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Patrick Sanfa�on / La Presse (Patrick Sanfa�on/La Presse)
Patrick Sanfa�on / La Presse (Patrick Sanfa�on/La Presse)

You & Your Car

Downsizing your tires for winter can be good idea Add to ...

QUESTION: I recently purchased an AWD V-6 Toyota Venza equipped with P245/50R20 tires. I know that I need to purchase winter tires. To keep costs down, it has been suggested that I purchase 17-inch steel rims and 17-inch snow tires. Your comments and suggestions would be appreciated.


ANSWER: It is not only easier to find and less expensive to buy smaller wheels and tires, but the narrow tread will cut through deep snow more readily so downsizing is a good idea.

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Going to 17-inches is a significant drop, but do-able if the wheels clear the brake rotors, which I suspect will be no problem since those same brakes are used on other Toyota models with smaller wheels.

The Venza comes with both 19- and 20-inch wheels depending on model. The first step down would be to 18-inch wheels and tires, say 235/65-18 or 245/60-18. Since keeping overall tire diameter within 2 per cent or so is the most important factor, the move to 17-inch wheels would mean something in the 245/65-17 size.

As you can see that does not get you into a narrower tire so you forgo that benefit - but more significantly this is not a size commonly available for cars - mostly for pickup and light duty trucks.

I'd go with the 18-inch wheels and 235/65 tires, but be forewarned, this is not a common size.

Auto part pricing

QUESTION: Last week, I replaced (myself) the complete exhaust on my 1994 Nissan Maxima, including the front flex pipe, converter and muffler. I had to use aftermarket parts for the obvious dollar-saving reasons although I prefer genuine parts for the engineering and quality standard put into them and no hassles for installation.

One Nissan dealer quoted me $1,000 for the front flex pipe alone, not to mention the $575 plus tax for the catalytic converter. The aftermarket flex pipe cost me $130 plus tax. I had a very difficult time installing the flex pipe, filing the flange connections to flat the distortion caused by the welding process.

Is there a reasonable explanation as why the dealer does not decrease the price (in the $300-$400 range) and sell a part that may sit in the warehouse forever? Unless that same part fit a wider range of Nissan models. I would like to know what I am missing here?


ANSWER: You probably won't consider it reasonable, but the dealer has a great amount of overhead - staff, real estate, stock - all of which costs money.

If dealers have to stock each part for each model they sell - going back many years, they have an immense amount of stock. Since that is virtually impossible, they rely on the manufacturer to warehouse the parts in close proximity where they can be obtained in less than 24 hours, in most cases.

These massive facilities cost a lot of money to build and maintain and those costs are passed on to you, the customer. In addition, if the dealer did have your part in stock, he can't lower the price without losing money, having paid more for the parts than your suggested "new" price.


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