You Should Mount Your Winter Tires On Steel Rims

You should mount your winter tires on steel rimsWinter 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!

Related: You Need A Quality Back Yard Mechanic

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!

Related: Car Parts And Repairs For Up To 90% Off!

Keep in mind, if Costco doesn’t have the right size for your vehicle in-store, they have a much bigger selection online at 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.

Bonus: Want to know which rust proofing is best? Checkout my free PDF download.

Do you run winter tires on your vehicle? How about a second set of wheels?


Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

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Jon Haver
Jon Haver's picture
Thanks for the detailed informative post. I was thinking about for a while. But did not much about it. Thanks mate for the post.
October 29, 2013 @ 10:49 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
My pleasure Jon. Hopefully I was able to push you over the edge and you'll pick up a set this winter!
October 29, 2013 @ 11:18 am
Richard's picture
Have you found any good places for ordering tires from the US?
October 29, 2013 @ 3:53 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Well, it depends if you want to pick the tires up in the US or not. The best way to do it is to get them shipped to the border if it is in driving distance. There was a way to buy tires from JC Whitney and ship them directly to your house very cheaply because they didn't charge any border fees nor did you have to pay taxes. They would also price match other sites like Tire Rack. They have since changed their policies though. You can still ship to Canada but it costs more and their selection can be quite limited as well. I wrote about the whole process here. It's a little out of date but still contains good info.
October 29, 2013 @ 8:23 pm
Richard's picture
Ah, too bad - a lot of people can't easily pick things up across the border. Taking a full set of tires on a CRJ would really be pushing it :)
October 29, 2013 @ 9:41 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
It used to be a 3 hour drive for me so I would collect a long list of things I needed to buy and then order them all online at once and ship them all to the border. Then I would either suck it up and make the drive, or even plan a short family vacation to the States around it. If you stay for a couple of days the additional savings on taxes + the huge savings you are getting by cross border shopping can easily pay for the mini vacation + a whole lot of additional savings to boot. Have you looked into They are a Canadian company that sells tires online. Prices aren't as good as the USA, but often cheaper than other Canadian retailers. I haven't used them myself yet unfortunately.
October 29, 2013 @ 11:10 pm
Richard's picture
I haven't heard of that - just got new tires but I might as well build up the bookmarks for next time!
October 29, 2013 @ 11:18 pm
Kevin Watts
Kevin Watts's picture
Do you know any other place except Costco where I can buy my winter set. The full equation makes much more sense to purchase winter set. Thanks mate
October 30, 2013 @ 4:33 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Well there are lots of potential places where you could buy steel rims. If you wait for a good sale, Canadian Tire isn't that bad of an option. You could try online at You could check with Walmart. I'd actually suggest calling around to a few places including some local tire shops and garages to see what they can offer you. Also, keep in mind you do NOT need a membership to shop on! Anyone can buy from their online store. Click the previous link to get a bunch more info on Costco.
October 30, 2013 @ 9:46 am
Gary's picture
Did the same math myself and got steel rims from Costco online last year. For winter tires I got it around this time of year from Canadian Tire which was selling off the previous year's Nordic model at big discount. The price was cheaper than any decent winter tire that I could get TireRack. So check retailers now to see whether there are any last year's clearout.
October 30, 2013 @ 1:35 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Good tip, thanks Gary!
October 30, 2013 @ 1:48 pm
zoey's picture
I found a great deal at Superlube. If you got their 'winter' oil change, then they would put on your winter tires (that are on their own rims) for free at the shop behind them. So watch for good deals like that. So for $60 plus tax I had the winter oil change and inspection plus they installed my winter tires to my car. Great deal.
November 22, 2013 @ 4:12 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
That's a great tip zoey, thanks! $60 is a little expensive for an oil change but when you throw in the inspection as well as the tire change then it makes it a little more reasonable. If you're getting synthetic oil though, then $60 is a fantastic deal for all of that.
November 27, 2013 @ 8:47 am
Ann's picture
Just got my snow tires mounted on winter rims & installed. I noticed there is a different size weight on 3 of the rims & no weight on the 4th wheel. I thought each wheel would have the same weight. Is this normal?
December 04, 2013 @ 7:44 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Yes, this is normal and is part of the balancing process. It is normal for steel wheels to not be perfectly balanced because the manufacturing process for them isn't a perfect as for more expensive alloy wheels. In addition, tires often aren't perfectly weighted either so the wheels often need weights added to them anyway to make them balance so you won't have any vibrations when driving. Nothing to be concerned about as long as you don't get any steering wheel vibrations at higher speeds.
December 05, 2013 @ 9:49 am
Todd's picture
Hi, Just purchased a set of Blizzaks 245 55 R19 from Costco. However i cant find 19inch steels on their site. Has anyone had this issue yet? Thanks
January 07, 2014 @ 2:33 pm
Todd's picture
They are for a 2012 Toyota Venza.
January 07, 2014 @ 2:35 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Based on the PDF document on the costco website on the steel rims page, it looks like you can get steel wheels that fit your Venza, but they expect you to downsize your winter tires to either a 17" or 18" size. This is actually a very good idea because a smaller tire typically both gives you better traction in the snow and will generally cost less money. Since you bought the tires from Costco, you can easily return them for a refund for any reason and buy the correct size to go with the steel wheels if you want. Good luck!
January 10, 2014 @ 8:26 am
Karl Jobst's picture

