Ignore the tape!
Photo: Erik Shilling

On Sunday, I logged on to the Internet and eventually spent $463.96 on four Michelins for my 2008 Honda Fit, which needs them. On Friday, when they get here, I’ll get them mounted and balanced, and get the alignment done as well. As soon as I drive away from the shop, though, my car will begin getting worse again, as it ambles toward death.

This is not to say that the car is anywhere close. I just crossed 60,000 miles, and the engine and transmission are in solid shape. There’s very little rust, which I’m surprised about since the Fit’s spent its entire life in the northeast. It’s a little loud in the cabin, but that’s to be expected on a small car like the Fit.

And, indeed, there’s more work to be done, if I opt for it. The cover of the rear bumper, for example, is partially secured with Gorilla Tape, the victim of a minor accident before I purchased it. The front bumper is in better shape, but is still very dinged up, the victim of too much parallel parking in New York City.

I don’t plan on fixing those two things anytime soon, as they are cosmetic and don’t pose any safety issues. The tires were a different story, though, and winter is coming up. The tires, in particular, posed a bit of a conundrum, one that probably isn’t unfamiliar to readers of this blog. How good did I want them to be? How good did I need them to be? How good could I afford them to be?

The choice was pretty clear: Spend around $500 for a set of “all-season” tires like the Fit originally came with, or spend $1,000 more for winter tires, summer tires, and new wheels. In the long-term, those costs might be mitigated, since the treads on both sets of tires would wear at a slower rate than the all-seasons, but in the short-term the costs would hurt. Having separate sets of winter and summer tires would also maximize grip in each season, something that isn’t so important for me in the summer, as I tend to drive pretty conservatively on public roads, but in the winter would give me enhanced stopping power on snow and ice.

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The downsides? The short-term costs, for one, and I make a blogger’s salary, so that wasn’t nothing. I also don’t have a place to store 200 pounds of rubber and metal for when I’m not using it, since I live in a shoebox in New York City and park on the street, unlike my co-worker, Fancy Ballaban, who always berates me for not getting winter tires like himself, even though he also lives in a New York City shoebox but pays exorbitant amounts to park his car in a garage. I also only drive once or twice a week, and that’s usually just to move my car across the street for alternate-side parking, meaning I might put 40,000 miles on my car in the next 10 years at most, a majority of it at very low speeds. Whatever tires I bought will likely be dead eventually because of age and not treadwear, and did I want to double that loss?

The winter tire partisans will argue that, yes, they are always worth it, and that body repair work also tends to be more expensive than tires, but I genuinely struggled with the decision because, like I said, I drive slowly, the Fit is hardly a sports car in need of More Performance, and when it snows outside I hardly drive at all.

I also have a pile of student loans that need paying, and New York City is in a weird in-between when it comes to climate, as it’s not, say, Quebec, where winter tires are required, nor is it Los Angeles.

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So I got the all seasons. Which, yes, some people call no seasons, since they’re not that great in the summer or winter, but they are merely adequate at both. I got a set of Michelin Premier A/S tires, to be exact, about which Michelin says, “Sunflower Oil keeps the EverGrip™ Compound flexible in lower temperatures along with many tread blocks and sipes that act as biting edges to cut through the snow.”

I’m choosing to believe every word of that against my better judgment because for a beat-up old city car that I drive like James May and a bank account that always needs refilling, they will have to do.