Spare steel wheels for winter tires a good deal

When changing to winter tires, is it recommended to buy a set of rims or just remove the summer tires and use the same rims?

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Q: When changing to winter tires, is it recommended to buy a set of rims or just remove the summer tires and use the same rims?

When re-installing the all-season tires, will the bead be as good?

Larry Smokorowski, Toronto

AThere is no one correct answer to this question, it is a matter of economics. First of all, if the tire is installed with the proper equipment, the bead will be fine. Modern radials are very strong and have extra reinforcement in the bead area.

Most cars today run on 16-inch tires. A typical changeover using your OE wheel would be $20 a tire, including installation, balancing and a new valve.

So the cost is $80 twice a year. If you keep the car for five years, you have spent $800 on tire changes.

The same changeover costs if the winter tires are already mounted on spare steel wheels is $30 for the whole job, or $60 a year, for a five-year total of $300.

Sixteen-inch steel wheels typically cost $69, for a total of $276.

Ignoring the outlay for installing winter tires, the cost of using OE wheels at the end of year one is $160, year two $320, year three $480, year four $640 and $800 at the end of year five.

The comparable cost for buying and using steel wheels: year one $306, year two $366, year three $426, year four $486 and year five $546.

So you can see that if you keep your car for longer periods, it is cheaper to use spare wheels.

Q I bought a 2005 Pontiac Vibe, with a standard transmission, in February 2005. Mechanically it’s wonderful and handles great, but it will be my last GM vehicle (we also have a 2000 Pontiac Montana that we love).

My Vibe has only 26,000 km on it, but needs new front tires. I feel this obviously indicates a defect.

Online forums advise that wear issues have surfaced in the U.S. Apparently a special shim kit is available to help with the alignment. GM Canada told me that was the situation only in the U.S. They said I should have done a tire rotation every 10,000 km. Well, who does that?

Our Montana has had only two tire rotations, and the tires are fine.

I said I didn’t expect full compensation, but felt that GM should meet me halfway. Their answer was no: I did not do my tire rotation, so GM will do nothing for me. This will be my last North American car.

Pauline McCahery, Brampton

AYou are caught in the twilight zone of warranty issues. There are tire wear issues with the Vibe; they cannot deny that. You are correct; the GM dealership should do something for you, if you had the car serviced there.

At a minimum, they should sell you two new tires at cost. That is no skin off their backs.

However, they can hide behind the rotation issue. This is a common out for tire wear concerns. You might ask them why they did not notice the uneven wear before the tires were fully worn out.

Tire rotation is important. You’re right that most people don’t do it. But for the short time and cost involved, it is worth it to gain some extra wear from the rubber. Many independent tire dealers will even do free rotations if you bought the tires from them.

Q I was looking for something to replace my three-year-old Blizzak WS-50s and was about to go for some Continental Viking Contact 3s when I noticed a comment on a U.S. police fleet manager site that mentioned something called Green Diamond Tires.

I had not heard of these.

The website is pretty sparse (

The idea seems good, given our out-of-date laws with respect to studded tires. I do a lot of driving on ice.

Rick Kwasnicki, Shelbourne

AThe info on these Green Diamond tires is very scarce, so I cannot assist you as to their quality or performance. The tires have hard grit embedded in the rubber. You should note that these tires are basically retreads.

They use old casings and apply this new tread rubber with the grit embedded. Retreading car tires is now virtually gone from the marketplace, due to quality control problems.

So my question would be, if the quality and concept are good, why not apply them to a brand new tire? It is just not cost effective to use old cast-off casings if you x-ray each one to make sure it is sound before you reuse it.

I would stick to a name-brand tire with a company’s reputation behind it. You may want to look at the Gislaved as well as the Viking. If you were happy with the Blizzak multicell compound product, consider it again along with the Yokohama Ice Guard.

Email tire questions to John Mahler at thetireguy_1

Please include vehicle’s make, model and year, tire size, brand and your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited. Letter volumes prevents personal replies.

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