You know you need snow tires. That’s the easy part. Knowing which snow tires are the right ones for your car is where it gets tough. There are literally hundreds of options out there, making it easy to feel overwhelmed.
To help snap you out of analysis paralysis, check out these five snow-tire shopping tips. Keep them in mind as you begin your snow tire search
1. Know what you’re looking for. By now you know that not all snow tires are created equal. Your snow tires should provide a strong grip in winter weather conditions, be durable, allow for a comfortable ride and include a warranty. If you can’t find snow tires with these four qualities at one store, it’s time to move one to another one.
2. Buy a matching set. When it comes to snow tires, always plan on buying four. Some drivers make the mistake of buying only two tires, such as two front tires for a front-wheel-drive car. This is not the best move; when you start to slide, you want to know all four wheels are evenly gripping the road.
3. Start the buying process early. Tire retailers start to see demand for snow tires in the fall, so they stock their snow tires at this time. If you don't buy your snow tires before the snow starts to fly, it’s possible that the retailer's inventory will be depleted later on.
4. Don’t forget the additional costs. Unless you plan to install your snow tires yourself, be prepared for some extra costs. Most shops charge $10 to $20 per wheel for installation, and some may charge even more. You’ll also pay to have them removed once the worst of winter’s wrath has passed.
5. Ask about other tire options. See if your retailer has tire options other than conventional snow tires. For example, what about minus-size tires? Choosing a tire with a smaller wheel size and/or a narrower tread is known as minus-sizing. The tire’s smaller size makes it easier to cut through the snow. You can also consider studded snow tires. The metal studs make the tire handle better on ice—just know that they’ve been banned in some states because of the damage they cause to pavement. To better understand all of your options, make sure you ask a professional which alternatives exist for your vehicle.
Winter's coming quickly, so start your snow tire shopping today. You know you need snow tires—and with this information, you have a better idea on how to shop for them.