Winter tires vs minus-one wheels and winter tires
October 19, 2022 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Should I get winter tires, or minus-one wheels and winter tires?

The new WRX is a delight in all ways but came with summer Dunlops and I live in metro Buffalo, so I need winter tires. I'm trying to figure out the "tires only vs wheels and tires" thing as I am not originally a yankee type person.

Option one: A set of blizzaks on my stock 18x8.5 rims all-in for ~$1100.

Option two: Tirerack says a set of cheap 17" alloys, tpms's, and blizzaks for ~$1800; these were among the cheapest wheels that showed up thru tirerack. Tirerack didn't offer me steelies and I'm not sure I'd want steelies on the car from Very Soon through sometime in April.

The car guy I trust said that I'd be unlikely to notice any difference between 18s vs 17s, but I figured I might as well if I was getting new rims.

Anyway, my assumption is that the tradeoff is that buying rims will mean I only have to pay for getting the wheels put on twice a year (or buy a proper jack and torque wrench/gun) instead of getting tires mounted and balanced twice a year.

How long does it usually take to have rims pay for themselves? Looking like maybe two years? I will admit that after the summers and winters wear out I'm thinking of going to all-seasons or all-weathers **IF** the snow removal on my new commute route from Clarence is up to the usual local excellence.

If I just get new tires, do I need to put them in a rack or can I just set them on their treads on the garage or basement floor and rotate them a bit every month/paycheck?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'd view the winter tires as part of the fun - you have a rally bred machine, right? I think winter tires are about both snow/ice as well as temperature - winter tires are designed to operate in the cold, for which Buffalo definitely qualifies! Anyways, more to your question - I'd be inclined to cheap 17's to have more sidewall to absorb the dirt-road potholes and to spare damage to your stock wheels - someone on reddit pointed out that you're more likely to curb your wheels in winter if the snow is on the deeper side, you just can't see as well - so spare your stock wheels the damage.

Lastly, tires are important to a car like this - I wouldn't transition to all seasons, I'd continue to do summer/winter. It'll cost more but, like high-hundreds. Don't splash out for a WRX and short yourself on tires.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 8:01 AM on October 19, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Minor point but I don't think you really need a torque wrench for wheel lug nuts although you might want to invest in a nicer lug wrench if the stock one is sized for emergency use. For storage, on rims or not, I'd just stack them up.
posted by achrise at 8:22 AM on October 19, 2022

Best answer: Mounting and balancing four tires costs around a hundred bucks if you pay someone to do it (where I live, at least, and with regular-sized tires), while a floor jack and an electric torque wrench from brands you've heard of will run $300ish.

Not really a math guy but I'll take a stab at it:

Blizzaks, 17" wheels, jack and wrench: $2100 to start
Blizzaks on stock rims: $1200 to start, plus $200/year equals $2100 in 4 1/2 years

It sounds like you'll break even on the winter wheels in the fourth year of ownership. If the price of mechanic service goes up, or if you use the jack and wrench for anything else (maybe owning a floor jack is the thing that nudges you to start changing your own oil or something), it might be sooner than that.

(As noted above, there's also the part where your high-performance car will perform better with dedicated winter tires.)
posted by box at 8:41 AM on October 19, 2022

Best answer: I run a -1 fitment -steelies-with winter tires on my older Legacy and am happy with that. Tire rack wouldn't sell me steelies as the TPMS sensors they offer are incompatable with them. I just fibbed and told them that I needed a winter tire/rim combo for an earlier pre-tmps model year car and deal with the tmps light being on. I feel much safer with winter tires and "check your own tire pressure" than all seasons on oem rims.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 11:26 AM on October 19, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Please don't stop answering for the benefit of future people, but I've ordered some blizzaks for the stock wheels as the dealership had them for $950 installed.

After talking with a gearhead + scooby-driving colleague, I'll spend the next couple-few years half-assedly looking for a used set of nice-looking minus-one wheels instead of limiting myself to whatever's available right now.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:14 PM on October 19, 2022

Best answer: I'll spend the next couple-few years half-assedly looking for a used set of nice-looking minus-one wheels

Or, keep an eye out for someone selling stock wheels because they upgraded to some fancy racing wheels, and then put summer tires on one set and keep your winter tires on the other. I say this just because sometimes you can find really cheap stock wheels, cheaper than aftermarket.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:36 PM on October 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That too!
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:53 PM on October 19, 2022

I had a 2002 WRX that I drove in the Tahoe snow for years. I had a set of snows on cheap -1 alloys that I swapped. It was drastically less hassle than dealing with getting tires remounted twice a year. IIRC, typical steelies wouldn't fit over the brake calipers.

Blizzaks are kind of squishy and squirrely on dry pavement (or at least they were 10-15 years ago), but lovely on hardpack snow and ice. I much preferred a more traditional snow tire for the conditions that I regularly drove in, which involved more deep snow than hard ice, and had plenty of sunny, dry days.
posted by toxic at 6:41 PM on October 19, 2022

One thing to know for anyone who is considering a tire size or rim size change, or both: The readout of your speedometer could change.

Your car determines MPH or KPH by the diameter of your rim + wheel.

There is a factory setting of your speedometer that knows this diameter. If your new rim + wheel is smaller than your factory size rim + wheel, like moving from a 225/70R16 tire to an 225/65R16 tire on the same rim, your speedometer readouts will be lower than actual (in this example, about 2 MPH lower at 60 MPH).

Similarly, a larger than factory size rim + wheel, like an equal but opposite jump from a 225/65R16 to a 225/70R16 would result in about a 2 MPH higher readout at 60 MPH.

The impact of these differences (2 MPH) is largely meh in real-world impact. But it's at least interesting to think about.

You can play around with the numbers in this calculator.
posted by mr_bovis at 8:42 AM on October 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

« Older van conversion guidance   |   Games like Hollow Knight but not? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments