November 12, 2009
I took the plunge and got winter tires for my car. A couple factors I used to make the decision: Based on the difference between the old worn out Michelin tires on my Accord and the new Continental tires on my Passat that I ended up driving at the same time last winter, I noticed a huge difference in tire performance. Any improvement in tire performance would be very welcome in difficult winter conditions. From the financial standpoint, if you plan to own the car for several years, enough to go through an even number of sets of tires, you've effectively just bought two sets of tires up front that will last twice as long.
At first I figured I would just get tires that fit on my regular rims and swap each year. There were however several reason why steel rims were a better idea. First, a smaller diameter wheel lets you pick a higher profile tire. The smaller width means it can get through snow better, although it might be a bit worse on ice, its a little better at handling pot holes and other bumps. The smaller diameter, higher profile tires are cheaper also. Mounting an entire wheel is cheaper than mounting a tire. Tires aren't designed to be mounted over and over again. So I snagged a used set of 16" steel wheels from a Jetta with the same bolt pattern for a really good price and found that 1010Tires in Vancouver had a much better price than any place local or online when comparing all costs.
So now I'm one of those guys driving around with ugly steel wheels and winter tires even though a nice looking wheel cover set is only $30, it doesn't seem worth it as the covers are just too easy to damage in winter.
Update: Winter Tire Report
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