‘We’re swamped’: Snowfall triggers winter tire surge in Sault

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Fighting to keep up with recent demand, some auto shops are already booking winter tire appointments into December

Motorists in Sault Ste. Marie looking to get their winter tires may want to schedule an appointment this week to avoid having to wait until December.

According to a number of automotive service providers in town, their phones have been ringing non-stop ever since the Sault was hit with several early inches of snow this week.

Marcel Lamoureux, the owner of Marcel’s Automotive on Queen Street, said his shop is booked up with winter tire appointments into late next week. But that’s better than most places in town, according to the mechanic.

“People around town are being told December from some tire shops,” he said. “I was out of town yesterday, so we were closed, but today we’re swamped. Everybody wants winter tires today. I had 20 calls before noon.”

The snowfall appeared to come as a surprise to many as even Sault Police had to issue their annual Winter Driving Preparedness Month news release two days before November.

While his team can only afford to do three or four winter tire changes a day, Lamoureux is feeling more concerned about the dwindling number of garages in town.

“Two more garages closed last week since they can’t get workers, so all those customers have to go somewhere else,” he said. “Even I’m looking for another guy but they’re not available out there.”

Meanwhile, the local exhaust service provider Jiggerz told SooToday they’ve been receiving lots of calls about winter tires. But the Wallace Terrace shop doesn’t even do them.

“We probably had ten calls yesterday and we don’t do tires,” they said. “But it’s funny, people live here their whole life and forget winter starts around the same time most years.”

Over at Kal Tire, employees are now installing winter tires on 35 vehicles each day.  

Since the snowfall on Monday, Kal Tire had already replaced winter tires on 44 vehicles as of noon on Tuesday. The shop’s manager Tyler Plaunt credits his experienced team for their efficiency during an incredibly busy time.

“This isn’t their first go-around,” he said. “We know what to expect and we manage around it. It’s a little harder when you have a fresh team who hasn’t been through a winter rush before, but the vast majority of them have been through it at least once, so we just plan accordingly.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve already done 500 vehicles in October,” he added.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the earliest bookings for Kal Tire was two and a half weeks for new tire installs and three weeks for most of their other services.

Canadian Tire, one of the Sault’s busiest auto shops, told SooToday their earliest bookings for winter tires are at the end of November and into December.

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