By G. E. Shuman
Dear Readers, I first published this column a few years ago, but it seems to be that time again.
There are parts of the usual ritual of fall that I don’t really mind… and then there are snow tires. “Tucking in” for fall is just something I do every year; checking the house for leaks around the outside doors, removing window air conditioners, arranging for fuel deliveries, and so on. And then there are snow tires. I just hate snow tires.
I realize, and I appreciate, the fact that we have these special tires to make driving here in the north at least a bit less life-threatening, but there is no way that getting those things put on my cars every year is anything less than miserable. Firstly, every year you have to figure out where the best place is to mount them. (I know, you mount them on your wheels. Ha Ha. I mean, what garage is the best place to have them mounted AT.) I have sometimes had tires mounted, and the first time on the highway realize that someone forgot to put a wheel weight on. Oh darn. Silly garage man. This is not a big deal, unless you think it’s a big deal making another appointment at the garage, and then waiting and waiting for your weight, as the man runs back and forth from balancing your tire to pumping gas for someone, to answering the phone while ringing up beer and potato chips for a guy standing at the checkout in the garage’s attached convenience store.
One factor in choosing a garage is the price they will charge for installing the tires, but this is not the only factor. (Please see the previous paragraph.) One other factor is the time it takes to get the job done. A local car dealership (I will mention no names here) that I have paid in the past to swap my tires, keeps you waiting in their waiting-and-waiting room, for at least two hours. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are having your engine replaced or a light bulb changed… it just always takes at least two hours. They do have a nice TV to watch, but I’d rather spend a day on my couch than on theirs. I think that a lot of car dealerships are this way. Maybe they think that you will just decide: “Well, since I’m sitting on this nice couch, watching this nice TV, surrounded by all of these nice, shiny, new showroom cars (which are evidently watching the nice TV with me,) I might as well buy one, so that this is not a complete waste of my time.” I really do think those dealership people think that way.
This fall there are three cars in my driveway… which means that there were three tire appointments to make, and 12 chances for a wrongly-balanced tire, and 12 more chances that one of them won’t hold air or have some other dumb, irritating, and time-consuming problem. Not to seem pessimistic, but this means that I have at least 24 chances of having to take one of the cars in to have a tire looked at, again. What better odds could there be than that? Fortunately, this year I have a plan. The plan is called ‘my son.’ I’m not the kind of dad who feels that he has ‘paid his dues,’ and that it’s someone else’s turn to do some of the dirty, tedious jobs. That is, I’m not that kind of dad… until it comes to snow tires. In the case of those things, it’s payback time for Dad. This year I may just not be the one to lug snow tires up from the basement and wait in some waiting room ‘til my hair turns gray. (It’s a bit late for that, anyway.) Truthfully, I really do hate snow tires.
Spring will, hopefully, be here before we know it. So will the time to spend another 50 dollars or so to have those ol’ snow tires removed again, from EACH car. I have recently heard a saying I had never heard before. It is that “The outcome of a rain dance has a lot to do with timing.” That has nothing to do with the subject of snow tires, but I thought it was profound, and wanted to share it with you (Minds tend to wander with advancing age). I will say that your snow tire changeover has a least a little to do with timing, but more to do with where you take your car. I think the best place for me to take my car this year is somewhere in Florida.