Saturday, November 15, 2014

Buy Winter Tires Intelligently

It’s again this time of the year that we need to change tires on our cars. If your tires are all good from the previous year, just go to your mechanic and change them if your hubby does not enjoying spending a couple of hours changing the tires by himself. If it’s time to buy winter tires, approach this relatively expensive activity intelligently. Look at it from different angles: the initial investment and long-term benefits or flaws. See these three options that can help you make the right decision about winter tires.

Option #1: Buy used winter tires

Winter tires are usually good for 60,000-100,000 kilometers or 4-5 winters. So if you buy used winter tires from Craiglist or Kijiji you may save up to 40-50% of the original cost of the tires. The only drawback is that you may be buying a cat in the bag. If you are not a tire specialist, you cannot say how long the tire has been used for by doing a simple visual inspection of the winter tire. Sellers on Kijiji tend to hide some small details like that the tires were used for two winters instead of the announced “one-winter”. No seller will provide you with the accurate number of kilometers that the tire ran. $300 that you dish out for 4 winter tires may be good for 1-2 winters more. A real saver? Yes, but it’s really short-term.

Option #2: Buy winter “new” retreaded/remanufactured winter tires

You have probably seen ads for cheap winter tires sold by small garages or online sites. Such “new” winter tires cost only 50-60% of the price announced by tire manufacturers. How come? The answer is easy – these are no new winter tires. These are remanufactured or retreaded winter tires. In short, these are used or old winter tires, in which a layer of new rubber was glued on the top. Whereas industrial retreading (trucks and heavy vehicles) has established itself as a well-oiled industry, retreading for recreational vehicles’ tire has to prove its viability yet.


Buy retreaded tires only if you have warranty from the seller and if you check on the seller’s reputation and commitment to their warranty. Quality and stability on the road for these reworked winter tires needs to be in the focus when you decided to buy them. Quality and stability on the road are the two factors that you don’t want to joke about when you are on an icy or snowy road in the middle of nowhere.

Option #3: Buy new original winters tires

Expensive is the word to use when referring to new winter tires. Whether you buy at Canadian Tire or Costco, it’s still more expensive than in Option #1 or Option #2 presented above. Yes, expensive but you have the warranty and you know your new winter tires are really NEW. Plus, your car will run on them for the length of the promised kilometers.

To alleviate the hefty initial investment, winter tire manufacturers provide rebates. The mail-in rebates range from $40 to $100 dollars depending on the model of the tires. If you decide to buy a set of new winter tires, here are the most popular makes and links to rebate forms. After buying the tires, download the form, fill it out, attach the sale receipt and send it over to the address in the form. It takes between 4-8 weeks to get your check or a pre-paid credit card from the winter tire manufacturer.

Firelli – get in-mail rebates up to $100 when you buy a set of 4 Pirelli winter tires before December 15, 2014. Download the rebate form in PDF.

Toyo – get in-mail rebates up to $70 when you buy a set of 4 Toyo winter tires before December 15, 2014. Download the rebate form in PDF.

Yokohama – get in-mail rebates up to $70 when you buy a set of 4 Yokohama winter tires before December 15, 2014. Download the rebate form in PDF.

Continental – get in-mail rebates up to $65 when you buy a set of 4 Continental winter tires before December 15, 2014. Download the rebate form in PDF.

General Tire – get in-mail rebates up to $35 when you buy a set of 4 General Tire winter tires before December 15, 2014. Download the rebate form in PDF.

BFGoodrich – get in-mail rebates up to $35 when you buy a set of 4 BFGoodrich winter tires before December 15, 2014. Download the rebate form in PDF.

Nokian – get in-mail rebates up to $50 when you buy a set of 4 Nokian winter tires before December 15, 2014. Download the rebate form in PDF.

Bridgestone – get in-mail rebates up to $70 when you buy a set of 4 Bridgestone winter tires before November 30, 2014. Download the rebate form in PDF.

Goodyear & Dunlop – get in-mail rebates up to $100 when you buy a set of 4 Goodyear or Dunlop winter tires before December 31, 2014. Download the rebate form in PDF.

Michelin – get in-mail rebates up to $70 when you buy a set of 4 Michelin winter tires before December 15, 2014. Download the rebate form in PDF.

Here are some additional tips when you buy winter tires:

Always buy four matching winter tires
You might be tempted to buy just two winter tires for your drive axle. But it’s not a very good idea. When two wheels grip and two don't, your vehicle can easily pinwheel out of control.

Don't forget to budget for installation
Tire shops usually charge $15 to $25 per tire for mounting and balancing, but some charge more.

Consider getting the wheel package
You could re-mount your tires on your existing rims every time you switch. I would recommend to have your winter tires mounted on their own rim. Traditionally, this has made installation cheaper, too.

Consider minus-sizing for your winter tires
Narrower tires can more easily cut a path through snow than wider tires. You can minus-size for winter by choosing a smaller wheel size and narrower tread than your original tire (such tires are usually less expensive too!). Any tire retailer has guides that list appropriate substitute sizes for your car.

I hope you will make the right decision based on your needs and available budget. Safe winter driving!