Snow began falling in Billings Monday evening for the first time this year, and local tire shops are seeing a sudden surge in business as customers switch to winter tires.
LP Anderson in downtown Billings has had a busy past couple of days, as customers attempted to have their vehicles prepared for the winter roads. It's something that General Manager Jared McDermott has grown accustomed to.
“It’s the same scenario every year," McDermott said. "The first snowstorm of the season we just get completely buried. It’s kind of the yearly ritual to get everyone's snow tires on as fast as we can."
McDermott said it's important to swap out your tires, as winter tires are specifically built for driving in these conditions. All-weather tires aren't designed for temperatures below 45 degrees.
“So, when you move to a true all-weather tire or even better, an actual winter-rated tire, the structure of the tire is different," McDermott said. "So they really are optimized for the weather conditions we have now."
But those snow tires will cost more this year. Inflation has taken its toll on just about everything, including the tire business. McDermott estimates that tire prices have gone up between 20 and 40 percent, depending on the brand.
“Inflation has driven the price up tremendously over the past couple years, and it can be a hardship for people to have two sets of tires,” McDermott said.
McDermott also said that safety is a price worth paying.
“What I like to tell people is if you get a set of snow tires it’s usually less expensive than your insurance deductible when you get in a wreck or end up in a ditch,” McDermott said.
And while the right set of tires certainly helps, McDermott said nothing makes up for cautious driving on icy roads.
“When you put winter tires on your car it’s not a magic bullet," McDermott said. "You still need to be cautious out there."