I got the winter tires installed on our faithful ’98 Subaru Outback today. Will be doing a trip into the BC interior later this month, and while there’s no snow yet, the higher passes could get some any day now.
I’ve always been a believer in winter tires from the days I first began driving in Saskatchewan a long time ago. And as the experts recommend, I put them on all four wheels. (And that’s not because of Subaru’s all-wheel-drive. You should do this for front-drive or rear-drive vehicles, too.)
The “all-season” tires that I use most of the year are rated “M+S” and therefore are accepted as snow tires in BC, but I figure using the real thing adds a margin of safety.
What I changed in my routine several years back was getting winter wheels (yes, those drab steel items). They pay off in just a few years, because if you keep your winter tires mounted on rims, dealers and garages will often swap summer for winter, and vice versa, for free as part of regular maintenance, since they need to take the wheels off to check brakes, etc., anyway.
Or if you just get the tires swapped, if they’re already mounted on rims, it’ll run around $40 rather than over $100.
And if you have a partner with aesthetic sensibilities that are offended when the mag wheels are replaced by black-painted metal, you will find that they will be eager to ante up for fancy wheel covers : -).
But what about the cost of those extra winter tires?
The way I see it, if you keep your vehicle for many years, like we do, there is no extra cost. You’d be buying new summer or all-season tires more often if you weren’t using winter ones, eh?