SPOKANE, Wash. - If you have a new car or truck and plan to buy tires soon, it could cost you more than you bargained for. Instead of dropping $500 to $600 for new snow tires, you could spend closer to $900. And it's all because of the government.
The federal government has mandated that all cars, 2008 or newer, have tire pressure monitoring sensors (TPMS) in their tires. The sensors monitor the air pressure inside of your tires and, when it's low, warns the driver with a buzzer or flashing light on the dash.
There are a couple of different ways to ensure your car is updated with the sensors.
1.) Most newer cars already have the sensors in the wheels so you can just switch out the car's regular tires for snow tires. Perfection Tire Co-owner Jeremy Dierks said this costs about $65 bucks for all four tires ($15 a tire). This way will save you money in the short term, however, you will have to pay that amount again when you switch the snow tires back to regular tires.
2.) You can also pay for a new set of sensors to go into the snow tires. That could cost you a lot more up front since the sensors can cost anywhere from $60 to $200 per tire.
Is the cost for a new set of sensors worth it?
Dierks said "They do come in handy? As far as the answer to the question: 'why can't we check them the old way?' That's the million dollar question. I really wish it was that simple. I don't know why they came up with them. They do come in handy and I don't know about life-saving. I imagine so. But I've definitely seen a lot of tires saved by them."
If you decide to switch the sensors from a regular set of tires to snow tires, Dierks said, many times the sensors have to be re-set. However, that shouldn't typically cost any more money.
US Department of Transportation: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/facts-research/systems-technology/product-guide...
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/rulings/tpmsnprmpost2cir/tpmsnprmpost2ci...