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June 04, 2015 @ 9:37 am
Alex's picture
Auto Recyclers are also a good place to get rims. I lucked out and got some Generals from JC Whitney for under $300 when they still had the cheap shipping option.
January 09, 2014 @ 12:52 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Great idea on the rims Alex. Ya, I lucked out there too. I just checked my old invoice and I was able to get 4 General Altimax Artic tires from JC Whitney for $270 all-in shipped to my door. That was a pretty smoking hot deal.
January 10, 2014 @ 8:21 am
Rosalie's picture
One important consideration on winter tires - they really aren't an added cost! As you end up spiting the life of the tires over 2 sets of tires, there by not requiring to go out and replace your all season tires for a few more years! Most insurance companies will give you a discount if you have winter tires on your car. A winter tire and rim package is definitely the way to go, as repeatedly re-installing the tires can lead to leaks. And many dealerships will swap out your tire and rim package, that you bought from them, free of charge.
April 25, 2014 @ 2:37 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Yes, that's very true Rosalie. It's a larger upfront cost but it really pays for itself in the tire changeovers and lack of leaks. Then, like you say, you don't have to buy a new set of tires for much longer after that. I also discovered that my dealership will change over the tires for free even though I didn't buy the tires or rims from them. Definitely wasn't expecting that!
April 28, 2014 @ 11:13 am
Marie's picture
Can you please tell me if steel rims for winter tires from a 2009 Toyota Matrix will fit a 2007 Pontiac Vibe. Both indicate R16. What are some key concerns if considering the purchase of used rims? Thanks for any thoughts on this.
May 17, 2014 @ 11:43 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
This isn't something I've really ever investigated. I have always purchased new rims when purchasing a new vehicle in the past. I've also never bought them used. You can definitely save money by doing this but I've found them cheap enough new that I haven't bothered. You'd be best talking to a qualified mechanic about it I would say.
May 18, 2014 @ 9:45 pm
Brian's picture
Winter tires and AWD are just an excuse for people to drive too fast for the weather conditions. I lived in Quebec for 4 years where the law states you must have winter tires so I have used them and found they are not much better on plowed roads. People tend to drive faster with winter tires so they are more of a hazard than a help and people leave them on all year round because there is no law requiring summer tires a bald winter tire is not any better than an all season tire. if you drive according to weather condition's all season tires are fine. My neighbor changed back to her all season tires a little early, we got a little wet snow, she would not drive because she didn't have her snow tires on,how pathetic! Just proves how brain washed we have become.
June 16, 2014 @ 4:00 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Idiots will always be idiots no matter what you do. I disagree though. If you are a cautious driver, snow tires will prevent accidents and keep you in better control of your vehicle. I drove with high quality all season tires for years and years. I know how to drive in slippery conditions and handle a vehicle, but I would still never go back.
June 17, 2014 @ 9:31 am
Sheena's picture

Score! I'm shopping for tires and you both confirmed my research and gave me some good ideas :) Any advice on TPMS? So far my solution is a black sticker for the dash because I can't justify another hundreds of dollars on top of tires & rims right now :S

December 03, 2014 @ 5:28 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
I've never had TPMS in any of my vehicles so I can't really comment on the value of continuing with it. I know it can be expensive and makes it more difficult to have winter rims. I just check my tire pressure once a month on both my vehicles to make sure it is good as part of a monthly routine I do around the house. Simple and works for me.
December 04, 2014 @ 1:23 pm
Kenny's picture

How much more would alloy wheels be? My vehicle already has steel wheels, so I'm considering using them for winter and buying new ones for summer. My main reason to do this would be cause the current ones have hubcaps which I worry will fall off costing more money.

September 17, 2015 @ 3:29 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

It's impossible to answer that question Kenny because alloy wheels range in price from less than a hundred dollars each up to several hundred or even thousands. Prices also vary a lot based on size, materials, brand, and style. Try shopping around on TireRack and other online sites and see what you come up with.

September 21, 2015 @ 3:35 pm
Alan's picture

Hmmm. Even on my FWD vehicles, I had not been crisscrossing them during rotation. I had basically swapped the front and rear tires and kept them on the same side. The Michelle all season tires are not unidirectional by the way.

Now that we are in a market for an AWD vehicle, some comment on a car forum made me look at how rotation should be done.

For AWD, crisscrossing may be a necessity. But if most if not all winter tires are unidirectional, then it seems mounting and dismounting are inevitable and can be quite costly unless maybe done only every two years.

October 01, 2015 @ 4:30 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I hadn't considered proper rotation before Alan. I think the criscross rotation is the best for even wear on tires like you say. I believe you are right that a lot of winter tires are unidirectional which would mean that you can only keep them on the same side and move them front to back unless you remount them.

