How Winter Tires Offer Both Safety and Savings

Photo (cc) by noricum

As an Atlanta refugee who moved to Denver, it took me some time to figure out the deal with snow tires. Most cars come with all-season tires that are nominally equipped to handle some snow. While Denver doesn’t get all the snow the Colorado Rockies are famous for, the effects of an occasional blizzard can linger for weeks on shady side streets like the one I live on.

Now that I’ve survived many winters with several different cars, I finally figured out the least expensive and safest way to equip a car for winter…

  1. Forget “snow tires.” Traditional snow tires feature very wide tread gaps and work well in snow, but are loud and clunky without it. Technology has advanced in recent years to create what’s called “winter tires.” They’re for winter weather of all types – including ice and extremely cold weather. All-season tires and summer tires are made with a harder rubber compound that works best at higher temperatures, but not in the dead of winter. Therefore, winter tires offer advantages in cold weather and on dry pavement, even when the flakes aren’t flying.
  2. Consider safety. Winter tires aren’t about going faster. They’re about stopping quicker. Shorter stops and better control means fewer rear-end accidents. As a side benefit, owning winter tires enables you to also purchase dedicated summer tires, rather than the compromise with an all-season tire.
  3. A second set of tires costs little in the long run. Since you can only use one set of tires at a time, you’ll ultimately be paying the same amount on tires as you would if you had a single set, so there is little to lose. Your only costs will be the price of changing the tires out or, if you can change the wheels yourself, the one-time price of an additional set of wheels. (Hopefully you have a free place to store the ones you’re not using.)
  4. Consider winter wheels vs. just winter tires. If you can find a tire store that will swap your tires out for free each season, winter tires by themselves – not premounted on wheels – can make sense. But if you’re able to handle the DIY task of changing wheels twice a year, you can purchase an inexpensive set of steel wheels with winter tires already mounted. This is the approach I prefer. Unfortunately, newer cars come equipped with tire-pressure monitoring systems that can add hundreds to the price of an additional set of wheels.
  5. Try online tire-shopping. Buying tires online can make sense, especially when you have the wheels and tires shipped to you already installed. Depending on where you live, the shipping costs will often be justified by the sales tax savings.
  6. Attempt to price-match. Tire dealers know they’re competing with the Web, and they’ll bend over backward to keep your business. The next time you find a great deal online, don’t forget to call your local dealer and see if they’ll match the price.
  7. Remember to remove winter tires in the spring. Nothing wears out winter tires faster than driving them in hot weather. When springtime comes, don’t forget to swap out your winter tires for a more seasonal variety.

After years of experience, I concluded that I’d much rather drive in the snow in a two-wheel-drive car with winter tires than a four-wheel-drive without. Don’t find yourself fighting the first snowfall with the wrong tires on your car.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
8 Surprising Things No One Tells You About Retirement
8 Surprising Things No One Tells You About Retirement

Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for — and adjust to — life in your golden years.

26 Things Everyone Should Keep in Their Car
26 Things Everyone Should Keep in Their Car

These tools and conveniences help protect drivers from hassles and calamities on the road.

8 Secrets of an Expert Thrift Store Shopper
8 Secrets of an Expert Thrift Store Shopper

Here’s how a veteran thrift shopper scores the best deals — and turns a profit from them.

10 Tools You Need for Financial Stability
10 Tools You Need for Financial Stability

Have these tools and accounts in place so you can weather whatever comes your way.

15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It
15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It

Discover some must-have products on Amazon that you didn’t even know you were missing.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19
Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19

It takes just seconds to take this simple preventive measure.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.