Snow Tires: Extra Set of Wheels or Annual Remount?

If you're running snow tires during the winter weather months, you are using one of two methods to swap your summer tires for winter tires twice a year. There are pluses and minuses to both of them, and the answer comes down to personal preference for the most part.

The first method involves buying an extra set of steel wheels for your car and having your snow tires permanently mounted on these wheels.

Twice a year you'll jack up the four corners of your car or truck and swap the entire wheel and tire assembly. The main benefits of this method involve cost and convenience. Swapping them yourself is free, and you don't have to spend an hour or more in the tire shop waiting room to get it done. The only downside to this method is the initial cost, which is slightly higher because you need to buy the extra set of steel rims to mount your snow tires on.

The second method is the semi-annual swap. The only thing you need to buy with this method are the snow tires themselves. You'll then have your snow tires mounted and balanced on your car's existing wheels for winter, and then remount and balance your summer tires at the end of the snowy season. My local tire shop charges $10 per wheel for mounting and balancing. You don't have to buy the extra set of steel wheels for snow tire mounting with this method, but you will pay more in labor as you have a set of tires mounted and balanced twice a year.

Both methods have their merits. Some also argue that since you only get a few seasons our of your snow tires, you'll be paying labor charges even with the spare wheels method when the snow tires wear out. It's up to you to decide what works for you. Regardless of your routine, if you live in a region that sees significant snowfall, all-season tires are a poor compromise when it comes to your family's safety.

Snow tires are a must in our family.