Does a mechanic sell and install car tires?
October 7, 2012 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a place where I can buy new tires and have them installed. Since we are also looking for a new mechanic for regular car service, I was wondering if a car mechanic typically also sells/installs tires and if it is a good idea to have that done there? Or would they charge much much more than a "tire place" (I've seen BelleTire, DiscountTire around here and the archives tell me Costco is good as well...)

Car is a 2002 Toyota4Runner and we're in Ann Arbor, MI. We need winter tires. Sorry if this is a dumb question, this is our first car. We don't want to put a lot of time into this, and don't necessarily need the super-cheap option (but it would be nice if it weren't a total ripoff).
posted by toadlover to Shopping (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
For tires, go to Discount Tire on Carpenter Rd. I've used them for years, the price is as good as you'll find anywhere and the post-service is good. (I recently went back, after 50,000 miles on my tires, they rotated them, repaired a small leak in one and didn't charge me a penny).

You'll find tires at a regular mechanic's shop to be much more expensive.

For regular service I recommend Arbor Motion, it's on Airport off of State street, not the cheapest, but the best there is in town, tell Corky that I sent you.
posted by HuronBob at 3:22 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


A little more on Arbor Motion, they have both a free shuttle and a free loner service. I've been taking my wife's 1990 volvo wagon there since she bought it. I love getting a loaner, ended up with a BMW once, often get volvo's or VW's ... fun!

I took it in for some brake work once, they called, said that the rotor they had installed TWO YEARS previously was evidently bad, they replaced two rotors and sets of pads for nothing....
posted by HuronBob at 3:26 PM on October 7, 2012


It might be worth it to learn how to change the tires yourself, since you'll be switching them out twice a year. TireRack is a good place to buy them online.
posted by snickerdoodle at 3:29 PM on October 7, 2012


Costco is the sweet spot. Cheap tires, great guarantee, and free rotations thereafter (those can add up if your'e paying for them). But if Costco's far from you, it might not be as practical. And you should know that Costco puts nitrogen in the tires, which is better but means you HAVE to go back to Costco for repairs and fills (unless you find another local tire shop that uses nitrogen...good ones do).

I know that sounds awfully restrictive, and I gulped before I opted for it, but it's been absolutely fine for the past six years. For one thing, the nitrogen doesn't do the slow escape (or variation in pressure in different temperatures), so I never have need to top off air at a gas station anymore anyway.

If you do do Costco, do your research online (unless you just want standard/adequate). Also beware that they have big sales, so watch for them (though standard price is low anyway).
posted by Quisp Lover at 3:30 PM on October 7, 2012


I used Discount Tires in Colorado for snow tires, I bought a second set of basic rims for them, which at the time meant that I had free lifetime swaps of the rims/tires. Which I could also do myself.

Whereas if you buy just tires, I think they will charge for popping the summer tires off and replacing them with winter ones.
posted by carter at 3:34 PM on October 7, 2012


Don't do the summer/winter tire thing, it really isn't worth it (especially if you don't have two sets of rims), with a 4x4 you only need a good set of all season tires...heck, last year I didn't put the jeep into 4wheel drive once....
posted by HuronBob at 3:39 PM on October 7, 2012


Not sure if we are talking about different things here, but I had snow tires with studs (on a sedan), it made a huge difference to traction on snowy roads where the snow is packed down.

But I guess it depends on what you anticipate winter to be like, and how much driving you plan to do.

I do think though that studs will also be helpful for a 4x4. Once a truck starts sliding on packed snow because it's lost traction (for instance through a stop light into an intersection), 4x4 isn't really going to help.
posted by carter at 3:52 PM on October 7, 2012


And you should know that Costco puts nitrogen in the tires, which is better but means you HAVE to go back to Costco for repairs and fills (unless you find another local tire shop that uses nitrogen...good ones do).

There is absolutely no objective benefit to having nitrogen in your tires over regular air, and it certainly doesn't mean you HAVE to have them filled/refilled with nitrogen. You can absolutely mix regular air and nitrogen. OP, don't get caught up on this and DON'T pay more for filling your tires with nitrogen.

FYI: Regular air is already almost 80% nitrogen.
posted by InsanePenguin at 3:53 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love our local Discount Tire. Just yesterday, I took in one of my tires because I'd run over a bolt. My tires have more than 60,000 miles on them, but I bought the lifetime guarantee and they said if they couldn't repair the tire, they'd replace it for free. Sixty K miles and four years of wear would have presented them with the perfect opportunity to try to sell on a new set of tires (and I would have been responsive, as I asked the technician to give me an assessment of how much life was left), but they didn't. I told the tech how much I appreciated that and he said they don't work on commission. I'm a customer for life.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:20 PM on October 7, 2012


Thanks so far, all very helpful!

