Monday, March 12, 2012
Finding the Perfect Solution At Last
My car will have it's 15th birthday sometime this fall and although it has quite a few scratches and dents, it has no body rust and still runs well. The muffler and exhaust system have been patched up over the years, I had the transmission rebuilt about three years ago and I recently replaced the extremely clouded headlight assemblies (that is another story in itself) with new ones but overall my car has a lot of life left in it. Since it is essentially worth more to me than it would be worth to someone else wanting to buy it, I keep driving it as my commuter car and retain it as a spare.
The one hitch is that I replaced the tires here about a year and a half ago and the set I put on were terrible in the winter. My car handled about as well as a hog on ice whenever there was any kind of winter precipitation on the road. Because my driveway intersects the road in the middle of a hill, it made things challenging to get into and out of my driveway at times. Not to mention that it just wasn't safe for me to be out on the road having problems with other cars right on the bumper of my car. So I sought out solutions.
I didn't consider tire chains because here in the land of moderate winter when the roads are frequently bare during winter for days at a stretch, I didn't want to be taking them on or off. I did consider buying an old set of tires and having them studded but then I found out that you have to have special tires that can be studded or come pre-studded. With this option, I would have to listen to that distinctive clack of the studs on dry pavement quite often and on just wet surfaces, something we have quite often in winter, studded tires actually would be worse as far as braking is concerned. The best option seemed to buy a dedicated pair of winter tires with softer tread. On a recommendation from a friend, I bought a pair of Blizzak tires.
Since I don't have the machine it takes to seat a bead on the rims, I took it in and paid to have my old(new) tires removed and the new Blizzak ones mounted and balanced. It is not terribly expensive compared to the cost of the tires but having to do it twice a year plus having to schedule the appointment and figuring out how to get to and from work would be a pain. But the good news was that the tires handle like a dream in crappy conditions, all three or four days of them that we have had this winter. The tread on them is so soft, I can actually push it in with little finger force, that is just sticks to the ice/snow and takes me where ever I want to go in relative safety. The price you pay is that the soft tread only lasts for about 15,000 miles and then you need new Blizzak tires.
I had one spare rim from my wife's old car that used the same rims as mine so I kept my eyes open for another rim to go with it all winter. Nobody seemed to have any. Finally last week when it was 72 degrees and I was sitting in the park watching my daughter play, I thought about the situation again and called the circuit of junk yards near me once again. The second place I called had just received four in on a recently junked car. A half hour later I had another rim for $30 and had dropped both rims and both old(new) tires off at the tire dealer to be mounted and balanced. Now I can change them over for my labor cost which is very cheap these days and about fifteen minutes of labor whenever I desire and shouldn't have to pay for the privilege ever again. Since my Blizzak tires will probably only see at most a couple thousand miles of use a winter, they will probably last the life of the car because I can't really see me having it when it turns 23 years old. At the rate it is holding up I might but I'm not going to bet on it.