I use my tire in a typical Michigan winter, snow falls of about 1-3" at a time with temps below 40 from November through the end of March. Occasionally we get a 6-8" snow fall or even the 10-12".
- I use Michelin Alpin PA3's because I do mostly freeway driving and hate the feel of non-performance snow tires at 75mph. Really just about any winter tire will work better than all-seasons in the snow though. I had Hankook Winter i-Pike's on my MINI Cooper and they were fantastic and I even use a set on my rallycross prepped Dodge Neon too. Blizzaks are always highly rated too.
- I use MOMO Winter 2's for my rims because I went with 17's and the tire shop had a hard time tracking down 17" steelies for me. If you could find someone selling Volvo rims on Craigslist you'd be able to get a nice looking set of rims for your car without breaking the bank.
- I get about 2-3mpg better mileage with my winter tires vs. my summer tires. When I had my OEM rims and tires though I didn't see any noticeable difference
- I'd just go ahead and do it now. If you are seriously considering getting winter tires you might as well get them this season instead of chancing it with the all-seasons.
- Tire shop does it, but it's free for them to swap them over. If I had to pay I'd just do it myself.