The price of changing snow tires with TPMS...OH MY!

I hope I am posting in the right place…
I drive a 2013 Nissan ALtima. It has TPMS, which I know can be great, but it is a “bell and whistle” I find I really wish I didn’t have right now.
I also just moved to a neighborhood in the Southern Tier of NY State, which has a few slopes and hills that among the last to be plowed.
So, I left my place in the early evening, and came back – unable to get up the hill with about 2 inches of packed, but unplowed or salted snow. My husband said that I was probably panicking and giving the car too much gas. I conceded, and he finally conceded that yes, I probably would do better, in general, with snow tires.
I hunted down a deal, but then realized that I would be paying almost $200/year to change tires! I read through some car talk posts, and saw that a lot of people have never used snows, they have only used really high quality all seasons and done fine.
So, I have been obsessing about tires… do I bite the bullet for the snows, even though I don’t really do all that much driving? Do I get some highly rated Perelli all seasons? Another highly rated all season? I understand that the particular Continnentals that come with my car are not well rated for snow.

So, please… I would love some opinions and I will even take tips for driving in the snow in general. A thousand bucks for tires, tpms sensors, wheels topped by the exorbitant fees the dealer charges ( they say $ 22/ tire, even if they are already on wheels!), topped off with we just bought a “move in ready” home that is anything BUT…I’d really like to be able to just get some good all seasons, that handle well in snow (in general, if no one has plowed yet in the city, and the snow is very deep, I can get away with not driving).

I know there are people in the North East (or elsewhere) who will have their own stories, and help me to sort this out… :slight_smile:

well I don t have much for you except…

go slowly, leave early, and if you feel unsafe in a snow situation, especially in faster than safe traffic, you probably are right and are not safe.

the road you are on may be fine, but the road that you must turn onto may be a sheet of ice. so go slow. easy does it.

unless you are about to get stuck, then damn the torpedoes, fullspeed ahead!

oh, and good tires are essential!

Try Tire Rack, for tire comparisons. Tire Rack’s price for 4 mounted snow tires will be much cheaper than the dealer.

Ed B.

What’s your current tread depth? As these are your original tires, I suspect it’s not great at this point, which is probably the biggest issue here. Although winter tires are definitely more capable and safer, in your area, you can probably get by with all-season tires that have good survey results for snow on Tire Rack’s web site and that have no less than 6/32 tread depth (although more is preferable).

Since you ask for tips, I’ll ask if you know the proper technique for getting up a slippery hill. You need to be driving at the fastest possible safe speed when you start up the hill (although of course this is difficult if the road or street isn’t straight). Then you need to do everything you can to keep moving steadily without slowing down. Usually this means your wheels will spin all the way up and you’ll be making quick steering adjustments to keep the car pointed straight. In some cars, the traction control system will reduce power to spinning wheels so much that you lose your overall momentum and stop on the hill, in which case you need to try turning off the traction control system.

Just don’t get the TPMS for the snows! A cursory check says TPMS not required for NY inspection. And even if it were, simply make sure to show up for inspection with the “all season” tires on.

Yes, the light will remain illuminated all winter. So what? TPMS is mandated for SELLERS of new cars; there is zero mandate for OWNERS of cars.

If your husband can drive the car up the slope have him show you how he does it . Even at 1000 for snow tires all the way around that is only 500 more than what your deductible might be after you crash ( no injury I would hope ) .

Hi Dara, I live in the snowy part of Connecticut have driven 4wd recent years but due to (long story) circumstances am now driving a 2013 front wd VW Passat. I chose Continental snows (I prefer them) and put 4 on the car (cost about$800 total), it handles as well as the 4wd. I have been dealing with Town Fair Tire, If you buy snows from them they do free spring and fall tire changeovers and free flat repair for life. The only thing they charge for is balance, costs me about $60 twice per year. They never mention TPMS sensors and it still works fine. BTW, TPMS is required by the federal government since the Ford Explorer/Firestone Tire problem some years ago. I don’t know where in NY state you are, but unfortunately Town Fair is only in the 6 New England states. Still, you should explore tire store chains in your area and see if there is somebody with a comparable deal. Good luck!

I live in the snow belt of western NY. Down where you are you will get some snow but not as much as we get. NY State does not require TPMS to be operational for your annual inspection so pick up a set of good winter tires on steel wheels without TPMS sensors. The best I have had are the MIchelin X Ice Xi3’s. I also run General Altimax Arctics on my van. They are cheap, wear well, and have very good grip in snow and ice. I also bought a good floor jack for $80 and an electric impact wrench for lug nut removal for another $100. Now changing all season tires over to snow tires is a snap.

I second getting snow tires without TPMS devices in the extra rims. Use the money you save and get a quality dial air gauge and a DC pump for your car. It still doesn’t mean you should not monitor the pressure during the months of the year that show pressure changes. Just ask Bill and Tom. You will learn to live with the light on.

