Winter is coming, as the saying goes. If you’ve been putting off getting winter tires, here are some things to consider.

The motor press and the mass media have done a great job laying out the case for why winter tires (formerly called snow tires) are effective. Any article you read has examples of the stopping distances of the winter tires compared to all-season tires in a variety of conditions, the turning effectiveness of both in all conditions and of course, how well they get you going in winter conditions. Rather than try to sell you on why winter tires work, we’d like to try to nudge you a little closer by explaining why they cost you nothing and give you an understanding of how to get them and what to do in the spring.
- Want a comparison of AWD vs. Winter Tires? Here you go!

First the economics. Despite the hype by tire makers, very few all-season tires will last you more than about 30K or 40K miles. If you have performance all-season rubber, the tread life is more like 25K if you are lucky. That means that over the normal course of your vehicle ownership you are going to buy more than one full set of tires. Given that reality, owning winter tires is cheaper than you might guess because every mile that goes on them would have gone on your all-season tires (or summer-only tires). So the miles that go on the winter ones would have been “tire miles” you would end up paying for anyway.

You will need to have the tires stripped off the rims and the other set put on twice per year, which will cost you money, but not time. You were headed into the shop twice per year anyway to rotate your tires, and maybe get an oil change, state inspection sticker, or service completed. Time your winter mounting and spring mounting visit to coincide with those.

Yes, it costs a little extra to have a tire mounted and balanced, but the good news is that winter tires cost less than all-season tires do. That lower cost helps to offset some of the cost of mounting and balancing twice per year.

As to where you can find winter tires, start with Tire Rack for ideas on tire models that fit your exact car. We are not advocating you buy the tires there, but the site does an outstanding job of providing you with options and reviews by people that used tires on vehicles like yours. Research the tires there, it will only take you 10 minutes. Then either buy them there and have them shipped directly to the place you go for service, or ask that place to give you a price that is competitive. Winter tires are easy and cost you next to nothing. Stop procrastinating and get to it. Winter is coming.

Image By John Goreham