The recent sleet and poor weather conditions has brought the need to change to winter tires into focus, with many businesses engaged in that activity seeing a spike in custom, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera," (AK) reported Thursday.
Studded winter tires, barred during the summer months due to the abrasion they can cause to road surfaces, have been permissible for use since last Sunday.
Regular winter tires are in any case mandatory from December 1, but peak season has already hit tire-changing (Rehvivahetus, or Rehvitöö, in Estonian) workshops.
Sander Nisu, head of the Mustamäe office of one such firm, Vianor, told ERR that they will barely be able to pause for breath until some time later next month.
"Bookings are coming in very quickly, and every day is fully-booked," he said.
While some customers are forward-thinking enough to have booked their tire change slot already, the recent snowfall has concentrated the minds of those who have not.
"Then it's a madhouse," Nisu added. "Vehicles start arriving immediately," he went on, referring to the recent snow and sleet.
The Transport Administration (Transpordiamet) advises long-distance drivers in particular, and/or those who need to drive during the hours of darkness, to not tarry with making the change.
This costs money of course, and the rising prices have found their way into this sector, too, the Vianor says it has not hiked its fees this year.
Changing four R17-size tires there costs €75, with a discount of a few euros due to those who carry a Vianor loyalty card – which Nisu said many customers do.
As for the cast-off summer tires, there is the issue of storing them. Vianor can provide this, though it costs €49 – again with a discount for card-holders.
Pärnu-based Tirespot OÜ told AK its next free slot was a week on Friday.
Company spokesperson Tarmo Saar said the recent snowfall had not affected business much one way or another, as he has built up his own loyal client base over the years; though wait times have been longer than usual for two weeks now, he added.
Booking a tire change appointment a few weeks in advance was recommended, he said.
Changing four R17 car tires costs €60, while winter storage costs €40-45.
AK reported a general price rise in the sector of 25-30 percent over the last couple of years, a figure confirmed by Babuškin of the Gekkon Service Mustamäe workshop. "We have upped the price by about 25 percent. Materials have become quite a lot more expensive, as of course has payroll; we have had to raise wages also."
Kummibox, based in Tartu and Valga, charges €59-62 for the same four-wheel service noted above, and told AK it had some free slots available early next week.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Karin Koppel, Veronika Uibo, Merili Nael