The perennial question: are snow tires worth it? For the cash-strapped driver, buying a new set of tires you’ll only use for a quarter of the year sounds like a bad idea. What’s more, changing your regular tires out at the tire dealer every year is kind of a hassle. If you have an all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicle and a set of chains, seems like you’ve got the winter driving situation under control, right?
Not necessarily; a Consumer Reports survey reveals snow tires are worth buying, even for AWD cars and trucks. They lower the chances of winter accidents by five percent, and with snow tires you’re three percent less likely to be seriously injured or die in an accident. The cost of snow tires is well worth it compared to the cost of a wreck.
AWD helps you get started with firm footing on the snow, but it doesn’t solve every challenge you’ll encounter on snowy or icy roads. According to Consumer Reports, “Our evaluations conclusively showed that using winter tires matters more than having all-wheel drive in many situations, and that the difference on snow and ice can be significant.”
What if you put chains on a set of all-season tires? Do you need snow tires then? Chains will definitely give you good traction, but they’re not convenient. Long story short, you can use chains on a snow-covered road, but the minute you hit pavement, you must take the chains off. Unless you’re driving in a snow-locked mountain setting all the time, chains just aren’t practical when it comes to ease-of-use.
When it comes down to it, if you’re in for snowy, icy conditions, snow tires are your best bet. Here’s a quick guide on how to make them more affordable.
Cheap Snow Tires: Buy Them At the Right Time
The name of the game for cheap snow tires is timing. Manufacturers and retailers team up on sales and rebates in the months before winter kicks in. Manufacturers craft their snow tires in anticipation of the season, so they have warehouses full of brand new, high quality snow tires waiting for consumers to scoop them up before the snow begins to fall. You can find snow tires at a lower price while supply is high.
You have to hurry, because tire rebates and offers have an expiration date. For snow tires, that date typically lands in October, November, or December. Wait till after December, and rebates and sales will be over. It’s an “early bird gets the worm” scenario. January finds winter in full swing and demand for snow tires is high, so it’s rare for there to be rebates at that juncture.
Cheap Snow Tires: Buy Them Online
If you’re not able to take advantage of rebates and sales, it still helps to find your snow tires online. Buy them here, and you’ll save on top-rated tires like the Hankook Winter I*Cept, which regularly earns a minimum four out of five stars in consumer reviews. The reason why you save is simple: we get them straight from the manufacturer and pass the savings onto you, with free shipping and a free road hazard warranty included. When you buy from us, you’re not paying for the middleman—the tire dealer. You’re not paying for upkeep on a fancy showroom, nor are you paying the salesperson’s commission. You’re just paying for the tires.
Cheap Snow Tires: Consider Financing
Financing will spread your payments out over time, meaning you pay less now. If you aren’t able to afford an entire winter tire set before a rebate expires, this is a good option. You’ll be able to get the rebate, get the whole set, and maximize your family’s safety sooner than later.
Your two options for financing are PayPal Credit and Affirm financing. Make payments in full, on time, and it may help improve your credit score. For PayPal Credit, you won’t pay any interest if you pay off your entire loan in full within six months.
Keeping the Cost Low: Change Tires Over Yourself
This isn’t necessarily easy for a first-timer, but it will minimize your spend. Here are the steps to putting winter tires on rims yourself (note this quick and dirty method involves a lot of elbow grease and minimal tools; you might scratch your rims if you’re not careful):
- Gather necessary tools: Valve stem core remover, two pry bars, rubber hammer, soapy water in spray bottle (or spray lubricant), jack, tire iron, air compressor
- Remove wheels from vehicle with jack and tire iron (see how to safely change a tire)
- Remove valve stem core from tire with valve stem core remover: Be careful, the core is under pressure, so make sure all pressure is released before you take out valve stem core
- Break tire bead: Slowly drive a truck or other heavy vehicle onto tire, being sure not to contact the rim; do it on frontside and backside until tire bead is broken away from the rim
- Spray tire wall nearest to the rim all the way around with soapy water or lubricant
- Lay wheel flat on the ground, frontside up; pry tire up over top of the rim with pry bar
- Stand wheel up so that the frontside of the rim faces away from you, spray back of tire sidewall with more lubricant
- Insert pry bar between tire and rim, and work your way around with the pry bar, pounding the tire off of the rim with mallet
- Spray new tire sidewalls with lubricant and work it onto rim with pry bars and hammer
- Set the bead: Stand the backside of the wheel against an immobile surface, kick the rim firmly until bead is set
- Rotate tire around, push on the the rim a little so that tire is near to edge of rim, then use air compressor to pressurize tire; tire should pop firmly onto rim
This is one way to change a tire over without a tire changer tool. It’s not pretty, but this YouTube video will show you the process. For a more official version, this YouTube video here will show you how to do it with a tire changer.
Regardless of whether you change over your tires yourself, buying snow tires online will save you money over buying them at a shop. You’ll be secure and ready to hit the road with your snow tires on for the winter.