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Winter Tire Costs & 5 Money-Saving Tips

How much do winter tires cost for low-end, mid-range & premium brands? What impact do tires sizes and brands have on total costs? We explain, plus offer 5 simple money-saving tips if you're in the market for a set of winter tires this year.

Each year, many drivers throughout Canada tangle with the prospect of replacing worn snow tires or purchasing their first new set. According to recent data from the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada, over 70% of Canadian drivers use winter tires. Some resort to using all-season tires as a substitute because they are sometimes perceived adequate for the job in most conditions.

However, this is quite risky, especially in regions where precipitations are heavy or important temperature drops are frequent. Drivers who want to go the safest and best route should invest in proper winter tires.

However, understanding more about winter tires, how they are priced, and other tips may go a long way to saving money when purchasing and owning winter tires. 

2 major things impact how much you spend on winter tires

Below are a couple significant factors affecting the cost of winter tires. 

Size: larger tires cost more money and are higher in demand

Two primary factors drive the cost of snow tires. First, size is the most obvious. Smaller tires ranging from 14" to 15" will naturally have a much lower cost than large truck, SUV or high performance vehicle tires. Generally, tires hit a much steeper price curve around the 17" size range, not only because of the size itself, but also because they are in greater demand. 

Brand: Expect to pay more for US & European-based brands

Another factor that affects price is the tire's origin and/or brand. Chinese and Asian brands are lower in price than European or American brands. Sometimes these price differences are offset by tire quality, longevity, and design. 

Low-end, mid-range, and premium winter tires: expected costs

Typically, a low-end snow tire will cost up to $100. Mid-range models will hold between $100 and $200, and premium tires usually start at $200 and up. Once again, many factors can impact these prices, including the size, but also rebates, sales, demand, and more. 

Other cost variables to consider

Some drivers purchase an entirely separate set of rims for snow tires. Although this is an upfront investment, it basically eliminates re-mounting costs. If you are without a second set of rims, a shop must switch the tires on each rim and balance them twice per year, and these costs can add up. 

Over time, the extra rims can pay for themselves and more. Barring any unforeseen events like accidents and damage, these will last as long as you keep the vehicle. 

Besides mounting and balancing, other costs may also include tire pressure monitoring sensors, tire storage, and even tire cleaning. 

Shopping for a set of snow tires now? Here are some winter tire buying tips to consider.  

5 winter tire money-saving tips

There is good news – all is not lost in the sea of potential costs with snow tire acquisition and ownership. Following are some tips to help reduce their financial impact. Plus, a closer look at how to maximize winter tire life in this article

1. Buy used tires

It is easy to find tires through local online marketplaces using apps or social networks. If you know your tire information, you can determine if the set will match your vehicle. It is also recommended to check used tire tread depth and overall condition when inspecting the tires. 

Any tire with less than 5/32" of tread depth should not be used or sold - new tires have 10/32" to 12/32" of depth.

2. Install them yourself

If you have the proper tools, space and know-how, then you can save money by installing the tires yourself. Better yet, if you already have snow tires installed on a second set of rims, then all you really have to do is check tread depth each year before popping them on.

3. Shop year-round

When demand goes down, so do prices. A little extra time scanning for clearance specials and other deals in the spring or summer can bring significant savings. Use the long warm season to find proper rims and maintenance services, and you can spread out the costs over a longer period. When late fall arrives, you will have a set of rim-installed tires ready to put on your vehicle while avoiding the inflated costs of the season. 

4. Insurance discounts

Check to see if your insurance carrier offers discounts if you use snow tires. A quick call could help offset some of your seasonal maintenance costs. 

5. Don't mix things up

For safety, performance and cost considerations, do not mix tire brands among your set of snow tires. Tread depth differences, materials, ratings, and so much more can lead to uneven wear, safety hazards and even mechanical damage, especially on all-wheel drive vehicles. 

Mixing tires can speed up the date for yet another replacement of all four tires and maintenance costs. When one tire wears down, the others are likely close behind, so it makes better sense to replace them all with the same product. 

With the proper know-how and a bit of detective work, you can reduce the stress and cost of a new set of winter tires.

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