Should You Get a Second Set of Rims and Tires for Winter?

Seasonal changes bring different challenges, and Canadian winters are no exception. Many drivers will mount their winter tires before the first frost and swap them for all-season or summer tires after the spring thaw. Others will opt for an entirely separate set of rims and tires for winter. But is this really necessary?

A second set of rims comes with advantages and disadvantages. Winter tires, however, are crucial. While all-season tires offer a good compromise for many road situations, they’re not suitable for Canadian winters. For cold-weather traction and safety, you need winter tires. Here’s why:

  • Winter tires are made of softer rubber, so they remain pliable in cold weather for better traction.
  • Winter tires have more aggressive tread blocking grips for snow and slush. Their multiple sipes offer traction, even on ice.

Second Set of Wheels and Tires – Advantages

  • Tire life – Mounting tires involves stretching them over the outer lip of the rim, which strains the tire. Every time your tires are mounted and dismounted, this increases the chance of tire damage. Mounting tires on their own set of rims eliminates this wear.
  • Rim life – Rims take a beating in winter, since the sand and salt on the road accelerate corrosion and damage the finish. Steel rims, usually a third of the price of fancy alloy rims, are easily refinished, and you won’t feel as bad when they start pitting and rusting.
  • Convenience – To install your winter wheels, you only need a few tools. If you want a professional to install them for you, it’s a much shorter appointment than mounting a set of tires.

Second Set of Wheels and Tires – Disadvantages

  • Initial cost – Many drivers balk at the initial investment, which includes new steel rims, new TPMS sensors, and lug nuts. Still, it will save you money in the long term.
  • TPMS – Each direct TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) sensor reports tire pressure and temperature to the vehicle. Each sensor’s unique ID code needs to be programmed into the vehicle. Some vehicles have a “Main/2nd” switch, but others need to be reprogrammed every time the sensors are swapped. Tire shops and dealers can do this, and affordable tools are available for DIYers.
  • Storage – You’ll need room to store the off-season set, which are heavier but take up the same amount of space as dismounted tires. Store your off-season set somewhere clean, dark, and dry.
  • Transportation – Because mounted tires and rims are heavier, they can be more difficult to transport. Getting them in the back of a small sedan can be challenging and could damage the inside of your vehicle. Moving blankets and tire totes offer great transport protection.

One thing you can’t compromise on is safety. Winter tires are an absolute must once temperatures drop below freezing, especially for ice, snow, and slush. Mounting your winter tires on a second set of rims makes it easier to switch back and forth when the time comes.

Check out all the seasonal maintenance services available at any of our 600 NAPA AUTOPRO locations for your car routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on getting a second set of rims, chat with an expert at your local NAPA AUTOPRO service centre.

Benjamin Jerew