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For reasons described below, I'm considering getting two sets of wheels (tires+rims) and swapping them back and forth pretty often (every few weeks, up to 10-20 times a year). I'm wondering whether this will cause any issues or problems, like maybe premature wear of wheel studs or something else?

Context: I live in San Francisco, it doesn't usually snow here during the winter and all-season tires are appropriate year-round. But I take a few short skiing trips every winter. On these trips, it would be very convenient to have snow tires, because roads are often covered in snow. After returning home from a trip, snow tires are no longer appropriate (they don't handle as well in warm climate and will wear out quickly). So I'm considering changing to winter wheels before each trip, and changing back to summer wheels after each trip. Each trip lasts 3-7 days, and in the winter I do maybe 5-10 of these (one trip every few weeks). I'm a bit worried that changing wheels that often would be somehow bad for the car. I drive a Toyota Camry in case it's important.

  • It should not be, but I would advise use a torque wrench to avoid over tightening – method Sep 23 '16 at 22:21
  • +1 for torque wrench. It is definitely possible to overtighten wheels which will subtly stretch the studs, and if they're alloy rims will slowly dig the nut mating surface. Steel rims would be a better choice if you can find a set. Don't forget your spare - three snow and one summer tyre could make for an exciting trip. – Criggie Oct 19 '16 at 9:31
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Not a direct answer, but an alternative is to take a look at the tire chain laws for the states you plan on travelling through (just Google for relevant states or call the local info number, it's easy to find out), and, assuming you are allowed to use them, just carry a set of chains in your trunk and throw them on when you get to the snowy mountain areas. In my experience most states with snowy mountain areas are pretty open to chains.

There are alternatives to chains, too, like the Spikes-Spider systems and such.

That way you can keep your all-season tires on, not bother with changing, they're easy to put on and take off and you can use them only when needed. Also, they'll get you through pretty gnarly conditions compared to winter tires. Plus they're not all that expensive, and they'll last through multiple sets of tires.

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I don't think there would be any problem, save for the hassle of all of the changing. You'd want to be careful of all of the usual things - safety, accurately torquing the lug nuts, maybe keeping track of which side the wheels go on (I think this is especially important if you use studs).

For all of the hassle and the cost of a set of wheels, you might want to accept the wear and tear on the tires between trips. But if you want to do it, it should be fine from the car's point of view.

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I wouldn't do it to my vehicle, but changing wheels wouldn't wear out your studs unless you cross-thread lugnuts or overtighten them. Most of the wear should be on the lugnuts from tightening/loosening them, but lug nuts can be replaced for under $2 each.

Can't you get a cheap rental with snow tires rather than buy a set of snow tires, an extra set of rims and going through all these changeovers?

  • Is there some specific problem you worry about (since you don't want to do this to your vehicle)? I gave wheel studs as just an example. Or is it that changing wheels that often just doesn't "seem right" (like it doesn't to me)? – J. Skier Sep 24 '16 at 1:25
  • I thought about renting, but couldn't really find anything. I'd appreciate any suggestions on where to look. Basically, I live in San Francisco and mostly ski in the Sierra mountains. Rental cars in SF will of course have all-season tires. Places where I ski are mostly small towns without a lot of services (like car rental); plus, you need to drive on snowy roads to get there in the first place. I've looked at a few "sport/specialty car rentals", but there aren't a lot of these, they are expensive and are booked very far in advance. – J. Skier Sep 24 '16 at 1:37
  • I just hate jacking cars up, most don't have proper jacking points for a floor jack and jackstands, so I always end up slightly bending the underside of the car a little bit more. :) – tlhIngan Sep 24 '16 at 17:15

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