First, a little lesson on why you need winter tires for those of you who believe all-seasons are just as good. Winter tires have deeper tread grooves and tread patterns that are better at coping with slush, snow and ice. Winter tires are also made of a different compound so they remain softer and more flexible in the cold weather. All-seasons should really be called three-season tires because they just don’t cut it in when Father Frost poops on our roads!
As with everything else, shopping around can land you a better deal. Try a warehouse store, compare prices online, and look over the border. Shipping might be worth it. Also take advantage of shopping rebates from manufactures. And don’t leave it until the snow actually falls; then you’re at the mercy of tire-sellers because demand will be limiting supply and you’ll be the dope who pays too much.
If you’re a guy, tires may be second nature to you. If you’re a girly-girl like me, you probably don’t know squat. Check out www.1010tires.com and start there.
Most experts recommend purchasing separate rims for your snow tires to eliminate the $15-$25 per wheel charge you’ll pay if you don’t and your tires have to be switched every season. And get those puppies on your car once the temp is sitting at about 10 degrees or less.
For heaven’s sake, don’t cheap out and buy just two tires. That can cause your car to spin unexpectedly because of the greater traction on the two winter tires. And don’t assume your AWD will protect you. You still need winter tires.
Once you’ve got them, maintain them. Keep your tires properly inflated so you get the best wear and when you take them off store them in plastic bags stacked horizontally. If you stand ‘em up, you’ll get flat spots.