Pros and Cons of Changing to Winter Wheels
If you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow, you may consider running winter tires. There are some pros and cons associated with getting winter wheels though. Here they are;
More grip in the cold, ice and snow
Winter tires really do offer extra grip and safety during the winter. The compound winter tires are made of, performs better in cooler temperatures vs a regular tire that may become less flexible. Whilst there are a lot of new vehicles out there that come with ‘All-Season’ tires, these are limited to what they can do in the winter. In a perfect world they would be amazing in all temperatures and road conditions, however, the idea of an ‘All-Season’ is that they are ok in most conditions as there has to be a compromise. A tire that’s good in summer doesn’t have the attributes that a tire needs to be great with, in the winter. This ultimately comes down to safety, being more in control of your vehicle. Do you have precious cargo?
Changing to winter wheels such as steel rims with higher profile tires means you may cry a little less if they get scuffed. The chances of the rims getting damaged in winter is much higher than in the summer. You know, like that pothole or curb that playing hide and seek under the snow.
Forgiveness from a higher sidewall
Going a rim size smaller will mean a higher sidewall (to keep rolling radius the same) on the tire which means it can be a little more forgiving, having some extra flex. Click to learn about tires sizes.
Having a dedicated summer and a dedicated winter set of tires will spread out the wear on the tires. Winter tires will wear out extremely quickly in hotter temperatures.
Whether you decide to keep the wheels and just change the tires or get a whole new set of wheels and tires, there’s a cost. Depending on the vehicle and size of the wheels, this can quickly become expensive on bigger wheels. The type of vehicle you have will also determine the cost. If your vehicle is AWD or 4WD you will need to replace all four tires . Even if your vehicle is FWD or RWD it also recommended to replace all four due to the change in grip levels and handling characteristics.
Changing tires each season
Winter tire can be purchased in the same size as your original tire. Changing tires isn’t really an easy DIY job at home. Tire machines are needed to take the tire off the rim, then there’s re-mounting and balancing. This means a trip to your local tire shop and time out of the day to do so. Whilst mounting new tires on your original rims, there is also the chance that the rims could get damaged.
Changing to winter wheels and tires each season
It may seem easier to just get a winter wheel and tire package, so you can replace the wheels yourself. The idea would be, go a rim size smaller, get cheap steel wheels. The smaller the rim the cheaper the tires right? Depending on the size this may be cheaper than buying a set of winter tires for your original wheel size. However, this isn’t as easy as it used to be years ago. Thanks to the invention of TPMS. This the tire pressure monitoring system. Some TPMS systems are mounted in the wheel itself and so this means potentially purchasing a whole new set of sensors, which could be around $150 per wheel (depending on manufacturer). This will also need to calibrated which means extra labor. Be sure to research wheel sizes before making a purchase as it’s not quite as easy as replacing 17″ for 17″ wheels. The bolt pattern, size and offset also have to be taken into consideration. If the offset is incorrect it may not fit over the brake caliper or rotors. The rolling radius should stay the same so the speedometer reading is accurate.
Calculating the sizes
Changing wheel or tire sizes can be complex. Here is a tire size comparison calculator. Another option is to contact your local parts dept, or Jeff Bugher, Parts Manager as Fremont VW in Casper, who can assist you.
Lauren has been working in the automotive industry both in the U.K and in the U.S. for over 10 years. She has driven hundreds of vehicles, not only new cars but beaters without heaters, fast cars on fire, slow cars in snow, off-road trucks in the mucks, and old pickups with pups. She’s driven heaps of Jeeps, miles in muscle and once took her gran in a car from Japan.