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Tuesday, April 06, 2010 - Calgary, Alberta - Olympic gold medalist Jon Montgomery with his 2007 Honda Ridgeline, The back tailgate features a hidden storage space and he has upgraded the rims and tires. Photo by CHRIS BOLIN / for The Globe and MailChris Bolin/The Globe and Mail

I just bought a 2023 Hyundai Kona electric, and I want to put winter tires on it. I’ve always mounted my winter tires on steel rims with their own TPMS sensors - but can I use steel rims with an EV? I didn’t see any mention in the car’s manual but I’m wondering whether they can handle the extra weight of an EV.

Also, any thoughts on storing summer tires over the winter in an unheated, uninsulated garage or are they better in a heated (18-20-degree) basement?

Thanks, Jason

I do understand that some EV manufacturers are quite particular regarding both wheels and tire choices. The theory being that because EV’s are heavier than their gas-powered counterparts, critical components must be manufactured to elevated standards. It’s all about offering the lightest possible piece that is able to stand up to the additional cornering and braking forces derived from the additional weight. In the same manner, tires specified for EV’s are designed to offer a smooth, noise-free ride and have a lower rolling resistance to extend the range. The fear is that if you put cheap winter wheel products on your EV, they are going to break into a million pieces at the first pothole.

Fortunately, Hyundai doesn’t seem to be one of those manufacturers that is that fussy. I stopped into my local Hyundai dealer to shop on your behalf and when I asked for winter wheels for a Kona EV, I was immediately offered factory steel wheels. So, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that in your case, steel wheels are a great choice. The price was approximately $99 per unit, which seems reasonable to me for original equipment wheels.

The debate in my mind is for those who drive EV’s from manufacturers that don’t want steel wheels on their vehicles. In my mind, a steel wheel should be stronger than aluminum wheel, but it will also be heavier. For the sake of argument, let’s assume a steel product is equal in strength to the factory aluminum wheels. If so, it should be the owner’s choice as to whether they are willing to sacrifice a small amount of range because of the additional wheel weight and possible wind drag to save money on steel wheels. That being said, aftermarket wheel suppliers are slowly figuring out the EV winter wheel market and now offer some replica aluminum winter wheel options. While they cost more than steel wheels, they are much cheaper than buying a second set of factory original wheels.

Regarding your second question, climate controlled is always the better option in my opinion. So, assuming space is not an issue I would put them in the basement, but keep them away from any heat sources or ozone generating device like electric motors/generators.

Even though you didn’t ask it, I do get this related question from time to time and now would be an opportune time to answer it. Should I store my tires vertically, standing up or stacked horizontally? According to the Michelin Canada website, tires mounted on rims should be hung up or stacked horizontally. Tires not mounted should not be stacked or hung, they should be stored standing up.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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