Over the years, I have heard countless consumers use the argument that Winter tires are too expensive to justify buying them. That justification is completely false when you factor in the potential for them to save a life. Sadly, many drivers take the “that could never happen to me” stance because they think they are the best driver on the road. When presented with real financial numbers however, many begin to see the light.
Earlier today, a fellow writer passed along this note from a reader:
I keep reading the reams of marketing articles in favor of Winter tires and I always used them just in case they are safer, although I am not convinced??
However, for the first time I have leased an MKC for 3 years and fortunately I did, as for many reasons I will not buy it out at the end of the lease.
So, my dilemma. I have 20″ premium painted Alum wheels and to put on very expensive snow, or all weather tires is not a reasonable financial proposition as they may be of no use on my replacement vehicle ($900 + )! What can I do?
There must be thousands of leased autos. What do we all do?
What happens in Quebec where snow or all weather are mandatory?
My response is below.
Your concern is posed as a financial question and quite honestly, that is the simplest way to answer the question.
Forgetting the potential of personal injury for a minute, the question of saving $900 over a three year period is one of false economy.
First off, I have driven an MKC with stock all season tires in snow and it’s handling and braking performance was terrible. Bear in mind that the tires on your vehicle, a P255/40R20 size are designed as a high performance fitment. They simply are not meant to be used below 7 degrees C and certainly not in snow.
So lets take a common, simple incident, the sliding into a curb scenario. This is a very common situation for an all wheel drive vehicle, as the ability to leave a stop and accelerate is the only real performance benefit of AWD. When a vehicle is then moving too quickly for the tire to both brake and steer at the same time, it will understeer. That means it will go straight instead of turning or stopping as the driver has asked it to do. The best case scenario here is that the vehicle slides into a curb.
Let’s assume that the damage is the most common type, where just the wheel and tire are damaged and require replacement. A quick glance at the Canadian Tire tire fitment online tool shows that this particular tire size in an all season model has a retail price that ranges from $378 to $551 depending on brand and model. Those painted 20″ wheels, as you noted, are also expensive. The retail price of those wheels according to fordparts.com is a whopping $1,501.08 EACH!
Bear in mind, that the potential cost is higher if you damage a control arm, strut or human. These are all common end results in this situation.
So lets recap that – you have suggested a $900 cost for Winter tires. That number is likely on the low side, however, let’s use that as an example. That is a $900 insurance policy to prevent you from having to pay $2,000 for one wheel and tire.
While we all hope that we don’t have to use our car insurance, this particular form of insurance is one that you will use every time you drive during the Winter months.
As for what to do at the end of three years, that is simple. Kijiji is your friend. Depending on how much you have driven, your take-off Winter tires will still have some life in them, which means they have value. Winter tires can be seen on classified listings commonly for anywhere from $200-500 depending on condition.
If you were on the fence about buying proper Winter tires, I hope this sways you towards the safe side. If you know someone who uses the “they are too expensive” argument, then please pass this along.