Winter is almost upon us again and it soon will be time to put on your winter tires if you don’t want to skid all over the road like a kid learning how to skate. If you’re a Canadian and you’re still trying to run all seasons tires in the winter you may need to have your head examined!
Ok, it’s not that bad ... I used to be a die-hard believer in all-season tires year round myself, until one day I tried winter tires and I was an instant convert. It was like night and day! After you’ve used them, you’ll instantly wonder how you ever got by without them all these years. I actually enjoy driving in the winter now because, unless you’re driving on sheer ice, it almost feels the same as driving in the summer. You have full control of the vehicle, you never get stuck, and starting and stopping is a breeze.
In short, driving on all-season tires in the winter will save you money until you get in that costly accident. Or, you could just get stuck on the side of the road and end up missing an important meeting or have to pay for an expensive tow. So, we’ll rule out that option for saving money and assume you’re going to use winter tires if you already don’t.
Why A Second Set Of Rims Will Save You Money
In addition to the cost of winter tires, which I’ve already told you how to get for less changing your tires over every season using your existing rims can get pretty expensive. Most car shops will charge you at least $60-$70 + tax for the mounting, balancing, and installation. At twice a year, you’re spending at least $150.
If you’re a DIY kind of person, then you can’t get much easier than changing over a set of tires so your ongoing cost instantly drops from $150 to $0. Fortunately, a second set of rims isn’t just a money saver for the keeners with extra time. If you have your tires already mounted, your bill at the garage for the changeover will be lowered significantly to about $15-$20. That’s still a pretty great savings!
Where To Buy Your Second Set Of Rims For Winter
Unlike the tires themselves, buying the rims in the USA or online doesn’t typically save you a lot of money. If you happen to be buying new winter tires online anyway, you might consider buying your rims at the same time even if they aren’t much cheaper than locally because sometimes they will mount and balance them for free if you do so. TireRack is one place I know of that does this.
I’ve actually found the best bang for your buck in terms of quality and price when it comes to steel wheels for winter is Costco. They have a good selection of rims in store and the price works out to be significantly cheaper than other options.
For instance, I just bought 4 steel wheels for my Hyundai Sante Fe. At Canadian Tire, they cost $99 each. For 4, that works out to $447.48 including tax. At Costco, they had a very similar set for $52.99 each, bringing my total cost to $239.51. A savings of $207.96!
Keep in mind, if Costco doesn’t have the right size for your vehicle in-store, they have a much bigger selection online at Costco.ca for the same price with free shipping! That’s where I ended up getting mine because they didn’t have my size in stock at my local warehouse.
The Full Equation
So factoring in the startup cost for the new rims, here is how the math works out over a 5 year period that your winter tires will likely last before needing to be replaced. All numbers include tax.
Total Cost For Full Changeover Twice Annually:
$150 x 5 years = $750
Total Cost For Steel Wheel Changeover Twice Annually:
$239.51 for 4 steel wheels + ($16.95 x 2 changeovers x 5 years) = $409.01
That’s a savings of $340.99 right away. The next five years it gets even better because you don’t have to factor in the cost of the steel wheels bringing your savings to $580.50.
As a final bonus, if you ever decide to buy a new car having a second set of rims is a great selling feature that can help you command a higher price when you sell your existing car. Or, you can even opt to sell the rims and winter tires separately for a decent price.