The annual change to winter tires has led to a stressful, if presumably comparatively lucrative, period for small businesses offering the service.
Tanel Adamson, owner of one such company, Kummid 24, based in Tallinn's Mustamäe district, told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Thursday that the workshop had received 127 phone calls asking for an appointment or making an enquiry, that day alone.
Winter tires are mandatory from December 1 in Estonia, though many drivers make the switch earlier than that to avoid the rush, or being caught out by the arrival of the snow ahead of that date – as has happened this year, and last year also.
For those still running on summer tires and for whom the change is now a pressing matter, Adamson said: "I think that next week will be at full speed, and the week after will start to calm down. But we can definitely continue to work throughout the month of December."
Winter tires need not be of the studded variety; however they all have a tread design featuring larger gaps than those on summer tires, and are also made from softer rubber.
Many tire change firms work from temporary locations during peak time; one such example is Rehvibox, operating a mobile workshop in the parking lot of the Saku Suurhall concert venue in the west of the capital.
The workshop itself took six months to build, at a cost of €50,000, business owner Alan Ventsel told AK.
Ventsel's investment seems to have paid off, however; whereas last year he changed the four tires of 350 vehicles, he said this year he has already changed over 520 sets and counting.
Location may also be key in this growth, though Ventsel told AK that soaring utility bills and rents in his previous, fixed location in Kristiine, prompted him to set up as a mobile outfit in any case.
Under Estonian law, winter tires must be installed on any vehicle by December, before driving on the roads. An oft-heard complaint about studded tires once the spring thaw arrives is that they damage road surfaces and throw up dust as a result.
Summer tires can be reinstalled from April, and while no penalty is incurred for running on snow tires through the summer, wear and tear would likely make this a false economy.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera