Do we get snow and ice in Indiana? Considering purchasing snow tires for your Benz? What are the alternatives and what are the risks? Consider getting snow tires through mail order, because they come prebalanced and mounted on your choice of rims and they may be less expensive than local stores. The cheapest method is to buy steel rims and get plastic wheel covers that simulate the original equipment (OE) alloy rims. More expensive but more aesthetically pleasing is to get another set of alloy OE rims and mount the snow tires on them. It is highly recommended to get 4 snow tires and not just two for the rear wheels, since you not only need traction to go, but to stop and to steer too! Of course if you get mail order wheels and tires, you will likely have to pay to have them swapped with your current set on your vehicle. Do-It-Yourselfers can save a few bucks here.
A warning about wear. Snow tires do work and they work wonders when pushing through heavy snow, but there is a price to pay, i.e. they are made of softer rubber compounds and do not last very long. If you do get snow tires, I would recommend using them during the 3 winter months only and use your regular tires the rest of the year. Where to find mail order companies? Look in the Star magazine or in other car magazines such as Car and Driver, Automobile or Road and Track. I have a better idea. Choose the wheel and tire combination you want, take the ad with the lowest price and go down to your favorite tire store. Ask if they will meet or beat the price listed and you may be surprised. Be sure to factor in the cost of shipping and mounting to make a fair comparison.
Want to know a truly cheap alternative? Don't buy snow tires, just get 3, 40 lb bags of sand and place them in your trunk. Note: This much extra weight at the rear can have a negative effect on handling in certain situations so do so only at your own risk.
One last safety point. There simply isn't a tire made that can stop a car on solid ice, so please be careful and give yourself plenty of room this Winter season. Happy and SAFE motoring to you all.
Steven Rae, Technical Advisor