On the summer/winter vs all season choice: we have no experience driving in snow and a little child, and just moved to Ann Arbor, i.e. no clear idea how "bad" it gets in the winter. We'd rather be on the safe side... HurbonBob, would that change your suggestion, or would you still go with all season tires?

If one does the summer/winter tire thing without a second set of rims, how much are we looking at in terms of costs of changing them twice a year, roughly? Is it economical to just by a second set of rims?

Entirely different question: when changing from winter to summer or reverse, does the tire shop just load the second set of tires into my car and then I store them somewhere? I guess having a second set of rims makes no difference on that part, i.e. they would just leave the tires on the rims and I would store both, right?

No interest in doing any of that ourselves, that would certainly be a public danger.
posted by toadlover at 4:22 PM on October 7, 2012


Any mechanic can put on tires, but most don't stock tires or do alignments. You will probably want to find a place to do the tires that specializes in it. A Costco with attached tire shop.

BTW, in the three Costcos I've visited, you can "air up" your tires without making an appointment. Just pull up and look like you know what you're doing. So you can get nitrogen top-offs for your regular tires, if you want (mine are from CostCo, so I do this guilt-free, YMMV).
posted by zippy at 4:28 PM on October 7, 2012


... put on tires that are already mounted on rims ...
posted by zippy at 4:29 PM on October 7, 2012


On the summer/winter vs all season choice: we have no experience driving in snow and a little child, and just moved to Ann Arbor, i.e. no clear idea how "bad" it gets in the winter. We'd rather be on the safe side... HurbonBob, would that change your suggestion, or would you still go with all season tires?

If you're driving in snow, especially if you are new to it,* get winter tires. You will get better braking and not-sliding-all-over with them. That means fewer fender benders, encounters with snowbanks, etc.

* By the time you're not new to it, you'll know you want them anyway.
posted by zippy at 4:31 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Entirely different question: when changing from winter to summer or reverse, does the tire shop just load the second set of tires into my car and then I store them somewhere? I guess having a second set of rims makes no difference on that part, i.e. they would just leave the tires on the rims and I would store both, right?

You have one set of rims - they will be on the truck, with your summer tires on. In your garage, you have your winter tires. You drive to the shop with the winter tires in the trunk, they swap the tires, you drive home with the summer tires in the trunk, and put them in the garage until spring.

You have two sets of rims and tires - the summer ones will be on the truck, the winter ones will be in your garage. You drive to the shop with the winter tires/rims in the trunk, they swap the rims with the tires, you drive home with the summer rims and tires in the trunk, and put them in the garage until spring.
posted by carter at 4:38 PM on October 7, 2012


I always have a second set of rims with winter tires mounted on them, so that I can swap the wheels+tires myself. That way you save on paying a shop to mount / demount. Also, mark them when you take them off, and you can rotate them when you're putting them back on again.
Winter tires are awesome. Best advice for driving in slippery conditions - you can only do one thing at a time. You can brake, or accelerate, or turn. Do not try to do more than one thing at once, you don't have the grip. Also, go slow, take your time, and avoid steep hills if possible, especially if there is a stop sign or traffic light at the bottom.
posted by defcom1 at 5:43 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can also buy tires online from, say, Tire Rack, and have them delivered to your preferred mechanic for installation. That's if you can't find a better deal locally. I don't care for discount tire places, too much hard sell.
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:13 PM on October 7, 2012


You do NOT need studded tires in Ann Arbor, you would probably be hard put to even find anyone that sells them. A good set of all season tires on a 4x4 is more that sufficient to travel most anywhere in Michigan, even if you go to the UP (they actually do a better job of keeping the roads passable up there).
posted by HuronBob at 8:45 AM on October 8, 2012


"There is absolutely no objective benefit to having nitrogen in your tires over regular air, and it certainly doesn't mean you HAVE to have them filled/refilled with nitrogen. You can absolutely mix regular air and nitrogen. OP, don't get caught up on this and DON'T pay more for filling your tires with nitrogen."


Using lots of absolutely certainly certain adverbs doesn't make your claims more true.

"Nitrogen in tires brings no benefit"
Wrong (quoting from that link: "with nitrogen, your tire pressures will remain more constant....[and] there will be less moisture inside your tires, meaning less corrosion on your wheels.")

"You can mix oxygen and nitrogen"
I didn't mean there'd be, like, an explosion. But you obviously lose the advantage of the nitrogen. And it would require rounds of purging to fully remove the oxygen, which I doubt Costco would do, so there's probably no going back if you want the benefits of nitrogen.

"Nitrogen costs more"
No. Costco doesn't charge for it.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:28 AM on October 8, 2012


Thanks again everyone, we got new tires at Discount Tire and it all went well.
posted by toadlover at 7:06 PM on October 9, 2012


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