Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — Winter driving may be a little more dicey for Utah drivers, unless they act now.
And we're hearing this more often, "supply chain issues" could be to blame.
Step into any tire shop and you're sure to see workers doing their best to get you in and out as quickly as possible, especially with more snow coming.
"Snow tires make a world of difference. You want to have the best on there for sure," said Jake Burt, one of the co-owners of Burt Brothers Tire and Service.
Burt said his shops have been a little busier, ever since those first few flakes started falling.
"When you put a winter tire on your vehicle, it's amazing the traction," he said. "And what's most important is the stopping power."
The only thing that will stop you faster, though, is having no tires.
Supply chain issues for winter tires are hitting shops, which means supplies are more limited than in past years.
"We took a big majority of our snow tires at the beginning of the year that we normally don't take until about August, but we knew they weren't going to be around if we waited that long," said Burt. "They don't build snow tires year-round. They build what they think is going to sell that year, and then when they're gone, they're gone."
Issues, such as worker shortages at manufacturing and raw materials plants, have hurt the supply chain.
Transportation and shipping are problems as well. "I think a lot of it comes down to shipping," said Burt. "I'm sure there's a ton of tires sitting in some of those boats."
I'm sure there's a ton of tires sitting in some of those boats.
–Jake Burt, Burt Brothers Tire and Service.
Many tires are made in other countries; and for those made in America, more tire shops are trying to get them.
"Even they're limited, because now, there's more demand on them," said Keith Brown, who manages Tire World in Salt Lake City.
Brown said he's even paid extra for shipping to get tires to his shop because of the tire shortage.
"It is tough. Part of what we're doing now is using resources we have never used before, like paying for freight to get tires in here. Normally, manufacturers include freight into the price of their tires," he said.
Brown said a container of tires — which has between 900 to 1,000 tires — is costing an extra $3,000 right now.
"I have been doing this for over 40 years and this is the first time I've seen this," said Brown.
Ultimately, the increased costs get passed to the customers.
Many shops have had to increase their prices, just to keep operating at current levels. "In 2021, we've had three price increases for tires just because raw materials and freight to get them here," said Brown.
It doesn't necessarily mean winter tires won't be available later in the season, but you may have to wait. "Raw materials, supply sources, transportation, it all adds up to make the problem worse," said Brown.
It's not just tires. Many tire shops also service cars and are seeing supply chain issues with basic parts, such as oil and air filters, brake parts and brake pads.
"We'll get through it," said Brown. "We will find a way. We have been through worse things in this country and in the world, and we'll get back there."