Personally, I don't think I'm going to worry about this as I have never remounted mine and haven't noticed any bad uneven wear that would concern me.

October 02, 2015 @ 2:53 pm
Heidi's picture

I drove my daughter's car last winter with winter tires. It made me a believer! I just bought winter tires for my Rogue. :)

December 04, 2015 @ 11:56 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Converting people to winter tires one person at a time!

December 07, 2015 @ 9:50 am
Fern's picture

Some years ago, I bought a second car that had tires and wheels interchangeable with my existing car. The only difference was that one car had steel wheels and the other had alloy wheels. I found that the alloy wheels gave better and more precise control in cornering than the steel wheels. My thought is that the alloy wheels are more rigid. It is easy to imagine that the cheap steel rims one might buy for winter use would be prone to some deformation when subjected to the stresses encountered when cornering, thus affecting steering to some extent. It also seems to me that it would be best to ensure that steering in winter conditions be kept as good as possible. If your budget permits, it might be best to have both sets of tires mounted on alloy rims or just remount your tires as the seasons change. Also, an argument could be made that periodic remounting/rebalancing might make sense from a maintenance point of view. Have you had a similar experience?

January 03, 2016 @ 3:12 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I haven't noticed any problems in handling with the steel wheels but I haven't tested it to any great lengths either. I do often do quite aggressive maneuvers and corners when no other cars are around to test the roads in winter and sometimes just for fun when I'm by myself. The vehicles always seems to perform quite well even with the steel wheels.

January 03, 2016 @ 7:31 pm
Liz's picture

It may still be cheaper to have a second set of rims for your snow tires, but there are some added expenses that need to also be considered:
1) If your car is 2007/2008 or newer, it is equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems -- which are attached to the rim. So, if you have an extra set of rims, you will also need to buy an extra set of TPMS sensors to attach to those rims. And they are not cheap: even online from discount places, they typically cost about $50 on up each. So, that adds US$200 or more.
2) Extra rims may need lug bolts and valve stems - which could be another US$30-$40 depending on how many are needed
3) You will have to pay extra to put the snow tires on those rims in the first place (that is a one time cost, but still -- it will be the $75 cost rather than $16.95 (= $58 more) the first time).

(I was so dismayed to realize the TPMS issue when getting snow tires for daughter today -- I planned to put her tires on rims -- and then was told I would also need to buy a set of TPMS sensors for the new rims -- in my case, they cost almost $80 each!!)

January 06, 2016 @ 3:32 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, TPMS is really a pain in the rear end and mostly an unnecessary feature. Just looking at the tires and pulling out your pressure gauge every so often is good enough for that I think. I've never had TPMS and even my 2013 Sante Fe doesn't have it (thankfully). Is it not possible just to not install the TPMS on the winter rims and just deal with the warnings that come up on the dash?

Some of the extra costs you mention are extra costs for having winter tires, not a second set of rims. For instance, you will need to install and balance the winter tires every year if you don't have a second set of rims. If the winter tires are already mounted, then you can DIY or get them put on for $15 or $20 easily. I think an install and balance for tires is creeping up to $100 after tax around here.

You also mentioned valve stems. It's true you need a second set when you have a second set of tires. However, valve stems can go bad more quickly when you are mounting and unmounting tires all the time from the same set of rims. I'd imagine your chances of having to replace stems early would go down significantly if you are always keeping the same tires on the rims.

January 07, 2016 @ 10:46 am
Liz's picture


Costco does in dead have GREAT prices for wheels!!! And right now through late Jan 2016 they have a further $150 discount on any set of wheels.

This made it cheaper than the used rims I had been about to buy from local junkyard...

January 06, 2016 @ 3:44 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Wow, that's amazing that they're cheaper than a junkyard. I laughed out loud when I read that :)

January 07, 2016 @ 10:47 am
Amin's picture

How much more would alloy wheels be? My vehicle already has steel wheels, so I'm considering using them for winter and buying new ones for summer. My main reason to do this would be cause the current ones have hubcaps which I worry will fall off costing more money. Thanks

March 18, 2016 @ 3:46 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I don't use hubcaps so that isn't an issue for me. Steel wheel ugly is OK by me in winter. Alloy wheels range in price a lot so you just have to look and see what is available for your vehicle.

March 18, 2016 @ 3:33 pm
Tom's picture

When I first saw this title, I thought, must be something about steel rims. But I see it's really about having a second set of rims. Glad because I took great care to buy an extra set of aluminum rims second hand.

May 10, 2016 @ 3:33 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, a well-priced set of aluminum rims would be even better Tom.

May 13, 2016 @ 2:28 pm
bond's picture

Hi I have a 2k12 mini and i want to know if i can put new rims on a cooper mini for snow tires

December 10, 2016 @ 12:10 pm
Jason's picture

It would be nice to see this article updated with numbers for a vehicle equipped with TPMS. My calculations find that it is NOT worth getting an extra set of steel rims with an extra set of sensors.

August 28, 2017 @ 6:13 pm

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