Good Year Eagle Ultra-Grips…These are winter tires you can leave on all year without suffering any penalty…These are the tires the Colorado State Patrol uses on their Police Interceptors and they leave them on year round…

Get the winter tires. My preference is Michelin X-ice. Go to an auto parts store and buy a set of 4 wheels that you feel would look OK on your car. Then the seasonal change over will be much cheaper, $40 or less. You have to pay for mounting and balancing the tires onto the wheels only 1 time. You can decide if you want tpms sensors on the winter tires or not based on cost.

If you want an all season tire which also is rated as a winter tire - the best bet is a Nokian brand tire.

Thanks to everyone who responded and made suggestions. I do want to point out that the quote for tires, sensors and wheels was from The install only is what takes place at the dealership.
I would be absolutely fine with ignoring the TPMS light, but it is my understanding that the sensors are mandatory. I don’t know any mechanics anymore who would just put the tires on, ignoring the law about the light and sensors, and as much as I would like to be a DIY person – when it comes to cars – I guess I am just not that interested or inclined.

Tire rack, as of a few days ago, was able to offer me Blizzaks for $80 each, and I learned of a place that will treat changing from snows back to all seasons as a tire rotation – under $20. That seems more “normal” and affordable than hearing from the dealership that it is $22/tire – whether the tires are on wheels or not.

SOmeone made the excellent point that a thousand bucks is only $500 more than a deductible…I also have to remember (know myself) that I am a native New Yorker, who never really has managed to be a fabulous driver. I need every advantage, because it is also me against the deer around here, and they seem to have excellent traction, no matter what the weather!
This is such a nice community, and I have always been so grateful to the thoughtful advice I receive here.


I would be absolutely fine with ignoring the TPMS light, but it is my understanding that the sensors are mandatory.
Well, then your understanding is wrong! (Not argumentative, just stating fact.)

TPMS applies to two groups: manufacturers and mechanics. Manufacturers cannot SELL (new) w/o TPMS. Mechanics cannot “make inoperative” a TPMS system, even if asked…HOWEVER, putting non-TPMS rim on a TPMS car is NOT “making TPMS inoperative!” Provided the light still illuminates, TPMS is considered to “still be functioning” as it is alerting you to the fact that a) you don’t have TPMS on your current rims, and b) you now need to check pressure manually.

This comes up a LOT, both with snows and with “monster truck” tires. This is a decided point of law. If the dealer STILL refuses to do it, that is due to corporate policy, NOT any “law” (Though firms DO like to falsely claim “the law made me do it” as a way of deflecting blame.)

So…you need to go somewhere other than the dealership. MY chioce would be to look for a tire seller, located in a poorer part of town, that advertizes that they sell “used tires.” Such a store ought to do what you want, no problem. You can choose what snows they have, or have tires “drop-shipped” to them.

if you get a winter tire/wheel package, they will come mounted and balanced and shipped to your door. Just put them on yourself, or have your husband/a friend do it for you. No sense in paying $88 for a simple wheel change that doesn’t even involve balancing.


Does what you are saying also apply to NY State inspections? If I leave the TPMS light on at all times, will my car pass inspections every January, to the best of your knowledge?

To quote the Magic 8-Ball…“My sources say no.”

Meaning, a quick google search shows other NYers saying that–but I do NOT live in NY, so I would seek a more authoritative answer before spending your cash! (Call up an inspection-rated garage, preferably on a slow day, and find out what they say.)

I DO know that in my home state of PA, TPMS is NOT a cause to fail an inspection…but a lot of good that does you, right?

Wow! Thanks again for encouraging me to look for better deals than with the dealership! I found a place that is giving me the same Blizzaks offered on for a better price, and a nice gentleman who has no problem not putting in new sensors. They are very highly rated in my area by many people on Yelp!. So, I am getting a well-rated tire that is a closeout (I believe), and a well-rated business is doing the install, and the changeover back to all seasons and snows going forward, since it will be on rims, is also quite reasonable.
Sometimes a person needs either a gentle push or a swift kick to do better for themselves…thanks for giving me that…truly.

You’re quite welcome. We here always appreciate hearing how things turned out in the Real World!

I would really like to be able to get some good all season tires that handle well in snow

If they made such an animal, no one would buy winter tires. The worse winter tire is better then the best all season tire by a big margin over the life of the tire. All season tires come several 32 inch less tread which in short order, makes them nearly worthless compared to real winter tires. With winter tires, you save money by running both the winter tires and all seasons down to nearly the wear bars. The softer rubber in winter tires is much more forgiving in snow and ice then all season tires as well.

You could get all terrain tires but they could be very noisy or at least compromise handling to all season tires. No short cut…get winters on rims and rotated them. It WILL be cheaper…if you forget the TPMS hardware.