Looking for Cheap Winter Tires? Here’s How to Find the Right Ones on Craigslist

If you’re in the market for winter tires, then there are a few routes you can take. You could buy brand new snow tires and have them mounted to your rims. But even though sites like Tire Rack offer package deals where new rims are discounted, that’ll add up to nearly a grand. If you’re like me, that’s too much money. So here’s a three-step process for finding a cheap set of winter tires by using Craigslist.

Acura TSX Bolt Pattern On Wheel
Acura TSX Bolt Pattern On Wheel | Taylor Martin

Step one: find out your vehicle’s bolt pattern and size

First up, you’ll want to visit the website TireSize, where you can also find the bolt pattern for your car by simply plugging in the vehicle model and year. For my 2012 Acura TSX SportWagon, the number that pops up is 5×4.5″ (or 5×114.3mm). This determines that my car uses five lug nuts, and that the space between the center of one lug nut to the outer edge of the furthest lug nut (which in my case, is 4.5 inches).

For cars with an even number of lug nuts, it’s much simpler to measure the distance of the bolt pattern. Just go from the center of one lug nut to the center of the lug nut across from it. Though, if you know your vehicle’s make and model, it’s certainly simpler to just plug it in.

Step two: use the bolt pattern size to find winter tires on Craigslist

Winter Tires On Craigslist
Winter Tires On Craigslist | Craigslist

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Now that you have the number, head to Craigslist and plug it in. In my case, I’m searching for 4×4.5″ (or you can search by the measurement in millimeters, which sometimes yields different results). Obviously, the further north you live, the easier it’ll be to find used winter tires for sale. But I’d suggest searching within a 30 to 50 mile radius (although, if you’re a road tripper like me, 100 miles isn’t too much to ask).

I had to expand my search, but 80 miles from my house are these like new all-terrain/winter tires fit for a Ford Ranger. They’re not all the same tire, but it’s two and two, which means traction will be equally distributed (I wouldn’t recommend having three of one tire and two of another). And the whole set will cost me $250 which, for a set of tires, is an absolute steal.

So you drive on up, buy your new wheels, stuff them in your trunk, and drive home. Great! But there are a few things you probably should’ve looked at before buying the tires. And things you need to consider.

Step three, take everything into account and repeat every few years

BMW With Winter Tires Driving Through Snow
BMW With Winter Tires Driving Through Snow | Getty Images

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For starters, it’s crucial that you look at the tires, how wide they are, how tall they are, and make sure they’ll fit in your wheel wells. You don’t want the rubber to rub against the arches, as that’ll only wear the tire faster. Likewise, if you do get a tire that’s bigger than what’s already on your car, other things will be affected.

For instance, your speedometer won’t be accurate. If you get a snow tire that’s half an inch taller than the original wheel, it’ll make the car go faster without pushing the gas pedal as much. So watch your speed, not the speedo, to make sure you aren’t going too fast.

And because you’re buying a used snow tire, chances are you’ll have to replace it every couple of years. Let’s assume you use it from November to February, that’s four months. And if the average person drives about 15,000 miles, that’s about 3,750 miles every winter. Check the tire tread frequently, and when you need a new set, buy a new set.

In short, you can either buy a set of new rubber for $1,000 every 10 years, or a set of used tires for $200 every two years. At the end of the day, you’re not saving money, but you’re accumulating more tire rims. And if you slip too far down the rabbit hole, you might start fitting your car with racing tires…

Not that I’d advocate for such silly behavior… that’d be ridiculous.

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