Buying tires
January 1, 2010 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Buying tires. I'm not really a bargain hunter but I'd like to be. I've compared Costco to my local guy and they're about the same.

Both about $130 each. Goodyear Wrangler HP 23565R17. Teach me about shopping for tires. Thank You.
posted by notned to Shopping (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
posted by notyou at 11:28 AM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

I always buy from Costco because the rotation and balancing is also included in the cost. It adds up. Also they fix any flats etc.
posted by snowjoe at 11:29 AM on January 1, 2010

posted by jeffamaphone at 11:34 AM on January 1, 2010

In the past my formula has been:
  • Don't be in a rush if you can help it. Like everything else if you are in a hurry you will likely make poor financial/illogical decisions.
  • Figure out what sort of tire you are looking for (summer, all-season, snow, etc.) and then scour the web for automotive forums that relate to your car. Vehicles bring out the obsessive traits in many people, including those who will have more time to do research than you likely ever will. Don't reinvent the wheel. (Boom! Thank you folks, here all week.)
  • Go to Tirerack and double-check your newfound wisdom with the reviews there. Order from Tirerack and have them drop ship the tires directly to your trusted mechanic. (You do have a trusted mechanic right?) They've been online for 9 or 10 years I believe, and even with shipping, their prices often beat those locally.
  • Have aforementioned trusted mechanic put on your tires and align them if needed. I like the Costco prices as much as anyone, but when it comes to the wheels that are between me and the road at 65 MPH, I like the security of knowing who put them on.

posted by jeremias at 11:46 AM on January 1, 2010

I just bought snow tires. I 'compared Costco to my local guy,' but the local guy offered such a good deal on a good gently used set I went with the used, and decided to leave the issue of winter rims for later. After I wrote the cheque for the tires Local Guy said 'They were already on rims, so we just left them on...' Free rims! And valuable lesson about patronizing Local Guy.
posted by kmennie at 11:55 AM on January 1, 2010

I'm a long-time Costco member and spend more time than I should shopping on the internet. That said, if your local tire guy has been in business more than five years, can sell you the tires you need for about the same price as Costco and can spend more than five minutes discussing tires with you, go see him tomorrow. Tirerack can sell you whatever you ask for. Do you really know what the best tire is for your car and driving conditions? Your local tire guy, if you have confidence in him and will spend a little time with him, does. I just got tires for my wife's pickup from the guy we've been buying tires from for a long while. I told him what I wanted and then he discussed what our tire needs were and suggested tires that were about $60 less for the set. Simply put, he knew my tire needs better than I did.

I recently had a balance problem with my Excursion. The local tire guy was able to deal with it and, because I was a long-time customer, sent me away with no bill for the service. I could have taken it to my local mechanic and he could have fumbled around for a solution and charged me for his time. Instead, I took it to an expert who knows what he is doing, values my repeat business and is there for me when I need him. Oh, and there's nothing your mechanic likes better than mounting tires that somebody else has made the profit on.

Sometimes building relationships is worth the few dollars you might (or might not) save dealing with strangers.
posted by Old Geezer at 12:04 PM on January 1, 2010

It also depends on how urgently you want them. TireRack is often cheaper but they'll ship standard UPS and it may take 4-5 days to get them. You can pay extra for 2-day shipping, but obviously that's cutting into the cost savings. For comparison, the local tire store does runs from their warehouse daily, so either it's in stock locally or they'll have it tomorrow.

Also, make sure to look at the whole picture, since the shipping and installation costs add up. When I was looking, it was about $25 per tire to ship and $25 to install. So that tire which clearly beats the local place at $108, now is $158. OTOH, the local place is going to charge sales tax, which adds up to quite a lot on $600 or so.
posted by smackfu at 12:20 PM on January 1, 2010

I did my research on tirerack and then called around for the tires I wanted. The cost benefit for buying (then shipping) from tirerack was about zero. The extra trouble involved in getting them on my car was definitely nonzero.

(Then I bought some fancy schmancy wiper blades on tirerack to help ease my guilt...)

Always go to the local little guy even if they are slightly more expensive. There are so many reasons - your money stays in your town (at least a little longer) and it feeds your neighbor instead of a corporation. You build a relationship with a skilled local person who will still be there next time you need something tire-related -- or something not quite tire-related.
posted by fritley at 12:57 PM on January 1, 2010

Tirerack has an advantage if you want your tires mounted and balanced on new rims.
posted by Raybun at 1:04 PM on January 1, 2010

I'm surprised no one else mentioned this but I was told the best way to do this is to look on tirerack for the price and get local guy to price match. I'm told this is very easy to do but I have not tried it myself (no need yet).
posted by traco at 1:49 PM on January 1, 2010

I've used Discount Tire Direct with success. They have free shipping. Even after paying $60 for mounting and balancing I came out ahead.
posted by Xurando at 1:59 PM on January 1, 2010

I love Costco, but the last time I had them replace two of my tires, the guy forgot to tighten the lugnuts. Luckily, I just went straight home and my husband caught their mistake and fixed it.

Also, please watch the video from this article at the Consumerist:

"Those "new" tires of yours could be six-years old and ready to disintegrate on the highway. Tire rubber dries out after six years, but unlike in Europe and Asia, American companies are allowed to sell expired tires long after they turn into death donuts. A 20/20 investigation found that the "new" tires on sale at Sears and Walmart can be up to 12-years-old. Inside, how to tell when your tires were born...

All tires bear a Department of Transportation number hidden on the inner wheel wall. At the end of the number is a four-digit sequence that shows the week and year the tire was made. Tires with the notation 3502 were made in the 35th week of 2002. If you only see three digits, get new tires immediately; your tires are from the 90's and are way past their effective lifespan."
posted by LuckySeven~ at 3:12 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Youtube video link was taken down. Here's a different link to the same video.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 3:20 PM on January 1, 2010

They have free shipping. Even after paying $60 for mounting and balancing I came out ahead.

Mounting one, or all four? That sounds either really expensive or crazy expensive. I had a tire mounted the other day and it cost me $7.50.
posted by delmoi at 8:43 PM on January 1, 2010

If you live near a brick-and-mortar Discount Tire or America's Tire (same company), I recommend them. (Hey, is this AskMe or Yelp?) I also do an insane amount of internet research before any major purchase, and pored over the Tirerack reviews, Consumer Reports ratings, etc., before I decided which tires I wanted. I went with Discount Tire because their pricing is spot-on, they run specials that can usually save you like $40 - $100, and because of their "free" replacement warranty, which costs something like $10 or $15 more per tire, but is so worth it. (If you pop a tire at any time, they just give you a new one.)

I also got a quote from my local Little Guy, who basically said he'd buy the tires from Tire Rack and charge me a few bucks to install them. But he didn't offer a warranty, and it would take a week for the tires to show up. The Discount Tires guys are over-the-top corporate-nice, and may try to upsell you. But if you know what you want going in, they're as efficient and pleasant a big-box entity to deal with as any.
posted by turducken at 12:09 AM on January 2, 2010

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